Kevin White, one of the most progressive and talented administrators in the intercollegiate athletics ranks, quickly attached his signature as director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame. His initial seven years in that position qualify as the most successful across-the-board years in the history of athletics at Notre Dame.
In addition, he has been cast in a handful of prominent national roles within collegiate athletics – including his ongoing representation with the Bowl Championship Series, his service in 2006-07 as president of NACDA (the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) and in 2005-06 as president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association. He also is part of the steering committee for Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
White and his Notre Dame athletics program are coming off a 2006-07 season that included three national players of the year (Kerri Hanks and Joe Lapira as Hermann Trophy winners in women’s and men’s soccer – and Brady Quinn as Maxwell Award winner in football), a national coach of the year in Jeff Jackson (hockey), plus three NCAA post-graduate scholarship winners (most since 1975) in Ted Brown (swimming), Stephanie Brown (softball) and Maryann Erigha (track and field).
A record-setting ’06-’07 hockey season that included 32 wins, seven weeks ranked number one, a first-ever Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season title and a first-ever CCHA Tournament title headlined an athletic year that also featured an NCAA runner-up finish (and number-one ranking most of the year) in women’s soccer, 15 teams ranked in the final top 25 (nine in the top 10), 32 All-Americans, 10 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and nine conference coach-of-the-year selections.
Sports Illustrated On Campus (the online subset of Sports Illustrated’s SI.com) ranked Notre Dame’s overall athletic program seventh best in the country for 2006-07 – with extra credit for success in football and basketball.
White was named the 2006 GeneralSports TURF Systems Division I-A Central Region Athletic Director of the Year – thanks to Notre Dame’s best-ever sixth-place finish in the NACDA Cup competition, its 44 All-Americans, 14 Academic All-Americans, five combination All-American/Academic All-Americans and 13 BIG EAST Conference titles, all Irish records.
Twenty-four (of 26) Notre Dame programs qualified teams or individuals for postseason play in 2005-06, 16 teams finished in national top-25 rankings, nine finished in the top 10, six ended up in the top 10 in NCAA competition and four achieved top-four NCAA finishes (men’s and women’s fencing, women’s lacrosse, men’s cross country). Three Notre Dame head coaches received national coach-of-the-year recognition in 2005-06 – Charlie Weis in football, Jay Louderback in women’s tennis and Tracy Coyne in women’s lacrosse.
A career educator and one of the most respected athletic administrators in the nation, White previously had been athletic director at Arizona State University, Tulane University, the University of Maine, and Loras College. He brought a combined 18 years (1982-83 to 1999-2000) of experience in those positions with him to his assignment at Notre Dame.
Appointed on March 13, 2000, White became the first Notre Dame athletic director to report directly to the University’s president. After agreeing to an original five-year contract as well as a five-year extension, White in December 2002 saw his commitment extended an additional two years to 2012.
White’s first seven years at Notre Dame from 2000-01 through 2006-07 saw unprecedented achievement on Irish fields of play:
Notre Dame finished 11th, 13th, 13th, 19th, 16th, a program-best sixth, then 22nd, respectively, in the NACDA Directors’ Cup (formerly sponsored by Sears) all-sports ratings in those seven years, accounting for its best-ever seven-year run in that competition.
Irish teams have achieved number-one national rankings 13 times during his years at Notre Dame – women’s basketball in 2000-01; baseball in ’01; men’s fencing in ’00, ’02 and ’03; women’s fencing in ’04, ’05 and ’06; women’s soccer in ’00, ’04, ’05 and ’06, and hockey in 2007.
The Irish claimed the ’01 national championship in women’s basketball; the ’03 and ’05 NCAA titles in fencing (a men’s and women’s combined championship); the ’04 crown in women’s soccer; a runner-up finish in ’06 in women’s soccer, third-place finishes in fencing in ’01, ’02 and ’04, in women’s cross country in `03, and in men’s cross country in ’05; national semifinal appearances in women’s soccer in ’00 and men’s lacrosse in ’01, and a College World Series appearance in baseball in 2002.
