>> "Jamie Pollard Never Forgets Who He Was Because It Shaped Him For Today," Ames Tribune (9/30/13)
Iowa State University’s athletics brand has likely never been stronger than today and much of the credit goes to Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard, who just completed his eighth season leading an 18-sport athletics department with more than 450 student-athletes.
The enthusiasm for Cyclone athletics is peaking and that is the result of Pollard’s vision and the collective efforts of the entire staff. Key indicators in areas like competitiveness, ticket sales, fundraising and academic success are all trending upwards.
At the same time, the department has invested heavily in facilities and is sound financially (creating a reserve) despite eliminating its reliance on state funding in 2011.
Pollard’s mission to raise the profile of the Cyclones has been accomplished with a relentless work ethic, a creative approach to problem solving and a belief that Iowa State Athletics can excel in the Big 12.
Here are a few headlines from his tenure, including several from the 2012-13 campaign:
- Iowa State was one of only six schools nationally to play in a bowl game and NCAA Tournaments in both basketballs and volleyball last year;
- 'The Cyclones were 41st in the 2013 Directors’ Cup standings, its second-best mark ever and tops in the state of Iowa for the third time in four years;
- There has been a re-engagement by Cyclones fans, documented by record season ticket sales in its five major sports (football eclipsed 40k tickets in ’12, men’s basketball set an all-time mark for season tickets and women’s basketball was No. 2 nationally in attendance);
- With the completion and grand opening of the Cyclone Sports Complex (for track & field, soccer and softball) and the Bergstrom Football Training Facility last year, the department has invested more $100 million in facility work under Pollard;
- Student-athletes have recorded a higher GPA than undergraduates in seven of the last eight seasons and their grad rate was third-best in the Big 12 last year;
- Launched a new digital network – Cyclones.tv – that has evolved into a dedicated cable channel in-state (meaning Iowa State joins Texas as BYU as the only schools with such a channel);
- Growth in a kids club (Junior Cyclone Club) has increased from 2,000 to 5,500 members under his leadership;
- Record annual Cyclone Club donations (surpassing $7 million a year ago for the first time).
In addition to his responsibilities at Iowa State, Pollard has served as chair of the Big 12 Athletics Directors Committee and the Big 12 Wrestling Committee and is First Vice-President of the Division 1A Athletics Directors Association.
While chair of the Big 12 AD group, the league solidified its stability with the hiring of a new commissioner, a long-term grant of television rights, the addition of two new members and a bowl alliance with the SEC.
Early in his administrative career, Pollard outlined his perfect fit for an athletics department he someday wanted to lead. The characteristics included schools with Midwestern values, strong academic reputations and a highly competitive athletics conference. When the Iowa State job opened, Pollard knew it was a great fit and pursued the position with enthusiasm.
His arrival at ISU was preceded by three years (2003-05) as Deputy Athletics Director at the University of Wisconsin. He handled the overall administration of the athletics department for Barry Alvarez, who was then serving as A.D. and football coach.
Pollard was the Badgers’ chief financial officer and senior associate A.D. from 1998-2002. He was sports administrator for men’s and women’s basketball and the men’s team won two Big Ten titles and advanced to the Elite Eight of the 2005 NCAA Tournament. He also served as Tournament Director for the 2002 NCAA Men’s Basketball Midwest Regional.
A strategic financial plan that Pollard authored (“Keeping Big Red in the Black”) helped UW Athletics climb out of debt and develop a $15 million reserve.
Before his stint at Wisconsin, Pollard served as associate A.D. for administration at the University of Maryland (1994-98) and associate A.D. for internal operations at St. Louis University (1989-94).
He was also employed at Arthur Andersen (1987-89) as a Certified Public Accountant prior to beginning his athletics administration career. Pollard also founded and operated Collegiate Financial Services, LLC – a private data research company that provided strategic financial planning and research services – for several years.
Pollard’s business acumen is well-respected nationally and he has been honored several times for that expertise.
In 2003, Pollard received a Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal’s “Top Forty Under 40” award, which goes to the most influential and creative individuals in athletics under the age of 40. He was the first intercollegiate sports administrator honored by the magazine.
Pollard was chosen 2002 Business Manager of the Year by the Collegiate Athletic Business Managers Association (CABMA), an organization for which he served as president.
Pollard received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1987 from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. That same year, he was the NCAA Division III national champion in the 5,000-meter run. A two-time All-American for the Titans, Pollard was inducted into the UW-Oshkosh Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999. He was named the Titans’ Senior Male Athlete of the Year in 1987 and honored as the school’s Outstanding Young Alumnus in 1996.
He and his wife, Ellen, have four children (Thomas, Annie, Maggie and James). The Pollard family’s local philanthropic efforts have benefitted Blank Children’s Hospital, Variety Children’s Charity and United Way of Central Iowa.