When people from within the athletics industry, including peers in athletics administration, coaches, television executives, NCAA staff, conference commissioners and football bowl directors, are asked to describe Dave Hart in one word, there is commonality in their responses. The words that are most used to best embody his sphere of influence nationally during his decorated career of nearly 35 years in college athletics administration are: Leader, Class, Respect, Visionary, Core Values and Presence.
As a former NCAA Division I student-athlete, coach and athletics director, he has seen the industry evolve from all three perspectives. Dave represents one-third of three generations of athletics directors in the Hart Family. They are the only family that can make that claim. Dave Hart, Sr. enjoyed a Hall of Fame career in athletics administration. He was the Athletics Director at Louisville and Missouri and Commissioner of the Southern Conference. Dave’s son, Rick, is the Athletics Director at SMU. Dave served in a leadership position within the athletics departments at four major universities: East Carolina University, Director of Athletics; Florida State University, Director of Athletics; University of Alabama, Executive Director of Athletics; University of Tennessee, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics.
Highlights of Dave Hart’s Career and Experience in Athletics Administration Include:
• Recipient of National Association of Colligate Director of Athletics (NACDA) highest award, the James Corbett Award. (Given to the collegiate administrator who through the years has most typified Corbett’s devotion to intercollegiate athletics and worked unceasingly for its betterment)
• Two-time recipient of Athletics Director of the Year Award for the Southeast Region.
• Served as President of both National Athletics Directors Associations (NACDA and Lead1Association)
• Served on numerous NCAA National Committees including the NCAA Council.
• Served as a consultant to the National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee capitalizing on being a leader in prioritizing the building of a student-athlete centered athletics department.
• Served as Vice Chairman of the NCAA Football Board of Directors which consisted of conference commissioners and the NCAA President.
• Served as chair of Conference Television Committee as well as Men’s Basketball and Football Committees.
• Made Landmark Diversity hires at each university he has served within the administrative and coaching areas such as Beth Sullivan, the first woman in the SEC to ever be the head coach of a men’s sport (Track and Field).
• Played a key role in expansion and conference realignment efforts and processes within the ACC and SEC.
• Worked with, or was exposed to, legendary coaches such as Bobby Bowden, Nick Saban, Pat Summitt, John Wooden, Paul (Bear) Bryant and C. M. Newton.
• Initiated and led major athletics fundraising campaigns at every university he served resulting in significant facility and scholarship enhancements.
• Negotiated numerous multimillion dollar contracts with coaches, rights holders, apparel companies and other entities covering a variety of other platforms. Led negotiations for the 2016 neutral-site football game at the Bristol Motor Speedway between Tennessee and Virginia Tech which produced a crowd of 157,000 fans – the largest crowd to ever attend a football game at any level.
• Eighteen (18) of the men and women who were former assistants under his leadership have advanced to athletics directors or deputy athletics director positions on college campuses while several others are currently working in various corporate positions.
• Led East Carolina Athletics to unprecedented levels of success including the best football season in school history which included an 11-1 record, a top ten national ranking, Peach Bowl victory over rival NC State and National Coach of the Year honors for Bill Lewis.
During his tenure at ECU he set a new standard relative to athletics marketing. His negotiation of an exclusive television contract with ESPN was unheard of at that time. Only Notre Dame had such a contract. His reputation as a “Trail Blazer” in athletics marketing was solidified at ECU.
• Managed budgets ranging from 1 million to more than 130 million.
• Hired and/or worked with National Championship level coaches in multiple sports.