Arizona Board of Regents Approve Contract Extension for Arizona AD Dave Heeke
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Arizona Board of Regents on Thursday approved a two-year contract extension with new terms for University of Arizona Vice President and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke. The extension will add two years to his remaining year, totaling three years, as Heeke’s contract now runs through March 31, 2025.
“For more than five years, Dave Heeke has been a remarkable leader and ambassador for Arizona Athletics and the University of Arizona as a whole,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “He has helped build the framework that has led to the unprecedented success of our student-athletes, both on the field and in the classroom. I look forward to collaborating with Dave and his team on the University of Arizona’s efforts to build upon our culture of excellence in athletics. It is an exciting time to be an Arizona Wildcat.”
Since arriving in Tucson in February 2017, Heeke has delivered a new standard of academic success, along with a comprehensive overhaul of facilities, several years of stellar fundraising efforts and strategic hiring, retention and development of coaches and department staff.
During the last two years, Heeke has led Arizona’s athletics department through a myriad of challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, all while sustaining impressive athletics achievements, maintaining student-athletes’ academic success and increasing external support for the department each year.
“I would like to thank President Robbins and the Arizona Board of Regents for their continued support of the athletics department’s ongoing work of developing academic, athletic and life champions who live the Wildcat Way,” Heeke said. “It is a privilege to serve this historic university and the tremendous community in Southern Arizona. I am proud of the championship excellence that our student-athletes, coaches and staff have achieved, and I believe we will continue to add new chapters to the storied legacy of Arizona Athletics.” At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arizona Athletics quickly established itself as a national leader in testing, tracing and treatment. The athletics department’s cohesive collaboration with University of Arizona campus partners and the Pima County Health Department not only developed comprehensive reentry strategies, but also allowed Arizona student-athletes and staff to be a part of a gold standard testing program that reduced cancellations and postponements of competition. The athletics department successfully completed its strategic and phased approach to fan reentry during the spring and became the first Pac-12 program to announce plans for full capacity for the 2021 season.
In the past year, 14 teams participated in their respective NCAA postseasons. Additionally, men’s golf, men’s basketball and baseball won Pac-12 championships, along with seven individual Pac-12 honorees. The women’s basketball team reached its first-ever Final Four in 2021. UArizona had 32 All-American student-athletes, and 23 current and former Wildcats qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, three of whom medaled.
Fall of 2021 saw Arizona Athletics record-breaking academic success continue as the department posted a 3.157 overall GPA. It was Arizona’s all-time high Fall semester GPA and marked the seventh consecutive year that the department has broken its Fall overall semester GPA. In spring 2021, Arizona student-athletes had the highest overall GPA in a single semester ever at 3.172. In the preceding semester, 91 student-athletes earned a 4.0 GPA. Three student-athletes last year were named Pac-12 Conference Scholar Athletes and approximately 200 student-athletes made the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll.
Heeke has also attracted and retained top coaching talent. Adia Barnes was retained with a new landmark contract after leading her team to the NCAA championship game in 2021. This season, the women’s basketball team earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament and was selected to host first- and second-round games of the NCAA tournament for only the second time in program history and the first time since 1998.
In his first season as head coach of the men’s basketball team, Tommy Lloyd led the squad to the Pac-12 regular season and conference tournament titles and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Lloyd was also named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) National Coach of the Year. In addition, the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) recognized Lloyd with the Henry Iba Award, its top coaching award.
Other coaches who experienced success have also been retained recently, such as Clancy Shields (men’s tennis), Laura Ianello (women’s golf), Jim Anderson (men’s golf), Dave Rubio (volleyball) and John Court (gymnastics). Several new hires from the past year have also enjoyed a great deal of success. Jedd Fisch has brought one of the top-ranked football recruiting classes in the Pac-12 and Caitlin Lowe leads a promising softball team that made the College World Series last year. Baseball coach Chip Hale’s squad is ranked among the top 15 this year and is coming off a College World Series appearance in 2021. Heeke also hired Becca Moros to guide Arizona’s soccer program.
In September 2018, Heeke led a transformative capital investment of $66 million as Arizona Athletics made critical facility enhancements with renovations to Arizona Stadium, Hillenbrand Aquatic Center, Hillenbrand Softball Stadium, McKale Center and the construction of the Cole and Jeannie Davis Sports Center. These construction projects were built around enhancing the student-athlete experience, improving the game day environment and creating dynamic landmarks for the University of Arizona campus. Additional fan enhancements along the west side of Arizona Stadium were made prior to the 2019 season, including the creation of the SkyBox Club premium seating area.
Heeke led the development efforts for some of the biggest fundraising years on record. Arizona Athletics’ fundraising efforts have surpassed its yearly fundraising goals every year since Heeke’s arrival. The high-level success of the Wildcat Club includes nearly $35 million raised in the 2019 fiscal year, which was one of the top three fundraising years in department history. Arizona has raised nearly $100 million in the last three years and is on track this year to have one of its best fundraising years in the history of the department.
The athletics department has also added an assistant athletics director for diversity, inclusion and employee engagement to help lead a newly formed Inclusive Excellence Council that focuses on the importance of diversity and inclusion programming, educational events and hiring processes within athletics.
In September 2019, Arizona Athletics launched a strategic plan, titled “The Wildcat Way.” It is the first official strategic plan in department history and was created after a yearlong comprehensive planning process. The plan has pillars, values and initiatives in alignment with those of the University of Arizona’s strategic plan and focuses on the growth and impact of the athletics program.
Heeke came to Arizona after serving 11 years as the athletics director at Central Michigan University. Previously, he worked at the University of Oregon for 18 years in a variety of key administrative positions in athletics.
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