Mike Thomas has 34 years experience in major university athletic department direction, during which time he hired coaches who have led teams to conference championships and national prominence, achieved historic levels of fundraising, managed capital projects totaling over $400 million, raised student-athlete academic achievements to conference-leading levels, instituted cultures of strict NCAA compliance, negotiated multi-million dollar media, sponsorship and marketing contracts, and revamped staffing and financial systems.
His roles included director of athletics at the University of Illinois, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Akron, and Cleveland State University, as well as serving on executive staff at the University of Virginia and the University of Denver. Over the course of Thomas’ career, he has worked in the Big Ten Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Mid-American Conference and the Horizon League.
Recognized for his administrative acumen by his peers, Thomas has served on the following NCAA committees: Division I Council, Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee, Division I Ethics Coalition, Division I Championship/Sport Management Cabinet, Men’s Basketball Issues Committee, Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet, Division I Academics/Eligibility/Compliance Cabinet, Postseason Football Bowl Licensing Subcommittee, Women’s Basketball Issues Committee and the Women’s Rowing Committee.
Thomas also served on several conference committees, most notably as Chair of both the Horizon League Council and the Basketball Issues Committee; Chair of the Big East Championship and Competition Committee; and, the Big Ten Legislative Review Committee.
Twice during his career, Thomas received the General Robert R. Neyland Outstanding Director of Athletics Award in 2005 (Akron) and 2009 (Cincinnati). He also received the Cincinnati Sports Executive of the Year (2009), the Big East Distinguished Service Award (2011) and the Western Illinois University Alumni Achievement Award (2015).
Thomas, a Colorado native,received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Colorado State University (1983), and his master’s degree in athletic administration from Western Illinois University (1986). He lives in the Charlotte, North Carolina area with his wife, Jeni. They have four adult children – Vince, Joey, Mick and Meredith.