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Mark Hollis Announces New Leadership Structure in Athletics Administration

Aug. 15, 2015

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State Athletics Director Mark Hollis has announced a new leadership structure for the Spartan Athletics administration team in an effort to streamline decision making and collaboration within the department, while also providing leadership opportunities and creating greater efficiency.

“We have great people throughout our entire department,” Hollis said. “There’s no question that we wouldn’t be able to support a broad-based 25-sport program that has excelled in postseason competition and the demands that success brings without the incredible dedication of our staff. The valuable resources and experience they provide are one of the main reasons for the continuing success of Spartan Athletics. The essence of being a Spartan is helping each other and working together toward one common goal.

“Moving forward, this leadership team of 20 individuals will help operate and manage the department at a first-class level, just like many of them have been doing for the past several years. The executive associate athletic directors and senior associate athletic directors will especially play a critical role in leading our department as the intercollegiate model continues to evolve and change in the years ahead. I’m focused on the management of the department in the areas of services for our student-athletes, hosting first-class events, generating revenues and allocating resources. In addition, I’m looking to streamline the administrative activities of the department as a fifth component. These changes are more so designed to maximize efficiency and cooperation between units, and will not have a significant financial impact on the department.”

Earlier this summer, Hollis was named vice chair of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee for the upcoming 2015-16 season, and chair of the committee for the 2016-17 academic year. Hollis has served on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee since 2012.

“I believe there is value for the institution in having a voice at the national level, while at the same time having great people on campus to provide the continuity of leadership,” said Hollis. “I’m excited to begin working under this new structure as it will only benefit and improve our core mission of Spartan Athletics, which is to teach, support and celebrate our student-athletes in their quest for excellence.”

Greg Ianni, who has been on the athletics administrative staff since 1993, will remain in his role as Deputy Director of Athletics, a position he has held since 2010. Ianni oversees the Spartans' athletic facilities and works toward the development of long-range plans for improving those sites. In addition to his facilities duties, Ianni administers event management for all sports and serves as the sport administrator for daily operations for football and men's basketball. Ianni will have oversight of the day-to-day operations of the department when Hollis is on the road.

Hollis has appointed Shelley Appelbaum, Jim Pignataro, Paul Schager and Chuck Sleeper to serve as Executive Associate Athletic Directors, who will each be coordinating one of the primary four areas of focus: student-athletes, allocation of resources, events and revenue.

Appelbaum joined the MSU administration in 1999 as an Associate Athletic Director and Senior Women's Administrator and became the school's first female Senior Associate Athletic Director in 2005. She will coordinate the student-athlete group, which includes oversight of all sport management issues. Appelbaum also oversees gender equity, diversity, governance and strategic planning initiatives. Additionally, she is a conduit between the MSU Athletics Department and the Big Ten and NCAA offices, maintaining strong relationships with those groups. Most recently she completed a four-and-a-half year appointment to the NCAA Championships/Sport Management Cabinet from the fall of 2010 through the winter of 2015. Appelbaum was appointed to the NCAA Competition Oversight Committee as a part of the new NCAA governance structure with a term beginning in June 2015.

Pignataro will head the resource allocation group, which will evaluate the funding of many different components including the core areas of scholarships, operations, compensation and facilities. He has been the Associate Athletic Director for Student Services and Director of Student-Athlete Support Services (SASS) at Michigan State the past 13 years, and has overseen the Sports Medicine and Performance Department (athletic training, sports medicine, strength and conditioning) since 2007. Under his leadership, Spartan student-athletes have posted better than a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average for nine consecutive semesters, including a department-record 3.0791 GPA during the spring semester of 2015. In his new role, Pignataro will have a lead role coordinating the collaboration between the various focus groups.

Schager is in his 18th year at Michigan State and has spent the past seven years as the Associate Athletics Director for External Operations. In addition to managing the ticketing operations and sales and marketing office, he leads the department's branding and marketing initiatives. His primary area of focus as an Executive Associate Athletic Director will be managing and supervising events and Spartan game days. Schager plays a vital role in maintaining relationships directly with MSU Athletics’ corporate partners, as Michigan State remains one of the only schools among the NCAA autonomy conferences that deals directly with its clients rather than turning those responsibilities over to third-party enterprises.

