Expanded role includes community, promotional and marketing involvement
Rick Mello, who has 30 years of experience in collegiate athletics, including 11 years as a Director of Athletics, joined the Rice University Athletic Department staff as Senior Executive Athletic Director in June 2010. He served as the interim athletics director from July-September of 2013 and assumed the role of Deputy Athletics Director in July of 2014.
In his new role, Mello oversees facilities, sports medicine, athletic training, and equipment and serve as the administrative liaison to football, men's basketball, and baseball.
Mello joined the Rice staff after serving as Associate Commissioner/Sports Administration & Championships for the Sun Belt Conference since December, 2006. Prior to joining the conference office, he was the Director of Athletics at two Sun Belt member institutions (Florida International 2000-06 and Arkansas-Little Rock 1995-2000).
In six years as the Director of Athletics at FIU, Mello oversaw the progress of intercollegiate football and transitioned the program to its current FBS status faster than any school in NCAA history. He spearheaded program and stadium improvements for that sport while making strides for improvement in the areas of gender equity and fund-raising.
Mello received approval from FIU's Board of Trustees on the university's stadium project, which opened in 2008. He also increased funding for academic support including $500,000 for summer and 5th year aid.
Additional facility improvements under his watch included a state of the art training room, softball/tennis complex and locker rooms for men's and women's basketball, women's soccer and volleyball. Under Mello's watch, the FIU athletic program had five consecutive years of balanced budgets resulting in an operating reserve in 2006.
The California native served as the director of athletics chair of the Sun Belt Conference Executive Committee from 1996-98 and aided in the development of the locally syndicated Sun Belt Conference basketball television package. He also served two consecutive terms as the SBC representative on the NCAA Division I Management Council and has been chair of the NCAA Administrative Review Subcommittee for four years.
Mello spent five years as director of athletics at UALR where he successfully negotiated a five-year contract with the Alltel Arena that generated upwards of $200,000 in preferred seat license revenue for the university. He also enhanced the UALR Sports Hall of Fame and established the UALR Trojan Foundation and its athletic booster club.
Prior to his tenure at UALR, Mello served three years at the University of Miami (1992-95), where he was responsible for all outside revenue generation as the associate athletic director for external operations (development, ticket operations, marketing and promotions and special events).
Before Miami, Mello spent eight years at the University of California (associate director for media relations, 1984-87; football recruiting coordinator, 1987-90; and assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions, 1990-92). Additionally, Mello was the media relations director at the University of the Pacific (1983-84), assistant executive director of the Cal State Fullerton Titan Foundation (1982-83) and director of marketing and media relations for women's athletics at UCLA (1981-82).
Mello graduated cum laude in journalism from Utah State University in 1980 where he served as assistant sports information director for two years.