Arizona has found the person to lead its athletic department in the post Greg Byrne era. He’s Dave Heeke, a 28-year college athletics veteran with ties to the Pac-12 but most recently from Central Michigan where he was the athletic director. He’s considered a strong fundraiser and negotiator.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Arizona athletics family. It is truly an honor to be named the new Vice President for Athletics and have the opportunity to return to the prestigious Pac-12 Conference,” Heeke said in a statement made in the announcement by UA president Ann Weaver Hart. “I want to thank Dr. Hart and those involved with the search process for their confidence in my ability to lead one of the premiere athletics departments in the country. This program is about excellence and we will continue to focus on achieving at the very highest level athletically and academically, while creating the finest experience in the country for our student-athletes. I also want to thank all of the terrific people at Central Michigan University who have been so wonderful to our family during my time in Mount Pleasant. Arizona has developed a storied history and tradition and I’m looking forward to being a part of the next chapter in Tucson. I can’t wait to Bear Down.”
His official hiring must still get past Board of Regents approval.
Byrne left to become the Alabama AD last month. A national search was quickly followed headed by Hart with the assistance of former AD Cedric Dempsey and former associate AD Rocky LaRose. Ther search included 65 possible candidates.
“I was impressed by his sustained level of accomplishment in promoting superior academic and athletic achievements by their student athletes and his ability to rally record levels of fundraising for facility improvements in all sports,” Hart said in the statement. “He has experience at the highest levels of competitive college sports and he is an acknowledged national leader among NCAA athletic directors. Dave is a perfect match for our Wildcat family.”
Heeke has experience in department leadership, budget development, fundraising, compliance and sport supervision, among other areas. He has hired 16 head coaches in various sports and made very difficult changes when necessary. Heeke has also been heavily involved in facilities master planning and funding, as well as university and external relations.
While AD at CMU, Heeke the department was twice honored with the Cartwright Award, which recognizes the Mid-American Conference’s top overall institution based on excellence in academics, athletics and citizenship. CMU earned the Reese Trophy, which honors the top MAC men’s athletic program, three times, and finished as the runner-up for the Jacoby Trophy, which honors the top MAC women’s athletic program, four times under Heeke’s leadership. In addition, the football program qualified for bowl games in eight of his 11 years at CMU, while the men’s basketball team won four MAC division championships and one overall title.
Heeke, a Michigan native, Albion College graduate (1985) and a master’s degree graduate from Ohio State University (1987), is a nationally recognized leader among college athletics directors. He was appointed to the NCAA Division I Athletic Director Advisory Group in June of 2013. One of just 11 Division I Athletic Directors nationwide to be selected for the appointment, the group meets periodically with NCAA President Mark Emmert and his staff to provide feedback and perspective on issues affecting DI athletics.
Information was provided by the Arizona Athletic Department for this story.