University of Toledo Rocket fans can count on Mike O’Brien’s steady hand at the wheel of athletics into the next decade following today’s announcement that his contract as the vice president and athletic director has been extended through July 2021.“Throughout his tenure, Mike O’Brien has elevated the Toledo Rockets onto the national stage, while prioritizing the ‘student’ in our student-athletes. Guided by his leadership, our student-athletes have achieved unprecedented athletic and academic excellence. Our community can be very proud of its athletics program under Mike’s leadership,” UT President Lloyd Jacobs said.
“With all Mike has accomplished, I am so impressed by his drive and desire to continue to excel and to inspire those around him to greater effort and achievement,” Jacobs said. “The University of Toledo and the Mid-American Conference are the beneficiaries.”
“I would like to thank Dr. Jacobs and the Board of Trustees for the support they have shown not only to me but to the entire athletics program during my tenure. I have had the good fortune to be surrounded by incredible student-athletes, coaches and staff who are committed to helping make The University of Toledo such a vital part of our community,” O’Brien said.
“While we recognize there is still much work to be done in the growth of our program, we can be very proud of what we have achieved over the last decade, athletically, in the classroom and in the community. I look forward to leading the Rockets as we strive to reach new heights in the future.”
In the last year alone, O’Brien has been named Football Bowl Subdivision Northeast Region Athletic Director of the Year and accepted the 2011-12 Cartwright Award, given annually to the MAC athletic program with the highest degree of excellence in academics, athletics and citizenship. That same year, the Rockets took home the Jacoby Trophy as the MAC’s top women’s athletic program for the first time in school history.
The Rockets have won or shared 25 league titles in eight different sports under O’Brien’s 12-year watch. In the classroom, UT student-athletes have earned overall department grade point averages above a 3.1 in each of the past nine semesters, and UT won the Mid-American Conference Institutional Academic Achievement Award in 2011-12 and 2012-13, presented annually to the school with the highest grade point average.
During O’Brien’s tenure, UT has earned six bowl appearances in football, two NIT appearances in men’s basketball and five WNIT appearances in women’s basketball, including a WNIT Championship in 2011. Women’s soccer has advanced to the NCAA Tournament four times, while men’s golf has competed in the NCAA Championships twice. UT women have qualified for the NCAA Championships in either track or cross country a combined 15 times and received All-America recognition nine times since 2002, in addition to winning four cross country titles. In women’s swimming and diving, UT has won two MAC Championships, while four Rockets have qualified for the NCAAs, with one twice earning All-America honors.
O’Brien has led the renovation and construction of sports facilities to meet the needs of an ascendant athletics program. New or renovated facilities include an outdoor track, tennis courts, soccer fields, Savage Arena, Charles A. Sullivan Athletic Complex and Fetterman Training Center. A renovation of the Larimer Athletic Complex is set to begin this winter.
He has served as the chair of the Mid-American Conference Athletic Director’s Committee, and is currently the conference’s athletic director representative to the Bowl Championship Series. He also has served as a member of the NCAA Division I Football Issues Committee and chairs the MAC Football Coaches Committee.
O’Brien also led efforts to add Ohio State, Miami (Fla.), Colorado, Purdue, Arizona, Missouri, Navy, Fresno State, Boise State, Wyoming and Cincinnati to the home football schedule; worked with the Inverness Club to bring the 2009 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships to Toledo; and secured a multi-year deal with Learfield Sports to increase UT’s advertising revenue.
O’Brien and his wife, Michelle, have a son, Jack.