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Athletic Director Mark Massari, who has overseen the athletics department for the past six years, announced last Wednesday he would be leaving UCSB to become the deputy athletics director at Oregon State University.
Massari will be stepping down Aug. 1 to return to Corvallis, Oregon, where he worked in intercollegiate athletics from 2002-08 before being named athletic director at UCSB in August 2008. During his six-year tenure at UCSB, Massari oversaw an athletic department of approximately 500 student-athletes participating in 20 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I sports, as well as over 100 staff members.
In a farewell letter, Massari said he is leaving due to “several personal and professional reasons,” but that he appreciated all that the UCSB community has done for him and his family.
“This is a bittersweet moment for us as we have developed so many wonderful and lifelong friendships,” Massari said in his farewell letter. “The job of Athletic Director is a good one made tremendous by the company I was blessed to keep. Thank you for being part of our lives. We have loved being Gauchos.”
Prior to serving as Athletic Director at UCSB, Massari worked for the athletic department at Oregon State, where he was the general manager of Beaver Sports Properties from 2002 to 2006 and the Senior Associate Athletic Director at Oregon State from 2002 to 2008. While Massari has been director at UCSB, athletic teams have had numerous achievements which include men’s basketball making the NCAA tournament in back to back seasons for the first time in program history, men’s baseball returning to NCAA Regional competition for the first time in 12 years and men’s soccer setting a record for most fans to ever attend a college soccer match on campus.
According to Massari, the “tremendous growth and success” to Gaucho intercollegiate athletics has been a collaborative effort between alumni, donors, staff and student athletes.
“Our graduation rates for student-athletes is at an all-time high, so are the number of donors supporting athletics annually,” Massari said in his farewell letter. “Seventeen NCAA appearances, record crowds and thousands of hours donated to the community later, I beam with pride on what was accomplished collectively.”
As athletic director, Massari hired new coaches Carlene Mitchell in 2011, who led women’s basketball to consecutive postseason appearances in her first two seasons, and Nicole Lantange Welch in 2013, whose women’s volleyball team won a Big West title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in her first season. In addition to finding new coaches, Massari secured contract extensions with basketball coach Bob Williams and men’s soccer coach Tim Vom Steeg.
According to Williams, who has coached the Gauchos for 16 seasons, Massari has done a great deal to improve UCSB athletics.
“Mark has done some very innovative and impressive things here at UCSB,” said Williams. “He completely changed the fundraising, marketing and branding for our department, all of which has raised our profile considerably, and he’s done great things with numerous facilities.”
In his first year at the university, Massari launched the “Dare to Be Great” campaign, a strategic plan for athletics that included facility improvements, the Gaucho Fund donor program and Gauchos Give, a community service program carried out by student athletes.
Massari’s work for the athletics apartment will benefit university athletics programs for years to come, said Williams.
“Some of the programs he has put into place will be his legacy and this department will continue to benefit from them,” Massari said. “He has definitely made a lasting impact on Gaucho Athletics.”
During Massari’s tenure, the graduation rate of UCSB athletes has risen to a record-high 85 percent, and the university’s graduation rate among student athletes is currently the highest in the Big West Conference and second highest in the UC system.
Steve Fenk, an Associate Athletic Director for Communications at Oregon State, said the athletic department is excited to have Massari back at OSU.
“Mark is a tremendous addition to our athletic department and brings a great deal of sports marketing expertise,” said Fenk. “He will be a great benefit to our Department and University as he understands our fan and donor base and what we strive to accomplish at Oregon State.”
[Correction: In a previous version of this story quoted Steve Fenk referring to Mark Massari as "Mike" rather than "Mark". Fenk actually referred to Massari by his correct first name, "Mark".]
A version of this story appeared on page 1 of Wednesday, June 25, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.