Athletics News

Blair Selected for NCAA Pathway Program

June 21, 2017

by Chuck Pool (cpool@rice.edu) -

Rice Senior Associate Athletics Directory Bryan Blair is among 25 senior-level athletics administrators from across the country who have been selected to participate in the 2017 NCAA Pathway Program.

The Pathway Program is designed to elevate those currently in senior-level positions within athletics administration to the next step in reaching their goal of becoming directors of athletics. The year-long program is an intensive, experiential learning opportunity for selected participants representing NCAA Divisions I, II and III.

Since its inception in 1997, the Pathway Program (formerly the Fellows Program) has produced more than 100 alumni. Nearly 25 percent of the participants have gone on to become directors of athletics, while more than 60 percent have received promotions in their careers.

“This is a terrific honor not just for Bryan but for the entire athletics department,” Rice Director of Athletics Joe Karlgaard said. “Many institutions nominate senior leaders for this opportunity but very few are selected. Bryan is a highly deserving choice and we are proud he is a Rice Owl."

“The NCAA Pathway Program is nationally acclaimed as the preeminent professional development opportunity for aspiring athletics directors and is extremely competitive,” Blair said. “I can't thank Dr. Karlgaard enough for helping make one of my biggest professional goals a reality. My selection is testament to Rice, the great people who work there.”

Blair originally came to Rice in 2011 as Compliance Coordinator and returned to South Main in 2014 after two years as the Assistant Director of Compliance Services at South Carolina. He was named the Owls’ Associate Athletics Director for Compliance in February of 2014 and was promoted to Senior Associate AD / Sport Administration & Compliance.

In this role, he serves as a member of the athletics department's senior leadership team, while overseeing 6 of the department's 16 NCAA Division I sports. In addition, Blair serves as the secondary sport administrator for Rice's football program. As sport administrator, he oversees all aspects of each program, including responsibility for personnel, budgeting, facility projects, fundraising, student-athlete welfare and overall program evaluation.

In addition to his sport oversight responsibilities, Blair coordinates Rice's NCAA compliance efforts while supervising sports medicine, strength & conditioning, and sports nutrition. Blair also serves as the advisor for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and leads "The WHO" -- a department wide initiative focused on workplace happiness, teamwork and appreciation.

In 2016, Blair was chosen for the nationally acclaimed D1A Institute (now "LEAD1"). The goal of the Institute is to help the participants, nominated by their universities' athletics directors, be better prepared to move into the role of athletics director. After the Institute, Blair was recognized by LEAD1 President and CEO, Tom McMillen, as a "Future Leader of College Sports".

During the yearlong program, participants identify how values fit into thier philosophy and execution of leadership within college athletics and higher education. They also develop knowledge in areas such as budgeting, strategic planning and fundraising for both your current job responsibilities and while transitioning to the role of director of athletics.

The Pathway Program kicks off for all divisions during a weeklong session in late June at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis. Throughout the year, program dates and locations will then cater to each division’s needs, such as participating in governance meetings and media and interview training. Skill building will take place in the areas of values clarification, leadership, media training, diversity and inclusion, and well as an in-depth look and introduction to search firms and the hiring process within college athletics.

In addition to the in-person programming throughout the year, participants will be paired with both a presidential and director of athletics mentor to assist in navigating the year.

To wrap up the year, all participants come together and are recognized at the annual NACDA convention luncheon.


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