About Duke University

Duke’s shared values — respect, trust, inclusion, discovery, and excellence—are the foundation of the university’s culture. They also guide and inform the strategic direction of the institution, as Duke seeks to adapt to and shape the course of a changing world.

Since its founding as a university in 1924, Duke University has been dedicated to a liberal and broad-based education at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels and the ethical pursuit of knowledge that advances humankind. Today, Duke is universally regarded as one of the leading research universities and academic medical centers in the world. Duke offers a distinctive educational identity that integrates undergraduate teaching with a collaborative research culture, with fifteen associated Nobel Laureates and fifty-two Rhodes Scholars; it fosters a diverse, inclusive and exceptionally talented campus community, boasting a vibrant arts culture and an internationally-renowned athletics program; it is also home to a health system that serves as a vital hub for the region and is a leading center of innovation in research and health-care delivery.

As the university prepares to celebrate its centennial, the Vice President and Director of Athletics will be instrumental to fulfilling Duke’s mission of providing “real leadership in the educational world.”

About Duke University Athletics

Duke’s intercollegiate athletics program is dedicated to developing true scholar-athletes. As a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), its teams regularly compete for top conference and national honors; many of the 27 varsity teams have national reputations and followings. More than 700 men and women participate on varsity teams. Duke has been an active and aggressive supporter of Title IX and is proud of the growth and performance of women athletes and teams under Title IX.

Duke Athletics is distinctive in its firm commitment to the highest academic achievement alongside top-tier competitive excellence. In the 2019-20 academic year, 24 of 27 Blue Devil varsity teams earned grade point averages of 3.0 or better during the fall and spring semesters, and Duke established a new league record with 572 ACC Honor Roll selections. Duke student-athletes have won Rhodes, Marshall and Fulbright scholarships.  Additionally, Duke student-athletes have won 17 team and 24 individual NCAA titles, while Duke’s athletes and coaches have had 64 appearances in the Olympics. All of this has been accomplished while averaging a graduation rate better than 90 percent, on par with the Duke student body as a whole, and at or near the top of the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate and Academic Performance Rate reports, which measure achievement at all NCAA schools. In a “Power Five” conference noted for its academic excellence, Duke has led the conference in the number of students named to the ACC Honor Roll in 32 of the last 33 years.

Duke Athletics also provides the campus community with an expansive program of recreation and physical education. Each year, more than 10,000 students (undergraduate, graduate, and professional) participate in academic classes, formal, structured activities for aquatics, intramurals, fitness services, outdoor adventures and sport clubs. Numerous lecture and activity courses (elective courses in the Duke curriculum) are offered through the Recreation and Physical Education Department.

Philanthropy plays a vitally important role in funding Division I college and university athletics programs, including at Duke, where approximately 30% of the annual athletics budget is derived from philanthropic support. In the ACC, Duke finishes in the “Top 3” in philanthropy annually, averaging over $50M per year, and annual philanthropic support has almost tripled since 2010. Approximately 30% of the annual scholarship costs are currently supported by the Athletics endowment, valued on June 30, 2020 at $174M.

In recent years, Duke has improved much of its intercollegiate athletics infrastructure, renovating existing and constructing new facilities to serve student-athletes, including major improvements to Wallace Wade Stadium and Cameron Indoor Stadium, as well as constructing the new Scott Family Athletics Performance Center that serves Duke’s Olympic sports programs. During the same period, Duke has made significant investments in new student recreational buildings on East and West Campuses to meet student interest in a wide range of athletic and recreational activities.