Notre Dame has seen its number of athletes earning All-America honors improve regularly – to a record 44 in 2005-06.
Notre Dame’s record-setting `05-`06 season saw 24 of 26 programs send teams or individuals to postseason play. Sixteen of a possible 22 teams earned national rankings in 2000-01, including 10 that achieved the highest rating in the history of the program. In 2001-02, 20 of 26 teams qualified for NCAA competition. In 2002-03, 13 sports managed top 25 national finishes – and 17 advanced to postseason competition. In 2003-04 season an unprecedented 22 teams qualified for NCAA competition, including two (hockey and women’s golf) that accomplished that for the first time and a third (men’s golf) that made the field for the first time in 38 years. Twenty Irish squads in 2004-05 advanced teams or individuals to NCAA play.
Notre Dame in 2002 was the only school in the country to qualify all six of its teams – men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball and football – for fall NCAA tournament competition (or, in the case of football, a bowl game). Notre Dame and Texas were the only schools in 2002-03 to play in football bowl games and have both their men’s and women’s basketball squads advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 round. In 2005, Notre Dame was the only school to win at least twice in both NCAA soccer tournaments and in the NCAA volleyball championship (men’s soccer and volleyball won twice, women’s soccer had three NCAA wins). Notre Dame, Penn State and California were the only schools to win at least once in those three 2005 NCAA tournaments and also play in a Division I football bowl game.
Notre Dame won the BIG EAST Conference Commissioner’s Trophy for overall athletic success in league play in 2001, ’02 and `03 for both men and women (the trophy was no longer awarded after 2003) – and the Irish annually lead the league in conference titles, including a record 13 in 2005-06.
His initial seven years on the job at Notre Dame featured a handful of other noteworthy accomplishments:
He helped the Irish athletic program toward its goal of becoming a top five program in the NACDA Directors’ Cup competition by championing the University’s plan to add 64 grants-in-aid over a four-year span (that goal was announced in December 2000), in order to give all 26 varsity sports the full NCAA complement of scholarships.
He emphasized the need to remain competitive on the facilities front by commissioning a facilities master plan that now provides a long-term plan for upgrading Notre Dame’s athletic physical plant. The first facility from that plan opened in 2005, with the addition of the Guglielmino Athletics Complex that provides a day-to-day home for the Irish football program as well as enhanced space for training, sports medicine, equipment, and strength and conditioning for all Notre Dame student-athletes. Opened in fall 2006 was the 10,500-square foot Robert and Marilyn Rolfs Family All-Season Varsity Golf Facility that serves as the home of the Notre Dame men’s and women’s golf teams. Plans have been announced for a refurbished Joyce Center arena, ground has been broken for a new softball stadium and a major gift has been received for a new lacrosse stadium.
On the academic front, Irish student-athletes enjoyed their most productive year ever in the classroom in 2005-06 – as for the first time in the 2005 fall semester and the 2006 spring semester, every one of Notre Dame’s programs achieved at least a 3.0 grade-point average. A Notre Dame record 14 individuals claimed Academic All-America notice in 2005-06 – followed by 10 more in 2006-07.
The American Football Coaches Association awarded its Academic Achievement Award for 2001 to Notre Dame based on its 100 percent graduation for entering freshmen from 1995 – then again for 2007 based on a 95 percent rate from the class that entered in `01. The University received a 2002 USA Today/NCAA Academic Achievement Award for graduating 90 percent of its student-athletes who enrolled in 1995 – and it also received the 2003 award for highest overall student-athlete graduation rate (92 percent of those who enrolled in 1996).
When the NCAA first issued its Academic Performance Rate graduation numbers in 2005, Irish teams excelled, with 13 of them earning a perfect 1,000 score. In the three-year combined numbers issued in ’07, Notre Dame’s nine perfect scores ranked second (to Boston College’s 10) in the I-A football-playing subset. Notre Dame in ’07 had 11 programs honored for multi-year APR achievement.
