Tommy McClelland II
Since stepping on campus in July of 2013, the cornerstone of Louisiana Tech Director of Athletics Tommy McClelland’s leadership has been the philosophy of building champions on the playing fields, in the classrooms and in life.
While leading Louisiana Tech into the Conference USA era, McClelland impacted the athletics department through fundraising, facility improvements, coaching hires and overall student-athlete development.
If 2015-16 is any indication, McClelland’s philosophy is paying dividends in Ruston. During McClelland’s third year sitting in the AD chair in Ruston, the University’s student-athletes combined to record one of the most successful years in recent history.
“What a great job by our coaches, our student-athletes and our support staff this past year,” said McClelland. “It was truly a memorable year in so many ways. We preach building champions on the field, in the classroom and in life, and I truly believe we had more than our share of all of those during the past 12 months.
“I think this year was one we can build upon. We never want to be satisfied, and we are always striving for even greater things. That’s our philosophy. However, when we look back at the past year, we know that a lot of blood and sweat and tears went into the successes that Louisiana Tech and its student-athletes had on the playing fields and in the classroom.”
How impressive was 2015-16?
Louisiana Tech joined Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and Ole Miss as the only five Football Bowl Subdivision schools to recorded 9-plus wins in football, 20-plus wins in men’s basketball and 40-plus wins in baseball. That’s pretty elite company.
It was also one of only 12 FBS programs to play in the postseason in each of those three sports, joining Florida, Connecticut, Florida State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Washington, Duke, Arizona, Utah and Miami (Fla.). Not a bad crowd in which to be included.
The impressive year started in late August when the brand new $23 million Davison Athletics Complex – which encloses the south end of Joe Aillet Stadium – opened and the second largest crowd in Tech football history watched the Bulldogs defeat Southern in the season opener.
It was just the beginning of a great season for head coach Skip Holtz and the Bulldogs, who defeated Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State 47-28 in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. It was the first back-to-back bowl victories by LA Tech in program history (Tech defeated Illinois in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl).
The year culminated in June when the Bulldog baseball team – which was picked 11th in the preseason C-USA Coaches Poll – earned its first ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, winning a pair of games in Starkville while advancing to the regional championship game against Mississippi State. The Diamond Dogs posted 10 wins over Top 25 teams, including a three-game conference sweep of the Rice Owls. Tech earned the program’s first ever at-large berth and its first regional appearance since 1987, defeating 4-time NCAA champion Cal State Fullerton. Tech’s 42 wins were the sixth most in program history and the most since 1988.
It was a truly memorable year on the playing fields, including:
The Bulldog golf team shocked everyone in route to capturing the Conference USA team title (its first since 1980) and clinching the program’s first ever appearance in the NCAA Regionals.
The Lady Techster tennis team recorded the program’s first win over a nationally ranked team (defeated No. 45 Georgia State) while also earning its first ever national ranking. Chad Camper was named the LSWA State Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons.
The Lady Techster soccer team qualified for the C-USA Tournament for the third time in four years and recorded the program’s 100th win. Katie Sloan also became the 17th student-athlete in LA Tech history to earn Academic All-American honors.
The Lady Techster softball team recorded a 32-win season, its first back-to-back 30-plus win seasons since the late 1990s. Tech won five straight league series for the first time in program history and fell just percentage points shy of winning the West Division. Tech also drew a program home record 1,927 fans against LSU.
The Bulldog basketball team won 23 games, eight of those coming against teams that participated in the postseason, including Ohio State and Florida Gulf Coast. Tech advanced to its fourth straight postseason tournament, while senior guard Alex Hamilton was named the Conference USA Player of the Year and honorable mention AP All-American.
The LA Tech track and field teams also had some impressive individual performances as Jermey Hicks earned second team all-American honors in the indoor 60-meters, advancing to the NCAA Indoor Championships. Adams represented the University in the NCAA Outdoor Championships, competing in the long jump in Eugene.
Off the playing field, the LA Tech Athletics Department had a stellar year as well. Seventy-five student-athletes earned their bachelor’s or master’s degrees while 151 made the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll and 27 received the C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal.
Tech’s student-athletes recorded a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 83 percent and a Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) of 62 percent, with both being record highs for the University. Louisiana Tech's 83 percent graduation success rate ranks as the second highest in the state among Division I football-playing public institutions, trailing only LSU by one point (84).
Louisiana Tech also made the announcement in the fall that it partnered with adidas America, Inc. to establish a transformational 5-year exclusive agreement that will outfit all 16 NCAA men's and women's programs in adidas uniforms, apparel, footwear and equipment through the 2020-2021 athletics season.
Tech alumni and fans also continued to buy in to the vision for the athletic department as the Louisiana Tech Athletics Club (LTAC) set an all-time high in total LTAC giving and most total LTAC donors.
2015-16 was truly amazing.
Shortly after his hiring in 2013, McClelland re-energized the LA Tech fan-base when he joined President Guice in an October press conference revealing the updated plans for the Davison Athletics Complex located in the south endzone of Joe Aillet Stadium - the centerpiece of the University's Quest for Excellence capital campaign. McClelland completed the fundraising needed for the project, and the new facility opened in August of 2015. It generates an additional $500,000 annually in revenue.
Another marquee addition to the Louisiana Tech athletic facilities during McClelland's tenure is the $1.2 million Paul Millsap Vision presented by Community Trust Bank, a high definition video display board in the Thomas Assembly Center. The project also included a customized sound system for the Thomas Assembly Center and a video board control room, which will be utilized for both football and basketball.
