HOUSTON — (March 10, 2014) — Sports Business Journal has named Rice University Athletics Director to its list of 2014 “Forty under 40.”
The annual list recognizes “the best and brightest young executives who are shaping the future of the industry,” according to the publication. “In a relatively short time, these go-to executives have demonstrated the type of decision-making and creative thinking that sets them apart from their peers.”
“I was surprised to be selected,” said Karlgaard, who is 39. “I’m very humbled. I hope in five years from now when anyone looks back on this they would say that I deserved this because of what I will have accomplished at Rice. We raised a lot of money at Stanford, so that probably helped me get noticed for this.”
Rice President David Leebron announced Karlgaard as Rice’s director of athletics, recreation and lifetime fitness Sept. 9.
Prior to coming to Rice, Karlgaard served as senior associate athletics director for development at Stanford University and was athletics director at Oberlin College from 2005 to 2011.
“We’re thrilled to be able to attract someone with Joe’s breadth of experience,” Leebron said at the time of Karlgaard’s hiring. “He brings the values of academic excellence and high integrity that define Rice, coupled with a passionate desire to compete successfully at the most competitive level of intercollegiate athletics.”
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 (NCAC) 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.
A Stanford graduate with a B.A. in history, Karlgaard was a four-year letter winner as part of Stanford’s NCAA champion track and field program. Karlgaard received a Ph.D. and master’s degree in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota, where he also served as assistant coach for the men’s track and field and cross country teams from 2000 to 2003. In his final year as a coach at Minnesota, the Gophers won the Big Ten outdoor championship with the highest team score in conference history.
The Sports Business Journal list comprises all areas of sports business, from professional team owners to players’ agents to athletics outfitters. It’s not very common for a Division I athletics director to be named to the list.
“I think about the great work being done by other ADs who are under 40, and it makes me even more humble, because there are some great under-40 ADs out there.” Karlgaard said.