ROCHESTER, Mich. – Oakland University Director of Athletics Jeff Konya has been selected as one of Under Armour’s Athletic Directors of the Year for 2016-17, announced by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) on Thursday. Konya came to Oakland in August 2014 and has led the Golden Grizzlies to consecutive McCafferty Trophies, awarded to the Horizon League’s all-sports champion.
“I humbly accept this award on the behalf of our incredible student-athletes, coaches and staff,” said Konya. “We are a process-driven organization that strives to give maximum effort and a positive attitude each and every day. The buy-in from all throughout the organization has been commendable and this award is a reflexion of their collective hard work. I extend my gratitude to the selection committee for this great recognition.”
NACDA recognizes Athletic Directors for their commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses and their surrounding communities. The celebration will take place on Tuesday, June 13 at the NACDA Convention, in Orlando, Fla., during the James J. Corbett Awards Luncheon at the World Center Marriott Resort.
“Jeff has transformed Oakland Athletics and he has developed a great student-athlete experience for all of us,” said Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President and volleyball senior Bre Reveley. “He realizes the importance of the journey of the student-athlete and that this journey goes beyond the court, pool, field, etc.
“As a student-athlete, knowing that your AD is doing everything in his power to go above and beyond to make your experience as a student-athlete the best one you can have shows his passion for what he does. He is the most deserving candidate for this award that I can imagine.”
Konya has put together one of the top senior staffs and led Oakland to unprecedented success. He immediately identified some opportunities in athletics by hosting a brainstorming session with faculty, staff, alums, donors and students. From that feedback, Oakland launched the Wear the Bear marketing campaign that focused on the bear head logo as Oakland’s primary mark. The impact of strategic marketing objectives like targeted t-shirt giveaways and an enhanced interactive gameday experience, has resulted in more students on campus wearing Oakland gear and a new sense of pride for the university.
"The Athletics Director of the Year Award honors those men and women who are visionary leaders in college athletics," said Nick Carparelli, Under Armour senior director of college sports. "Under Armour is proud to partner with NACDA to facilitate this recognition for the top athletic directors across all divisions."
Konya worked with his executive staff to develop an Ethos for Oakland Athletics, which is focused on providing a first-class experience for student-athletes. By focusing on the process rather than results, Oakland has built a foundation that has led to consecutive McCafferty Trophies, and the favorite to capture a third straight all-sports title this year. The Golden Grizzlies have also led the Horizon League in all seven semesters of competition in the Horizon League in Academic Honor Roll selections. Along with all the success in the classroom and in competition, Oakland staff and student-athletes perform over 3,000 hours of community service annually.
Continuing with his branding initiatives, Konya and his marketing team developed an idea to create three unique floors and have the fans vote on Oakland’s next basketball court. With over 10,000 votes from fans, the Golden Grizzlies launched The Blacktop for the 2015-16 season. It has been recognized as one of the most unique floors in the country by the Associated Press, USA Today, Yahoo! Sports, Washington Post and on ESPN’s His & Hers Show. Additional efforts have seen the Golden Grizzlies become the No. 1 social media athletics property within the Horizon League on sites like Twitter as of January 2017. The Golden Grizzlies also recently launched a new website design for www.goldengrizzlies.com and a new to the market smartphone app in 2016, becoming the only non-football school to produce a Gameday Live app.
The creation of the Black and Gold Awards, a student-athlete celebration, has been hosted by the prestigious Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit and has been a huge hit with the student-athletes, fans and parents of the Golden Grizzly family. Oakland invited local media, business leaders and university leaders to present awards that range from Athlete of the Year to Best Film, created by the student-athletes. Here is a look at last year's show: 2016 BGAs.
Fundraising has reached new heights under Konya's direction. The Golden Grizzlies witnessed records in 2015-16, seeing a 63 percent increase in sponsorship, and a 41 percent increase in donations. This includes the largest signed sponsorship deal in school history with Crittenton Hospital and the Oakland University Credit Union. Ticket sales also saw a 40 percent increase in 2015-16 and Oakland earned a top 10 recognition in all of NCAA Division I for men's basketball average attendance increase over the previous year.
“As we continue to provide the best student-athlete experience and fan engagement, I cannot thank our faculty, staff, fans, donors, and our administration for their immense support of Athletics,” said Konya. "Go Golden Grizzlies!”
About NACDA: NACDA, now in its 52nd year, is the professional and educational Association for more than 11,000 college athletics administrators at more than 1,600 institutions throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. More than 6,500 athletic administrators annually attend NACDA and Affiliates Convention Week. Additionally, NACDA manages 17 professional associations and three foundations. For more information on NACDA, visit NACDA.com.