MSU AD Mark Hollis welcomes the start of the 2017-18 school year, while reflecting on his arrival at MSU as a freshman in 1980.
MSU inducted eight new members into the Hall of Fame on Thursday.
MSU AD will be vice chair for the upcoming season.
Hollis has more than 30 years of athletics administration experience, either at the school or conference level. His well-rounded background has led to his knowledge of all areas within an athletics department, including marketing, financial administration, television negotiations, fund-raising, game operations, facility management, personnel policy, corporate interaction, sports management and public relations.
A 1985 MSU graduate, Hollis returned to his alma mater in 1995 as the associate athletics director for external relations. Since then, he has been a critical component of the athletic department executive management staff, helping guide the department through short- and long-range plans. In addition, Hollis spent five years on the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee and served as the committee chair in 2016-17. He also was a former chair of the NCAA Division I Amateurism Cabinet and a former member of the NCAA's Men's Basketball Issues Committee.
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 30 Big Ten Championships (regular season and tournament), appeared in three Final Fours and eight bowl games, and own nine top-50 finishes in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup. In addition, during Hollis' tenure as an administrator at MSU, the Spartans have appeared in 20 consecutive men's basketball NCAA Tournaments -- the longest streak in Big Ten history and the third-longest active streak in the nation -- and seven Final Fours. The football team appeared in the 2015 College Football Playoff and has also won the Rose Bowl (2014) and Cotton Bowl (2015) in addition to three Big Ten titles in Hollis' tenure.
Hollis is credited with developing some of college athletics' most innovative events. It was his vision that led to Michigan State playing North Carolina in November 2011 in the first basketball game to be played on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. In 2003, Hollis was the architect of the "BasketBowl," which established a then-world record crowd of 78,129 who witnessed the Michigan State-Kentucky game at Detroit's Ford Field. The concept, which involves placing the court in the center of a football stadium, has been used at the last nine NCAA Final Fours. In 2001, Hollis helped mastermind the Michigan State-Michigan outdoor hockey game that attracted a then world-record crowd of 74,554 in Spartan Stadium. His ingenuity and experience in intercollegiate athletics led to his induction into the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators (NACMA) Hall of Fame in June 2015.
Future events Hollis designed include a 16-team men's college basketball tournament with Nike-sponsored schools in Portland, Oregon, in November 2017 to celebrate Nike President Phil Knight's 80th birthday.
Hollis was instrumental in landing a strategic long-range partnership between MSU Athletics and FOX Sports that was announced in April 2016. The two parties agreed to a new multimedia rights deal effective for the 2016-17 academic year in which MSU will grant FOX Sports marketing and corporate partnership rights associated with its 25 varsity sports programs. The rights will be managed by FOX Sports College Properties, a division of FOX-owned Home Team Sports, and will include in-venue signage, print, radio, television programming, corporate hospitality, digital and social media integration, promotional and experiential activities, and intellectual property rights and official designations. The 15-year agreement will provide guaranteed revenues in excess of $150 million.
In June 2015, Hollis was named the recipient of the National Football Foundation John L. Toner Award, which is presented annually to an athletics director who has demonstrated superior administrative abilities and shown outstanding dedication to college athletics and particularly college football. Hollis was officially honored at the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 8, 2015, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.
During Hollis' tenure, Michigan State student-athletes have excelled not only in competition, but in the classroom as well. For 13 consecutive semesters, Spartan student-athletes have posted better than a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average. More than 400 student-athletes (426) posted a cumulative GPA above 3.0 in the spring semester of 2017, marking the highest total in the history of the department for the spring, and 18 teams maintained a cumulative 3.0 GPA. The spring semester of 2017 also saw Spartan student-athletes compile both the highest spring term in program history (3.1009) and the highest cumulative grade-point average in department history at 3.1380.
Additionally, 291 student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors and 102 garnered Big Ten Distinguished Scholar accolades throughout the 2016-17 academic year. Furthermore, 315 student-athletes were honored at the 2017 SASS Academic Excellence Gala (student-athletes with at least a sophomore academic standing and a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA).