Position Summary

The Vice President and Director of Athletics is responsible for overall management of the department and oversees budgets, personnel, planning, fundraising, marketing, media contract negotiations, and sports facilities. The Vice President and Director of Athletics must also ensure full compliance with University, ACC, and NCAA rules and regulations governing intercollegiate athletics and all applicable State rules and laws. The Vice President and Director of Athletics reports to the President of the University.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Strengthen all sports to be competitive at the championship level while ensuring an exceptional academic and overall experience for each student-athlete.
  • Maintain and further develop a vibrant and expansive program of recreation and physical education activities for all students.
  • Ensure that the department operates in a manner that represents Duke’s longstanding commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and shared values - respect, trust, inclusion, discovery, and excellence - for student-athletes, coaches, and staff.
  • Support the University’s educational philosophy and the Department of Athletics as a loyal, energetic, and highly visible University representative.
  • Recruit, mentor, support, and supervise a diverse pool of strong, ethical, and talented coaches to foster success.
  • Organize and supervise the entire Athletics staff and delegate specific responsibilities to ensure the efficient and productive operation of all administrative and operational business functions of the department.
  • Ensure the department operates within the mission of the University and in compliance with NCAA, Conference, and University rules and guidelines.
  • Provide strategic leadership toward goals related to competitiveness, student academic achievement, student-athlete experience, compliance, financial management, and event attendance that reflect the mission and values of the University as a whole.
  • Commensurate with the University’s goals and standards and Title IX and NCAA regulations, supervise the recruitment of quality student-athletes who can successfully compete at the Division I level.
  • As authorized by the President, participate actively in professional organizations through attendance at conferences, clinics, and conventions as needed for an understanding of current developments within all areas of responsibility.
  • Develop and administer all athletic budgets, and develop and maintain all athletic facilities, in close coordination with the Executive Vice President.
  • Work in coordination with the Vice President for Alumni Engagement and Development, President, and other individuals to develop fundraising strategies with team goals and oversee a fundraising plan for Athletics to achieve annual goals.
  • Increase attendance at all sports and generate overall enthusiasm and excitement for Athletics across campus (among students, faculty and staff) and in the community (including donors and alumni).
  • ​Collaborate with other units on campus, including, but not limited to, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Public Affairs and Government Relations, Institutional Equity, Durham and Community Affairs, Duke Health, and General Counsel on various university/athletic related matters to enhance relationships between Athletics and other departments on campus.
  • Participate in Board of Trustees meetings, with significant exposure to trustees and prominent donors.
  • Demonstrate core competencies in the areas of leadership and vision, the development of a strategy to advance that vision, and the management and oversight of a complex organization that is operationally efficient and financially sound.
  • Participate in planning, communication, and collaboration with the President as a member of the President’s Cabinet and Senior Leadership Team to ensure alignment between the goals of the Athletic Department with the University’s mission and goals.
  • Develop priorities for construction and capital improvement projects for athletics and recreation, and participate in plans for the design and funding of these projects.
  • Develop plans to enhance the revenue-generating capacity of the Athletics Department through ticket sales, facilities rentals, marketing and other strategies.
  • Ensure that coaches follow the principles and policies of the Undergraduate Admissions Office and other appropriate admissions offices in the recruitment and admission of student-athletes.
  • Perform related departmental duties as required.


Duke seeks the most outstanding candidates nationally. All candidates will possess steadfast commitment to the values of the university: unimpeachable integrity and ethical compass; resilience; and demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, candidates will bring many of the following professional qualifications, skills, experience, and personal qualities:

  • Prior leadership and management success in a highly competitive environment, including a demonstrated ability to identify, manage and solve problems as well as capitalize on opportunities as they arise.
  • Reputation as a strategic leader of integrity and vision who is firm, yet flexible, trusted, and respected.
  • Commitment to Duke’s distinctive mission of excellence in intercollegiate athletics as part of a larger commitment to preeminence in education and research.
  • Understanding of, and support for, a broad range of men’s and women’s club and intramural sports and recreational and physical education programs.
  • Appreciation of the importance of developing student-athletes who are both outstanding performers and individuals of character.
  • Proven ability to select, recruit, motivate, inspire, mentor, and retain high performing individuals, with an emphasis on racial and gender equity and advocacy for minority and underrepresented groups (e.g., coaches and senior staff).
  • A team player with outstanding collaboration skills; strong interpersonal skills and diplomacy; superb listening and influencing skills; the ability to cultivate and sustain trust and credibility with colleagues, coaches, staff, and student-athletes and build unity around difficult issues; an active listener, facilitator, convener, mediator, and advocate.
  • A highly visible, University citizen able to work collaboratively with colleagues and units across the campus to ensure that Duke’s athletics program, including but not limited to club and intramural sports and recreational and physical education programs, supports the full intellectual growth, social development, and health and wellbeing of all Duke students.
  • Understanding of the importance of the many constituencies of the Duke Department of Athletics – students, faculty, administration, alumni, NCAA, ACC, and the public.
  • Demonstrated success in building a highly functional organization composed of individuals of different backgrounds, genders, and races.
  • Possess high political acumen with the ability to navigate and manage the evolving landscape of collegiate athletics and the role it plays within higher education to include, but not limited to: new legislation, the monetization of sports, regulatory industries, state and federal mandates, digital media streaming and T.V. revenue, and the Duke Athletics fanbase – locally, nationally, and internationally. 
  • Record of success in fundraising and facilities development.
  • Experience with Division I athletics is strongly preferred.
  • Willingness to make a commitment to the position for a substantial period of time.
  • Advanced degree required.

Application Process

Duke University invites nominations and applications or expressions of interest to be submitted to the search firm assisting the University.  Applications must include a cover letter, resume, and list of references. For full consideration, application materials should be submitted to Parker Executive Search’s website by April 21, 2021. Confidential review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment is made.

For additional information, please contact:

Daniel Parker, Vice President and Managing Director
DeLaina Jordan, Associate
Parker Executive Search
danielparker@parkersearch.com | djordan@parkersearch.com
770-804-1996 x119

Duke University prohibits discrimination and harassment, and provides equal employment opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, sex or age. Duke is committed to recruiting, hiring, and promoting qualified minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and veterans.

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