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The Word on the Herd-April 1, 2013
A letter from Mike Hamrick
August 23, 2013 - Marshall 3, Campbell 0
Mike Hamrick’s return to Marshall University as athletic director has been more than a personal homecoming to Huntington for the former Thundering Herd linebacker.
It’s been a transformation for MU athletics, too.
Hamrick, in his seventh year as the Herd AD, has spearheaded The Vision Campaign, the most ambitious fundraising effort in Marshall Athletics history. Hamrick has teamed with former Herd star athletes and campaign co-chairs Mike D’Antoni and Chad Pennington. The Vision Campaign has raised more than $28 million in private dollars as part of a $38 million-plus plan to enhance Herd facilities.
The Vision Campaign gave Marshall one of the best college soccer stadiums in the nation, as Hoops Family Field at the Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex opened in August 2013. Opened between August 2014 and July 2015 was the prime piece of the project – the Chris Cline Athletic Complex. That includes the Indoor Athletic Facility with its 120-yard football field and 300-meter Jeff Small Track; the Marshall Sports Medicine Institute; the 14,000-square-foot Buck Harless Student-Athlete Academic Center; and a museum home for the MU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Another improvement was the $3 million addition of eight suites to the sky deck of Joan C. Edwards Stadium, plus new bathrooms and other fan-friendly changes to that level of the pressbox, including a third elevator. This football season brings a new AstroTurf surface to Edwards Stadium, a $750,000 project.
In Hamrick’s six-plus years as the Marshall AD, the program’s facility growth and enhancement has been more than $42.2 million.
Hamrick, 58 and a 1980 MU graduate, was named to the AD post on July 20, 2009. He wasted no time in reaching out to former Herd letter winners, alumni and friends of MU to build a consensus on what Thundering Herd supporters sought in the program. The response has been strong.
He brought in Coach Doc Holliday to transform the football program, and the Herd has won four bowls in the past five seasons. Marshall finished 10-4 in 2013 and then won its first Conference USA title in 2014, finishing 13-1 and No. 22/23 in the final national polls. The Herd went 10-3 in 2015 and is the only Group of Five program with three consecutive seasons of 10 or more wins.
In men’s basketball, Hamrick brought in popular alumnus and MU Hall of Famer Dan D’Antoni from the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers in April to re-energize a program that in 2011-12 made the National Invitation Tournament field for the first time since 1988. The women’s basketball team reached the quarterfinals of the WBI last March, the program’s first postseason bid since the 1997 NCAA Tournament.
Under Hamrick’s watch, women’s basketball, swimming and men’s and women’s golf have gotten new head coaches, too. All of the Herd programs have gained more academic and financial support since Hamrick’s arrival, and their progress in the classroom and on the field is one of Hamrick’s core efforts and desires.
In the classroom, Marshall's student-athletes also continued to excel. In the 2015 fall semester, 13 of the Herd’s 14 programs posted team GPAs of 2.9 or better and 56 percent of enrolled student-athletes had a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. For the 2014-15 school year, Marshall had 41 athletes win the
Conference USA Commissioner’s Medal (3.75 GPA and above), up from 33 the previous year. The Herd had 183 on the C-USA Honor Roll (3.0 or better), a rise from 157 athletes in 2013-14.
In his second year, Hamrick established a Football Enhancement Fund effort that committed nearly $2 million to the program. His efforts have also led to rapid growth and development in the Big Green Foundation and in Marshall's M Club (former student-athletes) that has increased donation levels by 50 percent. The M Club has increased its membership to a record 500-plus. Big Green membership has risen to 3,200, ranking among the top three schools in athletic fundraising club membership in Conference USA.
He negotiated a marketing contract extension with IMG College in the summer of 2010 that poured nearly $3 million in needed facility enhancements into Marshall's athletics venues, including major video board and sound system upgrades to Edwards Stadium and significant signage and lighting improvements to the Cam Henderson Center.
More recently, the Henderson Center’s fan comfort was enhanced again with an air flow and distribution upgrade and an improved public address sound system. A new, $155,000 playing floor was installed prior to the 2013-14 season.
Hamrick served as AD at UNLV for six years before returning to his alma mater. Prior to his position at UNLV, Hamrick was director of athletics at East Carolina University from 1995-2003. He also has been AD at Arkansas-Little Rock, assistant AD at Illinois State, and assistant AD at Kansas.
Hamrick played football at Marshall University from 1976-79, starting at linebacker his last two seasons. After receiving his bachelor's degree in education from Marshall, he earned his master's degree in sports administration from Ohio University in 1981.
Hamrick is a native of Clendenin, W.Va. – in Kanawha County, near Charleston. He is a graduate of Herbert Hoover High School, where he is an inductee of the HHHS Athletic Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Soletta, a Huntington native and also a Marshall graduate, reside in Barboursville, W.Va.
The Hamricks have three children -- twin sons, Brett and Justin, 28, and a daughter, Mollie Ann, 24. Brett works for NIKE, in Portland, Ore., and Justin works in the culinary arts field and is a Marshall student. Mollie Ann, a Marshall graduate, has a master’s degree from Kentucky and is a Certified Social Worker for the Family Practice physicians at Marshall Health.