Mark Hollis has been named SportsBusiness Journal’s 2012 Athletic Director of the Year, the athletics department announced on Wednesday.
Hollis picks up the honor over Temple’s Bill Bradshaw, Michigan’s Dave Brandon, Baylor’s Ian McCaw and Arkansas’ Jeff Long. The win comes largely after a year where the 49-year old Hollis scheduled the men’s basketball team in the first Carrier Classic — a game aboard the USS Carl Vinson naval ship in San Diego.
“It’s very humbling to receive an honor like this,” Hollis said in a statement released by the athletics department. “Individual awards are difficult to accept in higher education and athletics; however, they do recognize the innovation and teamwork necessary to achieve success. I value working with people at Michigan State University, the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA in providing educational opportunities for our student-athletes and engagement through sports for our alumni and supporters.
“I respect and share a unique bond with athletic directors across the nation. Within our programs, we each have our individual constraints and opportunities. We all serve a diverse and broad range of constituents. Most importantly, we all strive to provide opportunities for young men and women to improve themselves everyday – academically, athletically and socially.
During his time at MSU, Hollis has innovated large events for the department, starting with Cold War hockey game between MSU and Michigan in 2001, which since has spawned the phenomena of outdoor hockey events such as the NHL’s Winter Classic. In addition, Hollis coined the “BasketBowl,” which established a then-world record crowd of 78,129 who witnessed the MSU and Kentucky basketball game at Ford Field in Detroit.
The 2011-12 year saw MSU win three Big Ten championships (women’s cross country, men’s basketball and women’s golf).
“Mark Hollis is a true visionary and innovative leader, and we take pride in this well deserved recognition for Mark and for Team MSU,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said in a statement to athletics department. “He’s thoroughly engaged in his profession, combining a deep appreciation of the role of intercollegiate athletics in higher education with a flair for visualizing fresh ways to present it.”