Sleeper joined the MSU Athletics Department in 2002 and was promoted to Senior Associate Athletics Director for Development in 2005. He will be in charge of the revenue focus group. Sleeper oversees a 20-member Spartan Fund development team and during his tenure has orchestrated a period of unprecedented growth in private support with over $250 million in gifts and commitments raised.

Peggy Brown, Alan Haller and Jen Smith will all move into roles as Senior Associate Athletic Directors and execute significant administrative components of the department.

Brown, who has served as the Michigan State athletic business manager since 1991, is planning on retiring in 2016. She was promoted to Associate Athletic Director in 2003 after being promoted to Assistant Athletic Director in January of 1994. Brown, who graduated from Michigan State in 1984 with a degree in accounting, began her career at MSU in 1988. She has numerous responsibilities, including budget, accounting, purchasing, payroll, travel coordination and postseason arrangements.

Brown's grandfather, Lyman Frimodig, is a charter member of the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame. The only 10-time letterwinner in Spartan history, he later served his alma mater 41 years as assistant athletics director and business manager.

Brown will remain in control of the financial functions of the department up until her retirement. With Brown’s scheduled departure, Hollis has made plans for the business office to reorganize her duties in the future, including financial management, budgeting, postseason planning and various other administrative components.

Haller is beginning his sixth year with MSU Athletics as an Associate Athletic Director for Administration and his third as the executive director of the Varsity ‘S’ Club. He has led the transition of the Varsity ‘S’ Club into being a fully integrated part of the MSU Athletics Department. In addition, Haller’s relationships with current and former student-athletes continues to be an important asset for the athletic department and the overall well-being of the student-athletes. In this role, he helps manage student-athlete conduct and accountability. Prior to his appointment in athletics, Haller, a former Spartan defensive back and NFL veteran, was a 1st Lt. for the MSU Police Department and served on the force for 13 years.

Smith, who also reports to the Office of the General Counsel, has been directing the compliance department for the past 14 years. In addition, she will lead the streamlining of administrative activities. Smith will continue to play a prominent role in the scholarship allocation for student-athletes, including housing, board, books, cost of attendance and student-athlete opportunity fund distribution. She was promoted to Associate Athletic Director for Compliance in 2002 and served as the compliance coordinator from 1999-2001 and also spent three years as the assistant compliance coordinator.

Rick Atkinson (event management), Scot Schlesinger (corporate relationships) and Mark Schoenl (major gifts of the Spartan Fund) will join Wendy Brown (ticket operations) and John Lewandowski (communications) as Associate Athletic Directors with broad department responsibilities and direct oversight of operating units within the department.

Additional leadership positions as Assistant Athletic Directors have been assigned to Tim Allen (Director of Football Operations), Josh Morton (Spartan Fund), Kevin Pauga (administration) and Megan Vanderveen (human resources), who will join Richard Bader (sport administration), Holly Baumgartner (compliance) and Tim Day (Spartan Fund) in this role.

Allen, who is entering his eighth season as Director of Football Operations, oversees the day-to-day operations and budget of the football program. His duties include coordinating team travel, bowl game preparations, future scheduling and facility updates to the Skandalaris Football Center. Allen also manages the summer camps program and serves as head coach Mark Dantonio’s liaison to the equipment staff, training room, video department, field maintenance and all athletic administration.

Pauga, who has been the Director of Men’s Basketball Operations for the past six seasons, will move from the men’s basketball program to the administration team. Pauga will fill some of the activities of Brown in the business office, including long-term budgeting, charter and travel coordination, and postseason planning, and will also be engaged in scheduling and special projects assigned by the athletics director.

Since his official appointment as athletics director began in 2008, Hollis has led one of the most successful periods in the history of Michigan State athletics. The Spartans have won one National Championship (2014 women’s cross country) and 27 Big Ten Championships (regular season and tournament), appeared in three Final Fours and seven bowl games, and own seven top-40 finishes in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. In addition, during Hollis’ tenure as an administrator at MSU, the Spartans have appeared in 18 consecutive men’s basketball NCAA Tournaments – tied for the longest streak in Big Ten history and the third-longest active streak in the nation – and seven Final Fours. The football team is the only program to win a Bowl Championship Series game during the 2013 season (2014 Rose Bowl over Stanford) and a New Year’s Six Game during the 2014 season (2015 Cotton Bowl over Baylor), and has finished in the top five in both national polls the past two seasons.

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