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Tommy McClelland joins Rice as athletic director

Photo courtesy Vanderbilt University

By Riya Misra     7/31/23 1:30pm

Tommy McClelland will join Rice as its newest athletic director, following Joe Karlgaard’s departure in July. McClelland, currently the deputy athletic director at Vanderbilt, will start Aug. 14, according to President Reggie DesRoches’ July 30 announcement. 

McClelland’s hire comes soon after Rice formally joined the American Athletic Conference earlier this month. This transition, DesRoches wrote in his announcement, makes McClelland’s goals for Rice Athletics even more critical.

“In addition to leading Rice through the transition to the AAC, Tommy will partner with university leadership in efforts to elevate the university brand, the on-campus experience of all Rice community members and the engagement of the university’s spirited alumni base through the advancement of its intercollegiate athletics enterprise,” DesRoches wrote.

At Vanderbilt, McClelland oversaw Vandy United, a fundraising campaign that resulted in $300 million raised for the university’s athletics department. Before that, McClelland spent seven years as Louisiana Tech’s director of athletics. During his tenure, the university’s football team won six consecutive bowl games, according to ESPN

McClelland also served as the director of athletics at McNeese State University, a position he held for six years. Appointed at age 26, McClelland was the youngest NCAA Division I athletic director at the time, according to DesRoches.

Tanner Gardner, the senior associate director and chief operating officer of Rice Athletics, will serve as the interim Athletic Director from Karlgaard’s departure through McClelland’s start on Aug. 14, DesRoches wrote.

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