Spartan athletic facilities have been upgraded at an unprecedented rate the past decade -- including more than $115 million at Spartan Stadium -- and will only continue to improve under Hollis. A $13 million addition to the south end of Spartan Stadium is scheduled to open prior to the 2017 season. Construction on the 20,000-square-foot single-story project, which began in February 2017, will include the addition of 236 bathrooms, four concession stand areas, and movement of the ticket entrances out from the stadium structure to create donor plazas and renovated gates similar to the North End Zone. A $24.5 million project to the north end of Spartan Stadium was completed in August 2014 that features a two-story, 50,000-square-foot addition as well as an entrance plaza, renovated gates, and additional restrooms and concessions. The building includes new locker rooms for teams, coaches and officials, a media center, and an engagement center for all varsity sports. Prior to the 2012 season, $10 million scoreboards, totaling 13,300-square-feet, were installed in the north and south end zones, giving MSU one of the top video board systems in the nation.
The Spartans moved into one of the nation's finest football facilities in August 2008, as a $15 million expansion and renovation project for the Duffy Daugherty Football Building was completed. MSU alumni Robert and Julie Skandalaris of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, donated $5 million as the lead gift for the facility expansion and upgrade. The Skandalaris Football Center includes team, staff and position meeting rooms, coaches' offices and a hall of history. In the summer of 2015, the Spartans opened a renovated locker room in addition to a new state-of-the-art Sports Medicine and Performance Center in the Skandalaris Football Center.
Hollis' vision of the entire athletics administration working in the same building will come true this fall as the Michigan State Athletic Department moves into the brand new 1855 Place on Harrison Road, across the street from the Breslin Center. The mixed-use 102,000-square-foot office building, which also houses MSU Residential and Hospitality Services, will include administration, athletic communications, business office, compliance, sales and marketing, Spartan Fund and the Spartan Ticket Office.
In October 2015, a major facilities upgrade -- focused on improving the visitor experience -- and the construction of a Michigan State University Basketball Hall of History at the Breslin Student Events Center was approved by the MSU Board of Trustees. The $50 million project will be funded by the university ($30 million) and MSU Athletics ($20 million). The work began in January 2016 and substantial completion is expected by August 2017, with final completion set for June 2018. The improvements that will be addressed include: expanding and improving concession areas and concourses; improving bathroom facilities; upgrading passenger and freight elevators; improving exterior entrances and parking lots; and replacing chiller and water connections. The project also features a 26,000-square-foot addition that will house the MSU Basketball Hall of History. The Draymond Green Strength and Conditioning Center, accessible from both auxiliary gyms on the mezzanine level, will be constructed below the Hall of History.
Numerous Olympic sports have also seen their facilities upgraded on campus. On June 1, 2016, the Lasch Family Golf Center, the new 15,000-square-foot home of the MSU men's and women's golf teams, was officially dedicated. The $6 million facility includes an indoor practice area, student-athlete lounge, men's and women's locker rooms, coaches' offices, video room, weight room and a kitchen area featuring nutrition/hydration stations. In addition, more than $6 million has been spent on updates to Munn Ice Arena since 2014, including new video boards, chairback seating, concourse improvement and ice improvements.
In 2008, the men's and women's soccer programs opened DeMartin Stadium, a 2,500-seat facility that enables MSU to host conference and national tournaments, and the facility added lights in 2017. The baseball program played its inaugural season in McLane Baseball Stadium in 2009 following a $4 million donation to the 2,500-seat ballpark by former Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. In 2011, with the help of a $1 million gift by alumnus Ambassador Peter F. Secchia -- the largest cash (outright) gift received by an MSU women's intercollegiate sports program -- Secchia Stadium, a 1,100-seat facility located at Old College Field, opened for the softball program.
Eight teams advanced to their respective NCAA Championships in 2016-17, including the men's basketball team, which extended its NCAA Tournament streak to 20, the fourth-longest in NCAA history. The women's golf team won its fifth Big Ten title in the last decade to extend Michigan State's run of winning at least one Big Ten Championship to 21 consecutive years. Another six programs were represented by individuals at NCAA Championship events.