These two major facility improvements and additional smaller scale projects were made possible through a pair of record-setting years in fundraising. During the 2013-14 fiscal year, McClelland spearheaded the efforts in raising more than $10.8 million through both LTAC and Quest for Excellence; more than double any previous year in Tech Athletics history. Included in the record total were five, seven-figure gifts.
The 2014-15 fiscal year saw record totals in Louisiana Tech Athletic Club (LTAC) unrestricted donations -- both in dollar figures and in total number of donors. It also included increases in ticket sales in football, men's and women's basketball.
Tech had plenty of success stories on the playing fields during those first two years, led by the Bulldog basketball team winning back-to-back Conference USA regular season titles and advancing into the NIT with impressive road wins over SEC foe Georgia (2014) and Texas A&M (2015). The Dunkin' Dawgs tied the program single season wins record (29) in 2014 and totaled 56 wins during the two year span.
On the gridiron, the Bulldog football team captured the Conference USA West Division title in 2014, recording a 9-5 overall record and barely falling to Marshall in the C-USA title game. Tech earned an invitation to the Heart of Dallas Bowl and promptly defeated Big 10 foe Illinois 35-18.
Tech sophomore Victor Lange became the first Bulldog golfer ever to earn an NCAA Regional appearance, competing in the San Antonio Region in 2014 and Lubbock Region in 2015.
He also hired one of the rising stars in college baseball in Greg Goff, a 21-year coaching veteran. In just two seasons in Ruston, Goff led the program to this year's NCAA Regionals before being hired by SEC member Alabama.
Prior to coming to Ruston, McClelland made a national name for himself after quickly elevating to the athletics director position at age 26. He earned high praise from a number of high-profile, experienced athletic administrators.
"Tommy McClelland is an outstanding leader and one of the nation's rising stars in intercollegiate athletics," said Bubba Cunningham, athletics director at the University of North Carolina. "He has a demonstrated commitment to supporting and developing his coaches and student-athletes and has already become well-known among ADs for his leadership, vision and character. Tommy has also shown a dedication to lifelong learning and the application of his skills and talents to making his athletic programs better."
Prior to being named athletic director at McNeese State on March 19, 2008, McClelland served as interim athletic director and assistant athletic director of internal affairs at the university.
In his time at McNeese, McClelland and his staff had numerous success stories when it came to increased revenue streams and the overall game-day experience in Lake Charles. He raised more than $3 million in private donations, and he was instrumental in increasing corporate sponsorships to nearly $1 million, while securing new clients and multi-year sponsorships.
McClelland was also responsible for increasing football season ticket sales: the program eclipsed the 8,000 mark in 2008 with a high of 8,035 in 2009. In addition, he was instrumental in setting single-game attendance records in baseball, volleyball, softball, soccer, women's basketball and women's tennis.
"Tommy is a rising star in the college athletics administration field and, in my view, the ideal leader to advance Louisiana Tech's athletics program as it transitions into Conference USA," said Ian McCaw, former athletics director at Baylor University. "He possesses impeccable integrity and has an extraordinary work ethic. Moreover, his interpersonal and relational skills are outstanding and will enable him to quickly connect with Bulldog fans as well as campus and community leaders."
One of McClelland's main goals was to improve the life of the student-athletes and increase the game-day experience for the McNeese State fan base. One of the most effective ways to accomplish these goals was by improving the facilities. During his time at McNeese State, he oversaw a combined total of over $11 million dollars in facility renovation and new construction.
The combination of increased revenue streams, renovations and new construction, and a highly-involved fan base led to plenty of success stories on the playing fields. During his tenure as athletic director, McNeese won Southland Conference championships in football (2007, 2009), soccer (2006, tournament; 2007, regular season), softball (2010, tournament; 2013, regular season), men's basketball (2011, regular season), women's basketball (2011, regular season; 2011 and 2012 tournament) and men's cross country (2012). The women's basketball program made its first appearances ever in the NCAA Tournament, and the men's basketball program hosted the first round of the NIT postseason tournament (Boston College live on ESPNU).
Even more impressive is the fact that while the Cowboy and Cowgirl programs were capturing titles on the fields, the University's student-athletes were making tremendous strides in the classroom. In five of McClelland's six years as athletics director, McNeese State led the Southland Conference in the number of student-athletes named to the Commissioner's Honor Roll.
In addition, McClelland guided the resurgence in APR success in Lake Charles. The number of athletic programs boasting the required APR score of 925 went from four in his first year to all 16 in his final year. The community service hours performed by the MSU student-athletes also tripled to more than 3,000 during his tenure.
"Tommy has a great knowledge of college athletics and excels at helping his student-athletes balance and succeed in their commitments to academics and athletics," said Warde Manuel, athletics director at the University of Connecticut. "Tommy has also proven his ability to work effectively with coaches and administrators to help his programs be successful."
McClelland earned his bachelor's degree from Northwestern State in 2004 and completed his master's degree in sports administration in 2005. He walked on with the Demons football team and eventually earned a scholarship; he also competed in the javelin for the NSU track and field team.
The native of Basile, Louisiana served as a graduate assistant at Northwestern State in athletics and also worked at the Southland Conference office as an administrative intern, assisting with championship events.
McClelland is also a 2012 graduate of the Executive Program of the Sports Management Institute and attended instruction at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School and the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.
McClelland is married to the former Jessica Stokes of Garrison, Texas. They have two sons, Lawson (6) and Grayson (5).
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