Joe Karlgaard was introduced as Rice's new director of athletics, recreation and lifetime fitness on September 9, 2013.
Karlgaard came to Rice from Stanford University where he served as senior associate athletics director for development. Prior to Stanford, Karlgaard was athletics director at Oberlin College from 2005 to 2011.
At Stanford, Karlgaard was responsible for helping set the strategic direction for a $90 million annual budget and led the Athletics Department's efforts in delivering the greatest single-year increase in the school's fundraising history, to $52 million in 2012.
In his time at Oberlin, Karlgaard led an unparalleled rise in varsity sports. Oberlin set institutional records in the North Coast Athletic Conference All-Sports Trophy in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011. During his tenure, 12 of 22 varsity programs achieved their highest conference placement in NCAC history. Eleven Oberlin athletes were named conference players of the year and more than 400 were named to all-conference teams. Karlgaard also mentored four conference coaches of the year.
In addition to guiding Oberlin's competitive improvements, Karlgaard led the enhancement of athletics facilities and raised record amounts of money. Oberlin invested $8 million in athletics facilities improvements over five years, with most of the funding provided through private gifts. Kahn Track and Shults Field, a $3 million stadium for track and field, soccer, and lacrosse, was the crown jewel of the college's outdoor facilities. The Don Hunsinger Tennis Courts, constructed in 2007, played host to the 2010 NCAA Division-III Men's Tennis Championships. Williams Field House, a $3 million LEED-Gold rated indoor practice facility, opened in 2009. Karlgaard also effectively reached out to Oberlin's alumni base by raising more than $500,000 through the Heisman Club and ushering in several major gifts for facility improvements.
Prior to becoming Oberlin's director of athletics and physical education, Karlgaard served as the assistant athletic director for external affairs during the 2004-05 academic year. In just one year, he tripled the number of active donors to the Heisman Club and redesigned the athletic department's publications.
A 1996 graduate of Stanford University with a bachelor's degree in history, Karlgaard was a four-year letter winner in track and field for the Cardinal. He returned to Stanford in 1998 as an assistant to Vin Lananna, his former coach. While on staff, Karlgaard helped guide the men's track and field squad to the NCAA Division-I outdoor title, its first since 1934.
Karlgaard left Stanford in 2000 to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Minnesota, where he also served as an assistant coach of men's cross country and track and field. In 2003, his final year in coaching, Minnesota won the Big Ten outdoor championship with the highest team score in conference history - 168.5 points. Karlgaard received his Ph.D. in educational policy and administration in 2005.
Karlgaard and his wife, Jill, have one son, Charlie and a dog Fleener.
Comments about Joe Karlgaard:
Bob Bowlsby, former director of athletics at Stanford and now the commissioner of the Big 12 Conference: "Joe Karlgaard will be an outstanding director of athletics at Rice University. As a colleague at Stanford, Joe consistently contributed to and enhanced the excellence of the program. Dr. Karlgaard is innovative, energetic and exceedingly insightful in his approach to developing successful teams and in building winning organizations."
Marvin Krislov, president of Oberlin College: "Joe helped restore the rich tradition of Oberlin athletics during his six-year tenure as athletics director. In addition to strengthening Oberlin's competitive profile, Joe improved our athletics facilities and raised record amounts of money. The Oberlin College Department of Athletics is stronger and healthier because of Joe Karlgaard."