Headlined by a Big Ten Championship in football, the school's third conference title in six years, the Spartans finished in the top 50 of the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings for an 18th consecutive year in 2015-16. Michigan State earned a berth in the College Football Playoff following its victory over No. 4 Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game and finished in the top 10 of the national polls for a third straight year (No. 3 in 2013, No. 4 in 2014, No. 6 in 2016), a first for the program since 1955-57. The men's basketball team tied a conference record by winning its fifth Big Ten Tournament title and set a Big Ten record by advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the 19th year in a row. Men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, volleyball, women's basketball, and women's gymnastics also advanced to their respective NCAA Championships.
Michigan State had another banner year in 2014-15, as the women's cross country team captured the first-ever women's NCAA Championship in school history, the men's basketball team advanced to the Final Four, the football team defeated No. 4 Baylor in the Cotton Bowl Classic, and long distance runner Leah O'Connor captured an individual national championship in track (indoor mile). The women's cross country team also won its second straight Big Ten Championship and the women's track and field team won its first outdoor Big Ten title since 1982. The football team extended a school record and tied a Big Ten record with its fourth consecutive bowl win and finished the season with an 11-2 record and a No. 5 ranking in both of the national polls. In addition, the men's soccer team advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight for the second consecutive season, the volleyball team earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth year in a row, and the men's cross country team placed 24th at the NCAA Championships. The Spartans closed the fall season ranked No. 5 in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings. Men's basketball not only reached the NCAA Tournament for the 18th straight year, tying a Big Ten record, it made a run to the Final Four for the ninth time in school history after topping Louisville in the East Regional Championship. In addition to winning the Big Ten outdoor title, the women's track and field team posted Top 25 finishes at the NCAA Indoor (24th) and Outdoor (20th) Championships. The gymnastics team also advanced to postseason competition, earning a berth in the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2012. Michigan State finished 34th in the final 2014-15 Directors' Cup standings.
Fueled by six Big Ten Championships (regular season and tournament), which tied the department record, Michigan State placed 29th in the 2013-14 Directors' Cup standings, tied for the fourth best in department history and second highest under Hollis. Led by the Big Ten and Rose Bowl Championship football team, the Spartans closed the fall season at No. 2 in the Directors' Cup. MSU won a school-record 13 games, finished No. 3 in both national polls, defeated No. 5 Stanford in the 100th Rose Bowl Game, and topped No. 2 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. In addition to winning the Big Ten Tournament, field hockey advanced to the Elite Eight, along with men's soccer, and volleyball reached the regional round of the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. MSU maintained its excellence in women's cross country and women's golf, as both programs captured their third Big Ten title in four years. On the hardwood, men's basketball won its fourth Big Ten Tournament title and reached the Elite Eight, while the women's team claimed its second Big Ten regular-season championship in four years and received its sixth consecutive NCAA bid. Individually, O'Connor won her first national championship by taking first in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
On the playing field in 2012-13, Michigan State ranked 30th in the Directors' Cup standings. In the fall, the football team appeared in its sixth consecutive bowl game with a win over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, men's soccer won the Big Ten Tournament title, volleyball advanced to the Sweet 16, and the men's and women's cross country teams reached the NCAA Championships. Among the winter sports, the men's basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16, the women's basketball team earned an NCAA Tournament bid for the fifth straight season, and two Spartans earned national runner-up honors at the NCAA Track and Field Indoor Championships. The achievements continued in the spring, as men's tennis received its first-ever bid for the NCAA Championships, women's golf placed a school-record ninth at the NCAA Championships, and women's track and field placed 18th at the NCAA Championships.
In 2011-12, MSU won three Big Ten Championships (women's cross country, men's basketball and women's golf) and the football team won the 2011 Big Ten Legends Division title and played in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans finished ranked No. 10 in the final USA TODAY Coaches Poll after winning 11 games, including a dramatic 33-30 triple-overtime victory over Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl. The men's basketball team captured a share of the conference regular-season championship, won the 2012 Big Ten Tournament title, and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. Overall, nine sports participated in their respective team NCAA Championships, while individuals competed in five more NCAA Championships. The Spartans finished 34th overall in the 2011-12 Directors' Cup standings.
Michigan State won five Big Ten Championships in 2010-11. The football team won a then school-record 11 games and claimed the program's seventh Big Ten Championship, the baseball team won its first Big Ten title since 1979, while the women's cross country, women's basketball and women's golf teams also won conference championships. In 2009-10, the men's basketball team advanced to the Final Four for the sixth time in 12 years and won its second straight Big Ten regular-season title, and field hockey captured both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament championships.
