EDINBURG — The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Monday that Chris King, who has been the director of athletics since Oct. 1, 2009, has accepted the vice president and director of athletics position at his alma mater, Robert Morris University, from which he graduated in 1994.
King’s final day at UTRGV will be determined in the near future. Rick Anderson, UTRGV executive vice president for finance & administration, will serve as interim athletics director. A national search for King’s replacement is beginning immediately.
“I want to thank UTRGV and the Rio Grande Valley for being supportive and welcoming over the last decade. My favorite part of being in the RGV is the people and the familial atmosphere of the region,” King said. “I also want to thank (UTRGV President) Dr. (Guy) Bailey, our staff, coaches, student-athletes, alumni, boosters and the community at-large. Together we helped to raise the bar for the student-athlete experience while preparing our student-athletes for excellence in life, and I have no doubt that the elevation of UTRGV athletics, the university and the region will continue for many years to come.”
During his time at UTRGV, King’s proactive style and leadership has helped the department reach new heights and lay a solid foundation for future prosperity. This includes the unveiling of a strategic plan for 2017-21, with the goals of improving facilities, finances and fundraising, promoting a culture of integrity, driving for competitive excellence, investing in the community through branding and engagement in alignment with the university mission, vision, core priorities and strategic direction, and ensuring student-athlete success.
The 2018 NACDA Under Armour Division I-AAA Athletic Director of the Year, King has made UTRGV athletics’ goal to elevate the standard of Division I athletics and proudly represent the university in competition, the classroom and the community.
The results are evident, as UTRGV ranks second in the Western Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Cup standings. The volleyball and women’s tennis teams won WAC Tournament championships and advanced to their first NCAA Tournaments in 2016, and then won WAC championships in 2018.
The men’s basketball team has made two straight postseason appearances, including a first-round win this year, and the women’s basketball team has reached the postseason in four of the past five years.
“We owe Chris a tremendous debt of gratitude for everything he has done for UTRGV,” UTRGV President Guy Bailey said. “Under his leadership, UTRGV has evolved into one of the top athletic departments — both academically and competitively — in the Western Athletic Conference. Chris and his family will truly be missed by the UTRGV and Rio Grande Valley communities, and we wish them nothing but the best.”
Since joining the WAC in the fall of 2013, UTRGV has won four team and 32 individual WAC championships.
In the classroom, UTRGV student-athletes combine for a 3.16 grade-point average, with a record 166 student-athletes earning at least a 3.0 GPA this past fall. Student-athletes continue to maintain higher GPAs and graduation rates than their peers in the general student body. The student-athlete graduation success rate has jumped from 54 to 78 percent during the past nine years.
UTRGV athletics has undergone a considerable transformation in facilities and revenue generation the past nine years.
In 2017-18, UTRGV upgraded the lighting in and around the fieldhouse to LEDs and installed a new sound system. UTRGV also built a new training room, a new concession stand, a new equipment room and a new media room, and renovated the locker room hallways.
The next phase of upgrades for the fieldhouse, which are scheduled to be completed this summer, include the refinishing of Sam Williams Court, renovations to the home, visiting and officials’ locker rooms, and the installation of new entrance doors.
King and university officials secured the donation of the $6.5 million baseball stadium from the City of Edinburg to the university in October 2014. Since then, the stadium has undergone numerous upgrades, including the creation of a new entrance known as the Al and Joann Ogletree Plaza following a successful capital campaign.
The stadium also received a new irrigation system, new dugout fencing, new outfield walls, new padding behind home plate, a fresh coat of paint and a new video board and scoreboard, made possible by a six-figure gift that King secured from Coca-Cola Refreshments.
King oversaw the construction of the UTRGV Soccer and Track & Field Complex, which has now played host to five seasons of competition, including the 2017 WAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
In the spring of 2015, King completed a capital project for the new strength and conditioning facility, which the department moved into in 2013-14, to acquire new speed and strength equipment, free weight and aerobic/cardio equipment, and new power racks, platforms, benches and dumbbells.
King secured a $250,000 gift from Coca-Cola Refreshments for the installation of what was then the largest indoor video board in the Rio Grande Valley. This Toshiba videoboard has served to enhance the in-game experience for fans at all volleyball and basketball games.
He also oversaw renovations the Orville Cox Tennis Center with six resurfaced courts, new fences, new windscreens, new walkways and a new entrance.
In the summer of 2017, UTRGV athletics secured a $100,000 grant from the NCAA Accelerating Academic Success Program Committee to make immediate improvements to the Victory Center with the purpose of directly influencing student-athletes’ progress toward degree and academic progress rate requirements. This injection of funds provided upgrades for facility renovations, additional technology and professional development efforts. During the past six years, UTRGV athletics has received more than $300,000 in grants from this NCAA program.
The Rio Grande Valley community has generously given back to UTRGV athletics during King’s tenure. Since the start of the 2016 fiscal year, King and the fundraising and external sales staff have achieved increases in fundraising of 196 percent, ticket sales of 87 percent, and corporate sponsorship revenue of 73 percent. King has secured numerous six- and seven-figure gifts for capital projects, planned giving and endowed scholarships.
UTRGV athletics also has been active in the community, completing the 15th-highest total of community service hours in NCAA Division I and 20th-highest overall in the NCAA Team Works Competition for NCAA DI, DII, and DIII athletic departments and student-athletes in 2015-16, UTRGV athletics set an all-time record in service and volunteering, outreach and engagement, campus engagement, and networking hours of service in 2017-18.
King’s accomplishments led to his selection as the current third vice president of the NACDA DI-AAA Athletic Director Association and the chair of the NACDA DI-AAA Athletic Director Association Mentoring Committee. King served as a member of the NCAA Division I Nominating Committee from 2016-18 and the former NCAA Division I Legislative Council. King also has held multiple leadership positions with the WAC, serving as the WAC council chair, the strategic plan chair and the men’s basketball chair.
“I will always look back on my time at UTRGV with fondness,” King said. “I look forward to continuing to follow the progress of UTRGV Athletics with much interest. UTRGV athletics will always have a warm place in my heart, and I will root for its continued and increasing success in competition, the classroom and the community.”