May 18, 2009
MANHATTAN, Kan. - John Currie, Executive Associate Athletics Director at the University of Tennessee, was formally introduced Monday as the 15th Director of Athletics at Kansas State.
The appointment will be effective June 7, said incoming President Kirk Schulz, who announced the selection in a morning news conference in the Legends Room of Bramlage Coliseum following a three-month national search that began in March. Currie received a five-year contract at a base salary of $350,000 per year with incentives to be agreed upon in the first 120 days, according to Schulz.
"We are excited about the future of K-State Athletics under the leadership of John Currie," Schulz said. "Throughout his career, John has demonstrated tremendous fundraising skills and fiscal management. He is a dynamic communicator with proven experience working with all sports, and his high energy, along with his integrity and character, make him the perfect fit for Kansas State."
Currie, 38, has served in various capacities at Tennessee over the last decade, most recently as a chief deputy and advisor to Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton.
"Ever since the 2001 Cotton Bowl, when Mary Lawrence and I witnessed the passion of what seemed to be 50,000 K-Staters, we have admired the dedication and loyalty of Wildcat fans and the discipline and toughness of not only Bill Snyder's football teams but also the entire K-State athletics program," Currie said. "This opportunity to join Dr. Schulz's team here at Kansas State is a tremendous honor and we are excited to join the K-State family."
As a key aide to Hamilton, Currie was responsible for the direct management of units that annually produced $84 million in revenue and gifts, including the department's fundraising, marketing, ticketing, media relations, public relations, internet and broadcasting offices. Currie also provided oversight for the men's basketball program and other department initiatives.
Currie's accomplishments at Tennessee included helping the University secure a $50 million commitment in 2006 for academic and athletic needs, a gift which represented the largest from an individual in Tennessee history. Units under his direction also negotiated an $84 million multi-media rights contract with then-Host Communications, and a $19.3 million all-sport contract with Adidas. Under his leadership, giving to Tennessee athletics doubled from $19.5 million in 2003 to $41.6 million in 2008.
An integral member of the facility planning team for UT's $200 million master plan renovations for Neyland Stadium, Currie led the negotiation and implementation of new student season ticket sales for football in 2008, resulting in $900,000 of new department revenue in its first year. He also implemented new regular-season football sales strategies that helped Tennessee set a new single-game attendance record of 109,061 in 2004.
Currie also oversaw a $36 million arena renovation and basketball practice facility construction project that was completed in the fall of 2007. He developed and implemented the revenue models to fund both projects without outside funding from the state or local government, tax dollars or University-derived support.
Tennessee's athletic facilities as a whole benefitted from Currie's efforts as the development office secured individual-naming recognition gifts that included $4 million for a new aquatic center, $2 million for a new softball stadium, $1.5 million for a new soccer stadium and $2 million for baseball renovations. Tennessee's track complex also was renovated, while ground was broken last summer for a new Greg Norman-designed intercollegiate golf practice complex and clubhouse.
Currie managed the coaching search in March 2005 that resulted in the hiring of Bruce Pearl, who produced a 22-8 record, SEC Eastern Division Championship and a No. 2 NCAA Tournament seed in his first season en route to 2006 National and SEC Coach of the Year honors. Pearl also went on to earn SEC Coach of the Year honors again in 2008 after leading the Vols to the program's first outright SEC title in 41 years.
Currie oversaw the development and execution of a comprehensive marketing plan to take advantage of the excitement generated upon Pearl's arrival at Tennessee as attendance at SEC home basketball games improved 54 percent from the previous year, while student attendance increased by 197 percent.
Currie joined the Tennessee staff in 1997 as Executive Director of the Volunteer Athletic Scholarship Fund (VASF). Following a two-year stint as Assistant Athletics Director at Wake Forest, Currie returned to Knoxville in 2000 as Assistant Athletics Director for Development and served as director for the "STEP UP" campaign. As UT's first-ever capital campaign, it exceeded its goal and reached a total of $48.6 million, $4 million over the intended goal, with gifts from 870 donors. In 2002, Currie was promoted to Associate Athletics Director for Development.
He served as President of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) development officers group for 2004-05, chaired the 2007 CASE national athletic development conference and was a member of the SEC ticket policy committee. The Knoxville News Sentinel recognized Currie in December 2008 by naming him to its prestigious "Top 40 Leaders Under 40" list.
He began his professional career at Wake Forest in 1993 as a Deacon Club intern before being named Assistant Deacon Club Director in 1994, a position he held until 1997.
Highlights of Currie's stints at Wake Forest include developing student and young alumni programs, creating a new endowment and planned giving program, managing the Coaches Circle volunteer program and assisting in the leadership of the Touchdown 2000 football field house and Miller Center basketball practice/academic counseling facility campaigns.