Seventeen of 22 athletics programs at Notre Dame compiled graduation rates of 100 percent, according to the Graduation Success Rate figures announced in 2006-07 by the NCAA (no other Division I-A football school had as many as 17). Among 119 I-A football schools, Notre Dame’s GSR numbers ranked second (98 percent) for all student-athletes, second (97) for male student-athletes, tied for fourth (99) for female student-athletes, fourth (91) for black student-athletes and third (95) for football student-athletes. When the final 2005 USA Today football poll of coaches was re-ranked by football GSR score, Notre Dame (11th in the actual poll) finished first in that tabulation at 96, just ahead of Clemson at 94 (21st in actual poll).
The NCAA Division I-A Athletic Directors’ Association gave one of its four 2000 awards of excellence to Notre Dame’s CHAMPS/Life Skills Program.
He assured long-term consistency in the Irish coaching ranks by signing Notre Dame head coaches to multi-year contracts – with all assistant coaches and administrators signing contracts for the first time starting in 2001-02.
He renewed in 2003 Notre Dame’s NBC Sports contract for televising of home football games for five more years (2006-10 for that renewal, extending the relationship to 20 years) and its Westwood One contract for football radio broadcasts for five more years (2003-07). He also created the new football radio network relationship with ISP Sports that begins in 2008 and extends to 2017.
He oversaw the University’s NCAA re-certification process in 2004 as Notre Dame went through that self-study and peer review process for the first time since 1997. The University’s athletic program was recertified without conditions, with the committee noting that Notre Dame is “committed to academic success of its student-athletes and demonstrates this by requiring three more core courses than what is required by the NCAA,” that Notre Dame “student-athletes are quite satisfied with quantity and quality of academic support and attribute much of the success around graduation rates to this service,” and that Notre Dame has “affirmed and demonstrated its commitment to fair and equitable treatment” of male, female and minority student-athletes.
In addition to the varsity athletic component, White’s assignment at Notre Dame also includes administration of a comprehensive intramural, club sport and campus recreation program, with 95 percent of the student body participating. Sports Illustrated On Campus rated the Irish intramural program tops in the nation in ’04.
With a Ph.D. in education, White has taught graduate-level classes beginning in 1982-83 with his tenure at Loras, including currently as a concurrent associate professor in the management department of the Mendoza College of Business as part of Notre Dame’s MBA program during spring semesters (he teaches a sports business course).
White has served on numerous NCAA committees, including the NCAA Council, formerly the association’s highest governing body. In addition to his current role with the BCS, he previously was a member of the Rose Bowl Management Committee while at Arizona State, was an ex-officio member of the Sugar Bowl Committee during his tenure at Tulane and also worked closely with the Fiesta Bowl during his stay in Tempe.
In August 2003, SI.com (the Sports Illustrated web site) listed White third in its rankings of the most powerful people in college football. In its Jan. 12, 2004, issue, The Sporting News listed him in its Power 100 as third among five names in the “front office” category (and the lone college athletics director among the 100). In December 2004, White was named the 15th most influential individual in collegiate sports by Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a member of the NCAA Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) that deals with academics, fiscal reform and student-athlete well-being. He also was an ex-officio member of the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance and a member of its Penalty and Rewards subcommittee.
White has served as mentor for an impressive list of senior level athletic administrators who have worked for him, then gone on to become directors of athletics – including Jim Sterk of Washington State, Tom Boeh of Ohio University and currently Fresno State, Ian McCaw of Northeastern, Massachusetts and currently Baylor, Bruce Van De Velde previously of Iowa State, Herman Frazier of Hawaii, Rudy Keeling formerly of Emerson and now ECAC commissioner, Scott Devine of St. Mary’s College (Md.), Tim Van Alstine of Western Illinois, Mark Wilson of Tennessee Tech, Bubba Cunningham of Ball State and currently Tulsa, Sandy Barbour (who followed him at Tulane) of California-Berkeley, Jim Phillips of Northern Illinois, Bernard Muir of Georgetown, Sandy Hatfield Clubb of Drake, Vic Cegles of Long Beach State and Norwood Teague of Virginia Commonwealth.
