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SBJ/March 21-27, 2011/Forty Under 40
Forty Under 40
Published March 21, 2011, Page 4A
Getting back into college athletics “was one of the best things I ever did,” said Byrne, whose father, Bill, is AD at Texas A&M. “Being away from college athletics made me appreciate what I had been missing. I was fortunate to get back in.”
Byrne recovered quickly, joining Larry Templeton’s staff at Mississippi State and then succeeding him as AD in 2008. Byrne went on to take the top job at the University of Arizona, where he’s now in his second year. In that short time, he’s seen the expansion of the Pac-10, facility improvements and the January tragedy that devastated Tucson.
Byrne responded quickly by postponing Arizona’s basketball game against Stanford the night of the shooting at a local grocery store. While it wasn’t a difficult decision, per se, Byrne called it the biggest decision he’s had to make at the school.
Now he’s on to the kind of facility decisions that often earmark an AD’s stay at a school. A $70 million project will transform the north end of the football stadium, while a sparkling new scoreboard will dramatically alter the south end. As the AD at Mississippi State, Byrne saw the impact when he installed one of the nation’s largest video boards at Davis Wade Stadium, providing a platform for new revenue and game-day enhancement. He believes a similar project at Arizona will be a game-changer as well.
“Watching TV in your living room is so good that we have to invest to keep people coming back,” Byrne said. “The other piece of that is providing our student athletes with the best facilities possible because nearly all of them that come here to go to school and train have aspirations of going to the next level.”
Title: Director of athletics
SCHOOL: University of Arizona
Education: B.S., Arizona State University, 1994; master's, Mississippi State University, 2008
Family: Wife, Regina; sons, Nick (15) and Davis (13)
Career: Special projects coordinator/internship, Fiesta Bowl, 1993-95; regional director of development, University of Oregon, 1995-98; associate athletic director for development, Oregon State University, 1998-2002; associate athletic director for development and fundraising, University of Kentucky, 2002-05; associate athletic director, external relations, Mississippi State University, 2006-08; promoted to AD in 2008; named AD at Arizona in May 2010
|Last vacation: Alaskan Cruise, last summer
What's on your iPod: Brad Paisley, Johnny
Cash, MercyMe, Kid Rock, Bruce Springsteen
Guilty pleasure: Blizzards from Dairy Queen
Best stress release: Holding hands with
Pet peeve: Insincerity
Greatest achievement: Being a father and a husband
Greatest disappointment: When you leave a program you don't always get to see the results of
Fantasy job: Commissioner of the PGA Tour
Business advice: Be honest, have passion for
what you do and don't watch the clock.