Rick Hart was named SMU's Director of Athletics on July 16, 2012.
During Hart’s five years on the Hilltop, SMU student-athletes have excelled in the classroom, as 269 of SMU’s 413 student-athletes currently hold cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or higher – over 65% of the student-athlete population.
SMU has also excelled athletically, winning 17 conference team championships and consistently finishing among the leaders in the American Athletic Conference, with eight sports finishing in the top two of their respective conference in 2016-17. Eleven of SMU’s 17 teams were then represented in post-season competition. SMU student-athletes won 20 individual conference championships and earned 81 All-Conference honors last season alone.
SMU has also connected with the community, with Mustang student-athletes logging over 2,000 community service hours in the 2016-2017 academic year, exceeding the equivalent of an entire year's worth of work. The community has responded to SMU as well, increasing attendance at events and donations to the department.
In 2016, SMU averaged 23,712 over six home football games, which is the most since Ford Stadium opened in 2000. Men’s basketball surpassed 100,000 in attendance for the fourth straight season in 2016-17, while women’s basketball saw a 109% increase in average attendance.
Due to the generosity of alumni and friends, annual fund support has grown each of the last five years. The Mustang Club annual fund raised $5.2M during the 2016-17 campaign, the third-largest fundraising year in the history of the Mustang Club, with each of the three most successful years having come during Hart’s tenure.
The increased revenues have been reinvested in the student-athlete experience. SMU now provides full cost of attendance for student-athletes and greater access to meals and snacks following NCAA legislation changes, and has added staff related to student-athlete development, including a nutritionist and additional strength and conditioning coaches.
During Hart’s time, SMU has renovated and expanded Moody Coliseum and opened the new Miller Event Center and SMU Tennis Complex. Construction of the Robson-Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium will be completed in the fall of 2017, with the grand opening slated for Homecoming weekend. The SMU Golf facility at Trinity Forest is nearing completion and both the men’s and women’s teams will host tournaments there in the upcoming year. SMU has also announced a facility master plan that will address future needs and includes an indoor performance center and soccer stadium.
Hart also developed and installed the Strategic Plan for SMU Athletics titled, "The SMU Advantage." The SMU Advantage consists of a departmental vision, mission, values and goals and operates on a principle of S.P.I.R.I.T. (Service, Passion, Integrity, Respect, Innovation and Teamwork), with a focus on the student-athlete and aligning the Athletics Department with the educational mission of the University.
Hart has served on the NACDA Executive Committee, the NCAA Division I Championship/Sports Management Cabinet, the FCS Athletics Directors Association Executive Committee and as a faculty member for the D1-A Athletics Directors' Institute. Hart is an active speaker, and has made presentations at the Career in Sports Seminar, the NACDA Leadership Institute, the Texas High School Athletic Directors’ Association and the Dallas Women’s Club, to name a few.
Hart came to SMU after six years as Director of Athletics at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Hart served seven years at the University of Oklahoma in various athletics administrative capacities, ending as the Senior Associate Athletics Director in 2006. Hart has also worked in athletics for the University of North Carolina and East Carolina University and has served with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
A graduate of UNC, Hart earned a bachelor's degree in physical education, health and sport science. Hart and his wife, Allison, also a graduate of North Carolina, are proud parents of Trevor and Caroline (Carly).
A third-generation athletics administrator, Hart's father, Dave, served as Director of Athletics at the University of Tennessee, Florida State and East Carolina, and his late grandfather, Dave Sr., served in a variety of roles within collegiate athletics including stints as a Coach, Athletics Director and Conference Commissioner.