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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI names UConn deputy athletics director to run Rhode Island athletics

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Cumberland's Thomas McElroy is former top official in The Big East

KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 2, 2004 -- Thomas P. McElroy, the deputy director of athletics at the University of Connecticut, has been named to the post of director of athletics at the University of Rhode Island, it was announced today by President Robert L. Carothers.

A resident of Cumberland, McElroy becomes URIís 10th director of athletics. URI has awarded McElroy a 5-year contract that will pay him a base salary of $150,000 per year. His contract takes effect July 1.

At URI, heíll oversee an athletics operation that has 22 intercollegiate sports and a recreational services program, which includes 14 club sports and intramurals. The Department of Athletics at URI has a budget of about $14.5 million and serves about 500 intercollegiate student-athletes. He will play critical roles in budgeting, fund-raising and marketing for athletics.

As deputy director at UConn since August 2001, McElroy managed the schoolís transition to NCAA Division 1-A football, which also included construction and operations of a $91 million, 40,000-seat football stadium. He has also directed ticket marketing/seat licensing, scheduling and television production for football.

In addition, he has had administrative policy and decision-making responsibilities for the national champion UConn menís and womenís basketball teams.

He brings to Rhode Island 20 years of administrative experience with the Big East Conference, including policy decision-making, daily management with member institutions, television negotiations, scheduling and production, bowl administration, communication programs and championship management, including arena relations.

"Itís an exciting day at URI today as we bring on board an individual with a lengthy record of excellence in the world of intercollegiate athletics," Carothers said. "Tom brings to Rhode Island a wealth of experience from his work with our neighbors at UConn, including oversight of the two best college basketball programs in the land. But Tomís hiring means much more to URI.

He has a commitment to outstanding academic performance by student-athletes and he clearly is able to connect with alumni and friends to make them feel a part of something special."

In mid-January, Carothers appointed Dennis Nixon, associate dean of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, as chair of a committee to conduct a national search. The committee reviewed 48 applications for the job, and chose five finalists for campus visits.

"We had an extremely strong field of finalists, and now in Tom McElroy, I am pleased to say we have someone who is perfectly poised to take over this position," Nixon said.

McElroy said being a resident of the state, he has followed closely the fortunes of URI and its athletics program. "We have much to be proud of here at URI, including the outstanding record of our various teams, both on the field and off," McElroy said. "Rhode Island has always been among the top schools in capturing Atlantic 10 conference championships, and have consistently strong representation on conference all-academic teams. This is a great opportunity at a great university, and I look forward to making the athletics program even stronger."

At UConn, McElroy was part of an athletics operation that saw 255 student-athletes earn a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and 14 earn a perfect 4.0 in the spring or fall semesters of 2003. He played the critical role in boosting football attendance in the new stadium to 37,059 in 2003 (the first year in the new stadium), the largest increase in the nation. Corporate sponsorship in 2003 totaled a record $6.4 million, nearly doubling the total of the prevision year. In addition, UConn posted record season ticket sales for menís and womenís basketball in 2003-2004.

Prior to his work at UConn, McElroy worked at the Big East from 1981 to 2001, starting as director of communications and rising to the post of senior associate commissioner in 1993. In his associate commissionerís role, he supervised and coordinated basketball and football administration, including scheduling, television, bowls and game management, championships, finances and public relations/marketing. He managed television agreements with CBS Sports, ESPN and ESPN Regional Television.

In 1993, he won an Emmy Award in the New England region for a live sports series--Big East Football Game of the Week. He has been nominated five other times for Emmy awards.

Before working at the Big East, McElroy held a variety of positions at St. Bonaventure University from 1974 to 1981, including director of public relations and sports information, director of public relations and coordinator of alumni services.