One of Hollis' major goals upon becoming athletics director was accomplished in 2010 when he unveiled the new brand and identity program for the athletics department. All of Michigan State's uniforms now incorporate consistent use of colors, logos, lettering and numerals along with standardization for logos.
In Hollis' first full season as athletics director in 2008-09, Michigan State enjoyed one of its most successful years of the decade with a 27th-place finish in the Directors' Cup, the best showing for the department since 2003 and the third highest in the department's history. Ten teams earned bids to their respective NCAA Championships, led by men's basketball, which reached the national title game against North Carolina while also winning the Big Ten regular-season championship.
Hollis was named athletics director designate on Sept. 12, 2007, and teamed with Mason in the transition throughout the fall of 2007. Prior to his official appointment as athletics director, Hollis played a lead role in two significant head coaching searches during the 2006-07 year. He spearheaded the effort to hire Mark Dantonio as football coach, which has resulted in a school-record nine consecutive bowl appearances, three Big Ten Championships (2010, 2013, 2015), a Rose Bowl Championship (2014) and a College Football Playoff appearance (2015). He also provided major assistance in the hiring of women's basketball coach Suzy Merchant in the spring of 2007, who led the Spartans to the Sweet 16 in 2009 and has brought MSU to seven NCAA Tournaments. Hollis' first hire as athletics director arrived on July 2, 2008, when he tabbed Jake Boss Jr. to direct the Spartan baseball program; in just three seasons, Boss won a Big Ten title in 2011, the first for the program in 32 years, then followed in 2012 by guiding MSU to the NCAA Tournament.
ADDITIONAL BIO INFORMATION
Hollis was named the associate athletics director for external relations at Michigan State in November 1995. He coordinated marketing and promotions, community relations, special-event fundraising, sports information, ticket operations, spirit groups, broadcast services and corporate sponsorships. He received the National Marketer of the Year Award by NACMA in May 2002.
On Oct. 13, 2005, Michigan State University and WJR - 760 AM announced a five-year agreement to carry Spartan football and men's basketball games, along with coaches' radio shows. The successful partnership led to the announcement on Jan. 19, 2010, of a 10-year extension through 2020. Hollis played a leading role in finding MSU athletics a home on the 50,000-watt Detroit radio station, known as the "Great Voice of the Great Lakes." The agreement has benefited more than just athletics as WJR regularly promotes the academic accomplishments of the university in addition to broadcasting sporting events.
Prior to returning to Michigan State, Hollis spent two years at the University of Pittsburgh as assistant and associate athletic director. Before his stint at Pitt, Hollis worked for the Western Athletic Conference. He joined the WAC as an administrative assistant immediately after college. Two years later, he was appointed assistant to the commissioner and soon thereafter was promoted to assistant commissioner.
Hollis earned his bachelor of arts degree in communication from Michigan State in 1985, where he served as a basketball team manager under Jud Heathcote. In 1992, he earned his MBA in business administration from the University of Colorado.
He and his wife Nancy, have a daughter, Katy, and two sons, T.R. and Michael.
HIGHLIGHTS IN HOLLIS' TENURE AS ATHLETICS DIRECTOR AT MSU
• One NCAA Championship (2014 women's cross country) and 30 Big Ten Championships (regular season and tournament)
• Three Final Fours (2009, 2010, 2015)
• Nine bowl games, including three consecutive BCS/New Year's Six games (2014 Rose Bowl, 2015 Cotton Bowl, 2015 College Football Playoff Semifinal at Cotton Bowl)
• Nine top-50 finishes in Learfield Sports Directors' Cup
• 14 consecutive semesters of student-athletes posting a cumulative grade-point average better than a 3.0, including a record 3.138 in the spring of 2017
• Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Athletic Director of the Year (2012)
• National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators Hall of Fame Inductee (2015)
• National Football Foundation John L. Toner Award (2015)
• NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee Member (Vice Chair in 2015-16; Chair in 2016-17)
• NCAA Division I Amateurism Cabinet -- Former Chair
• NCAA Men's Basketball Issues Committee -- Former Member