After more than 20 years working in some of the nation’s top college athletics programs, Joe Parker was looking for the right place to lead a program. He found it at CSU.
Parker was introduced by President Tony Frank on Tuesday as CSU’s Director of Athletics. Parker replaces interim A.D. John Morris, who recently accepted a position as athletics director at Tufts University.
“I’m learning what a special place this is,” Parker told a room at Moby Arena filled with fans, media and university personnel. “I’m proud of what we’re doing here. There have been a lot of great accomplishments. This place has all the ingredients to be the premier program in Mountain West and in the country.”
Frank, who chose Parker following a seven-month search to find the right person to lead CSU athletics, said he was immediately sold on Parker, a former All-American swimmer at Michigan.
“He is a man with impeccable integrity,” he said. “He’s incredibly competitive, but he also realizes winning is only worthwhile if it’s done the right way.”
Parker is particularly enthusiastic about taking a lead role in the process to build an on-campus stadium. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer, with the first game in Fall 2017.
“Hughes Stadium has served for 50 years and has created some wonderful memories,” he said. “An on-campus stadium will only amplify the college football experience. It will be remarkable experience when people see that first game – something for all of us to celebrate.”
Parker has worked at several schools in Power 5 conferences and has experience in all areas of college athletics.
During Parker’s time as deputy A.D. at Texas Tech he oversaw a Big 12 Conference program with 17 teams and an annual budget of $68.5 million. Under Parker’s leadership in building excitement and engagement among Red Raider fans, the university achieved first-ever sellouts for football season tickets and broke attendance records in football, men’s basketball and baseball.
In addition, Parker has been involved in all Title IX and gender equity issues at Texas Tech. During his tenure as deputy A.D., Parker also led programs to boost the classroom success of student-athletes and led the development and recent launch of a current $185 million fundraising campaign.
At Michigan, highlights of Parker’s eight-year tenure (2003-11) included serving on a four-person team that was responsible for more than $400 million in infrastructure improvements, including the renovation and creation of new revenue opportunities at Michigan Stadium, known as “The Big House.” Parker helped secure $14 million in annual gift revenue and more than $31 million in major gifts to support the stadium renovation project, lauded as one of the premier renovation projects in the country.
Parker joined his alma mater in 2003 as associate athletics director for development and was promoted in 2006 to senior associate athletics director for development and corporate relations.
At the University of Texas (1994-98), Washington State (1998-99) and the University of Oklahoma (2000-03), Parker led successful efforts in annual giving, season-ticket sales and premium seating programs, and also was involved in facilities development and renovation projects.
Praise for Parker
His former colleagues spoke highly of Parker.
“Joe did a terrific job at the University of Texas,” said retired athletic director DeLoss Dodds. “He is bright, he is people-friendly. He’s got great experience at several different places, and is knowledgeable about the business. Joe has a great family and a terrific wife. CSU is very fortunate to have him as part of their community.”
“I’ve had the great fortune to have first-hand experience working with Joe Parker as part of our athletic program here at Oklahoma and closely following his continued growth in our industry,” said Joe Castiglione, vice president and director of athletics at the University of Oklahoma. “From his background as a student-athlete to his accomplishments as an administrator, it’s really exciting to see a real life example of preparation meeting opportunity. This is a true success story. Colorado State University has hired a dynamic leader with great skills and impeccable integrity who will build great relationships with stakeholders and collectively create a wonderful environment for student-athlete achievement in the classroom and their athletic endeavors. We are grateful for all of Joe’s contributions to Oklahoma and happy for him, Jennie, and their entire family. We’re confident they will be enthusiastically welcomed and embraced just as they were here.“
Bill Martin, former athletics director at the University of Michigan, agreed.
“Joe Parker is an excellent choice to be the new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics for Colorado State,” he said. “He has an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of intercollegiate athletics through his career as a student-athlete swimming for the University of Michigan, and then as an athletic administrator. Joe played a key role in the successful renovation of Michigan Stadium, overseeing the design and marketing of all the premium seating. His integrity, his knowledge, his passion, his leadership skills and his personality combined to make him an effective team leader. Joe was the ‘go-to’ individual for so many on our staff and for me personally; he was a trusted confidante who helped lead our department in every role he was asked to take on.”
Highly successful student-athlete
Parker was a three-time All-America swimmer at Michigan, and also became team captain. He earned a gold and bronze medal as a senior in the 1987 World University Games in Zagreb, Yugoslavia. Parker earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Michigan, and an MB. from the University of Texas.
He and his wife Jennie have two children, Emma and Will. He plans to start his new journey at CSU on April 6.
What they are saying around the country…
Jeff Long, vice chancellor and director of athletics, University of Arkansas
“Joe Parker is an outstanding athletics administrator. He possesses the experience, intelligence and concern for the student-athlete that are vital to successfully lead an FBS intercollegiate program today. Having worked at some of the finest academic and athletic institutions, Joe is exceedingly prepared to lead Colorado State University.”
Christine Plonsky, women’s A.D./executive senior associate A.D., University of Texas
“Colorado State University and college athletics enjoy a positive day as Joe Parker assumes A.D. responsibilities. Joe has been destined for a high profile leadership role, given his administrative experience, fundraising ability and his ever-present vision for excellence. I’ve been honored to work with Joe directly during a period of critical change at Texas. He has a deep appreciation for teamwork and for modeling what a positive student-athlete environment should be. He sets a wonderful example for coaches, staff and student-athletes. People trust Joe, and he inspires others to work better around him. Colorado State is a perfect community for Joe, Jennie and their family. He will be a giving, admired and connected leader for Rams athletics and the University. Our A.D. group in NCAA Division I is thrilled that Joe has received this opportunity.”
Chris Del Conte, athletics director, TCU
“CSU today hired the perfect person to lead this program. Joe has had many opportunities to be an athletic director. I can’t think of anyone more prepared than Joe for this opportunity. During his stops at Washington State, Texas, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas Tech, he has not only led as a visionary for building facilities but acquired the knowledge necessary to lead this program in today’s environment.”
What they are saying at Texas Tech…
Duane Nellis, president
“Over the last two years I’ve known Joe Parker, his impact on the daily operations of the athletics department has been impressive. Upon meeting him it was obvious he would make this transition one day. Our loss is truly Colorado State’s gain.”
Kirby Hocutt, athletics director
“I am very excited for Joe, Jennie, Will and Emma on their new opportunity at Colorado State University. Joe is one of the most talented and thoughtful administrators in the nation, and I could not be more appreciative of his friendship, hard work, and dedication to Texas Tech Athletics over the past four years. His day-to-day leadership has been an instrumental part of our progress and Texas Tech Athletics is better today because of the important role he has played within our department. President Frank and Colorado State have made a tremendous hire and one that will provide strong leadership for their athletics department. I know the CSU coaches, athletics department staff and community will enjoy getting to know Joe Parker and his wonderful family.”
Kliff Kingsbury, head football coach
“Joe Parker is one of the most impressive individuals I have ever had the privilege of working with. His passion for the well-being of the student-athlete is unparalleled. Colorado State has hired an incredible athletics director and an even better man. He will be sincerely missed here at Texas Tech, and we wish him and his family nothing but the best.”
Marsha Sharp, retired women’s basketball coach and 1993 National Champion in WBB
“All of us at Texas Tech will hate to lose Joe Parker, but we couldn’t be more excited for him and this new opportunity. Joe is a man of solutions. He is thoughtful, fair and a good listener and that approach allows him to discover solutions. Joe will do a great job as the athletics director at Colorado State.”