David Benedict, who currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the athletics department at Auburn University, has been named the new Director of Athletics at the University of Connecticut. Benedict is a highly-experienced athletic administrator who served as Deputy Athletic Director at Minnesota (2012-14) and in leadership positions at Virginia Commonwealth (2010-12), Long Beach State (2007-10), and Arizona State (1996-2006).
Benedict brings to UConn a national reputation in athletic administration focused on student-athlete success in competition and academically, long-range strategic planning, donor development and fundraising and sound fiscal management.
"We make this announcement with excitement, pride, and tremendous optimism about the future," said UConn President Susan Herbst. "Today's AD must have the sophistication to manage and closely oversee finance, marketing, media contracts, fundraising and fan engagement, among many other things. And these responsibilities are all secondary to the traditional responsibilities of utmost import: taking care of our student athletes, supporting their academic success, and making sure that our coaches have what they need to compete successfully.
"We sought a leader whose grasp of the national landscape and relentless pursuit of excellence would be second-to-none. I am very happy to say that we found exactly what we were looking for in David Benedict."
"I am very excited to join UConn Nation as its Director of Athletics and am very grateful to President Herbst, Board of Trustees Chairman Larry McHugh and the entire Board of Trustees and Search Committee," said Benedict. "The success of UConn from both an academic and athletic perspective is known around the country. UConn wins national championships and plays in bowl games and I wanted to be part of an elite program like this. I look forward to getting to know all of our coaches, student-athletes and administrators. My family and I can't wait to be part of this special university!"
Benedict directed all the day-to-day operations of the Auburn athletic department, with particular emphasis in operational planning, resource allocation, budget development and strong financial management. He led the department in developing strategic long-range plans for a $120-plus million budget, facilities, staffing and accomplishing strategic goals.
He coordinated a five-year strategic plan for Auburn athletics, which featured initiatives for strategic priorities and goals. Benedict directed a team of staff members and coaches in creating a facility master plan and the initiation of a game-day master plan.
Benedict led a feasibility study to make renovations to Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium that initiated a $150-$180 million project. He negotiated a unique nine-year extension with Under Armour that included both product, cash and $10 million worth of stock. Benedict also is leading a search for a multi-media rights partner that looks to more than double Auburn's current average guarantee.
Benedict provided ongoing support for the administration of the Auburn football program and was the men's basketball sport administrator.
At Minnesota, Benedict held a similar position as he identified areas to increase external support and provided stewardship for sponsors and major donors. He worked with the University of Minnesota Foundation to create the largest athletics campaign in school history. Benedict directed a number of contracts and relationships that helped increase the Gophers' revenue intake.
Benedict was the Executive Associate Athletic Director at VCU during his time there and also served as Interim Athletic Director for several months. At VCU, he increased annual giving, tickets sales and sponsorship revenues each year. While serving as Interim AD, Benedict led the school's transition from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Atlantic 10.
In his role at Long Beach, he administrated all external areas of the department and restructured the entire fundraising process. Benedict was also the baseball sports administrator. He was the Associate Athletic Director for Development at Arizona State and streamlined all areas of external relations.
A native of Tempe, Ariz., Benedict, aged 44, is a 1995 graduate of Southern Utah, where he was a linebacker on the football team. He earned a master's degree from New Mexico Highlands in 1996, where he also was a graduate assistant football coach.
Benedict and his wife, the former Lisa Zeis, have 13-year old twin boys - Jake and Sam. Lisa was a four-time gymnastics All-American and two-time NCAA champion at Arizona State. She is currently a volunteer assistant coach for the Auburn women's gymnastics team, ranked No. 8 in the country.