Toledo AD Mike O’Brien signs contract extension through 2021

Jay Skebba

Mike O’Brien has sat in the University of Toledo’s athletic director chair since 2002 and recently inked a contract extension to remain there a while longer, UT announced Wednesday, Oct. 2.
The 60-year old, who began his twelfth year at Toledo this fall, is now signed through July 2021.
“I would like to thank [President] Lloyd Jacobs and the Board of Trustees for the support they have shown not only to me, but to the entire athletics program during my tenure,” O’Brien said in a press release. “I have had the good fortune to be surrounded by incredible student-athletes, coaches and staff who are committed to helping make the University of Toledo such a vital part of our community.”
During his tenure, several athletic programs have had high levels of success.
The football team has appeared in six bowl games, winning the GMAC bowl in the 2005 season and the Military Bowl in 2011. O’Brien hired Tim Beckman as head coach in 2009, now coaching at Illinois in the same capacity.
O’Brien has scheduled non-conference football games with powers such as Boise State, Cincinnati, Florida, Miami (FL) and Ohio State, among others.
The men’s basketball team has competed in two National Invitational Tournaments and tied for first in the MAC West last season. On the women’s side, the Rockets have advanced to five WNITs and won the tournament in 2011.
UT has captured 25 league titles in eight different sports during O’Brien’s time as AD. He’s hired the likes of Tod Kowalczyk (men’s basketball) and Tricia Cullop (women’s basketball), who have both excelled and improved the state of their respective programs.
“With all Mike has accomplished, I am so impressed by his drive and desire to continue to excel and to inspire those around him to greater effort and achievement,” Jacobs said in a press release. “The University of Toledo and the Mid-American Conference are the beneficiaries.”
Athletes have also had success away from competition.
Toledo won the 2011-2012 Cartwright Award, given annually to the athletic program with the highest degree of excellence in academics, athletics and citizenship in the conference.
Over the past nine semesters, UT student-athletes have had an overall grade-point average above 3.1 and won the MAC’s Institutional Academic Achievement Award in 2011-12 and 2012-13, given to the school with the highest GPA among athletes.
“Throughout his tenure, O’Brien has elevated the Toledo Rockets onto the national stage, while prioritizing the ‘student’ in our student-athletes,” Jacobs said. “Guided by his leadership, our student-athletes have achieved unprecedented athletic and academic excellence. Our community can be very proud of its athletics program under Mike’s leadership.”
O’Brien has also spearheaded several efforts to improve the school’s athletic facilities.
In 2010, UT unveiled the brand new Fetterman Training Center next to Savage Arena, a project with a price tag of about $9 million. The facility houses a 100-yard practice field for several sports, a regulation size basketball/volleyball court and other amenities.
Savage Arena received significant upgrades in 2008 to the tune of $30 million. A brand new basketball court was put in along with new suites, club seats and scoreboard, among other improvements.
Renovation is set to begin this winter on Larimer Athletic Complex, UT’s football facility.
“While we recognize there is still much work to be done in the growth of our program, we can be very proud of what we have achieved over the last decade, athletically, in the classroom and in the community,” O’Brien said. “I look forward to leading the Rockets as we strive to reach new heights in the future.”

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