White has his own weekly, hour-long radio show on WLS-AM 890 in Chicago – and he has a pre-game segment on Westwood One’s radio broadcasts of Notre Dame football games.
During his coaching career, White served as head track and field coach at Southeast Missouri State (1981-82) and assistant cross country and track and field coach at Central Michigan (1976-80). He began his coaching career at Gulf High School in New Port Richey, Fla., coaching cross country and track and assisting in football and wrestling. White also spent a year (1980-81) as district administrator for athletics and special projects for the Mt. Morris Consolidated School District in Mt. Morris, Mich. During his tenure at Loras, he originated the National Catholic Basketball Tournament.
Born Sept. 25, 1950, in Amityville, N.Y., White earned his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University in 1983 with an emphasis on higher education administration (his dissertation title was An Appraisal of the Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Programs, and the Relationship to Men’s Athletics at the Big Ten Conference Institutions Before and After Title IX Implementation). In 1985 he completed postdoctoral work at Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management. He earned his master’s degree in athletics administration from Central Michigan University in 1976 and his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1972 from St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., where he also competed as a sprinter in track and field. He was awarded St. Joseph’s Alumni Achievement Award in 1997, and he’s currently a member of the Loras College Board of Regents. He was a 2006 inductee into the Suffolk County (Long Island, N.Y.) Sports Hall of Fame.
White also attended the University of South Florida and St. Leo College in Tampa, Fla., between 1972 and ’76 – and he took 60 hours of advanced graduate courses in higher education administration at Michigan State University between 1977 and ’80. He received an honorary doctorate in 2007 from the United States Sports Academy.
White’s wife, Jane, earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph’s in 1973 and a master’s degree in physical education from Central Michigan in 1977. She also served as head track and field coach at Central Michigan. She currently is an instructor with the University of Notre Dame’s physical education department. White and his wife both received honorary degrees from St. Joseph’s in 2001.
The couple have five children – Maureen, who completed a master of fine arts degree at Arizona State in 2000 and currently teaches at Notre Dame Prep School in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Michael, a University of Mississippi graduate and four-year starter at point guard for the Ole Miss basketball team and now an assistant basketball coach at his alma mater (after a stint at Jacksonville State University in Alabama); Daniel, a University of Notre Dame graduate and member of the ’01 Irish basketball squad, who was an assistant basketball coach at Ohio University while earning his MBA in sports administration there, and now is associate athletics director for development at Fresno State University; Brian, a 2006 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and now an MBA student in the Ohio University sports administration program (he served as an intern in the Arizona State athletics department in 2006-07); and Mariah, a high school junior who is a standout in swimming.
The Kevin White Administrative File --
Year School Assignment1982-83 Loras College Director of Athletics1983-84 Loras College Director of Athletics1984-85 Loras College Director of Athletics1985-86 Loras College Vice President for Student Development, Dean of Students1986-87 Loras College Vice President for College Advancement,
1987-88 University of Maine Director of Athletics1988-89 University of Maine Director of Athletics1989-90 University of Maine Director of Athletics1990-91 University of Maine Director of Athletics
1991-92 Tulane University Director of Athletics1992-93 Tulane University Director of Athletics1993-94 Tulane University Director of Athletics1994-95 Tulane University Director of Athletics1995-96 Tulane University Director of Athletics
1996-97 Arizona State University Director of Athletics1997-98 Arizona State University Director of Athletics1998-99 Arizona State University Director of Athletics1999-00 Arizona State University Director of Athletics
2000-01 University of Notre Dame Director of Athletics2001-02 University of Notre Dame Director of Athletics2002-03 University of Notre Dame Director of Athletics2003-04 University of Notre Dame Director of Athletics2004-05 University of Notre Dame Director of Athletics2005-06 University of Notre Dame Director of Athletics2006-07 University of Notre Dame Director of Athletics