University of Toledo launches national search for new athletic director

University of Toledo Rockets logo (Jaden Jefferson)

TOLEDO, Ohio — The University of Toledo is launching a national search for the next vice president and director of athletics to replace Mike O’Brien, who is set to retire from the position at the end of his contract on April 30, 2022.

The university is partnering with Collegiate Sports Associates, an executive search firm specializing in intercollegiate athletic hiring for colleges and universities.

The company has helped with several searches in the Mid-American Conference, including the University of Akron, Miami University and Ball State University, as well as national searches for the University of Cincinnati, the University of Georgia and Michigan State University.

“Under Mike O’Brien’s leadership, Rocket Athletics has developed a reputation for excellence in the classroom and on the field,” UToledo President Gregory Postel said. “We must maintain this momentum and build upon our history of success. We are looking for a leader that shares Rocket Nation’s enthusiasm, as well as a commitment to our institutional values including student-centeredness and diversity.”

Associate Vice President of Risk Management and Chief Risk Officer, Douglas Huffner, will chair the university’s search committee. Also serving on the committee will be:

  • Jeff Cole, a UToledo alumn and senior director of corporate communication at Dana Inc.
  • Dr. Dana Hollie, professor of accounting in the UToledo John B. and Lillian E. Neff College of Business and Innovation and faculty athletics representative to the MAC and NCAA
  • Brian Jones, senior associate athletic director of health and wellness
  • Don Mewhort, UToledo alumn and community business leader
  • Collin Palmer, director of undergraduate admission
  • Demond Pryor, director of recreational services;
  • Dr. Robert Steven, senior lecturer in the University of Toledo Department of Biological Sciences and member of Faculty Senate
  • Madeline Vining, UT junior majoring in economics and student-athlete competing in track and field
  • Dr. Thomas Wakefield, director of the Frankel Cardiovascular Center at the University of Michigan and a member of The University of Toledo Foundation Board

“Our committee represents UToledo’s campus community ranging from a student’s perspective to faculty, staff, alumni and donors,” Huffner said. “I am confident our experiences and expertise we bring to the table will help us find the next great leader for the Rocket athletic program, one of the best in the MAC and one of the top mid-major athletic programs in the nation.”

Under O’Brien’s tenure, the Toledo Rockets have won or shared 36 league titles in 9 different sports. In addition, the university has made 11 bowl appearances in football, four NIT appearances in men’s basketball, an NCAA Tournament appearance in women’s basketball in 2017, as well as 8 WNIT appearances, including a WNIT championship crown in 2011. Toledo won the Jacoby Trophy as the MAC’s top women’s athletic program in 2011-12 and 2017-18.

To give provide feedback for the search committee, email



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Jaden Jefferson

Jaden Jefferson

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