Currie earned his masters in sports management from Tennessee in 2003 and is a 1993 Wake Forest graduate. He and his wife Mary Lawrence, have three children, Jack, Virginia and Mary-Dell.
What They're Saying About John Currie
Rick Baker - President, AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic
"John Currie is the perfect hire for Kansas State. He is one of the dynamic young leaders in intercollegiate athletics today. Wildcat fans are going to enjoy his engaging personality, tremendous work ethic, and an impressive administrative background that he will bring to the Kansas State athletic program. We look forward to welcoming John into the Big 12 Conference."
Joseph R. Castiglione - Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics, University of Oklahoma
"Even though it has been from a distance, I've had a unique opportunity to watch and get to know John Currie as he developed within this profession. He always impressed me with his passion to learn. He consistently sought opportunities which would ultimately help him to be highly successful in fulfilling the role he had at the time or to meticulously prepare for larger leadership roles in the future. In fact, I have seen him exhibit many great leadership qualities. He's bright, articulate, innovative and will strengthen or build great relationships as the vision for K-State Athletics is established. I look forward to working with him."
Joan Cronan - Women's Athletics Director University of Tennessee
"I'm so excited for John, but he will truly be missed. He has been instrumental in our capital campaign to help us build some of the finest women's athletics facilities in the country."
Mike Hamilton - Men's Athletics Director, University of Tennessee
"John has truly been an invaluable member of our team. While he will definitely be missed at Tennessee, I am tremendously excited for John and for Kansas State because I know what a great job he'll do there. He has a tremendous work ethic and he's incredibly organized. John will be a guy that will come in with a plan for Kansas State athletics that will be mindful of the history and traditions of the institution but be one that will continue to move the athletic department forward in new and exciting ways."
Ron Wellman - Director of Athletics, Wake Forest University
"John is one of the rising stars in our profession. He has the background, the experience, the relationships, the attitude, the intelligence, the understanding of intercollegiate athletics to be an emerging star. Kansas State has made a great hire in John Currie."
Bruce Pearl - Men's Basketball Coach, University of Tennessee
"John Currie's going to be a tremendous athletic director. He's been so important to our program. He's been one of the guys that has helped us get to this point. It's definitely a great hire for Kansas State."
Jan Simek - Acting President, University of Tennessee
"John Currie will be a valuable addition to the Kansas State family as he has been an important member of the University of Tennessee family. The quality of our athletic operations today is a tribute to his dedication. John has made an impact at UT by fostering a cooperative effort between the University and the athletic department, especially in donor relations. He will be greatly missed, and we wish him much success for the future."
Dan Beebe - Commissioner, Big 12 Conference
"I congratulate John Currie on becoming the athletics director of Kansas State and I look forward to working with him in his role."
Todd A. Diacon - Vice Provost for Academic Operations, SEC/NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative, University of Tennessee
"As a native of Wellington, Kansas, I am especially proud of John Currie and his appointment as AD at Kansas State University. John is one of the new breed of athletics directors, meaning his background is not coaching, but rather athletics administration and developmentwhich is necessary to succeed in today's world of intercollegiate athletics. He learned from one of the best in the business, UTAD Mike Hamilton, and I know he will apply at Kansas State the considerable lessons he learned here.
"I especially admire John's commitment to the academic success of student-athletes. In my role as Faculty Athletics Representative John has always supported academic reform efforts, be it a mandatory class attendance policy with game suspensions for unexcused class absences, or a push to improve the academic profile of admitted student-athletes. Since his arrival at UT he has reached out to our faculty, and has worked tirelessly to improve relations between the athletic and academic sides of the university.
"John reads voraciously in his favorite fields of history and politics. He is as comfortable speaking with professors as he is with coaches. He will be as effective a voice for the whole student experience at KSU as anyone. He is, in short, a gem of a hire, and I congratulate Kansas State University for their fine choice."
Andrea Loughry - Past Vice Chairman, University of Tennessee Board of Trustees
"John is a polished individual who will be a great representative for the student-athletes at Kansas State. He approaches everything with a "what can I do for you" attitude and has a very positive outlook on life. He is a balanced individual, a true professional and a dedicated family man who really seeks balance in his life. He will really be missed at Tennessee."
Molly Baird - University of Tennessee Soccer Student-Athlete
"He really cares about the student-athletes. He wants us to be the best at everything we do in life and has really worked to help us become better people in the process. Kansas State student-athletes will be lucky to have him."
Dane Bradshaw - Former University of Tennessee Men's Basketball Player
"As an athlete, I experienced some of the worst of times in athletics and some of the best of times. Through all of that I learned it's not just what you do as an athlete but the people that surround yourself with. John Currie and the athletic department were able to do that for me with the hire of Bruce Pearl, which changed my life in a positive way that I will forever be indebted to Tennessee for."