|Title:||Director of Athletics|
In eight years as the Director of Athletics at the University of Northern Colorado, Jay Hinrichs has reshaped the historic and tradition-rich profile and advanced the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics into NCAA Division I membership for all 19 sport programs and athletic-support departments while instilling a Championship Culture at Northern Colorado and an eye for the future of the Bears.
Hinrichs was named the Director of Athletics on August 23, 2004. Since his hiring, Hinrichs has directed the NCAA reclassification and certification process to Division I, added the men’s cross country and indoor track and field programs for men and women, while securing membership in the Big Sky Conference and other conference affiliations. He has also led two facility renovation and expansion projects totaling $31 million.
Eye-popping athletic and academic facility upgrades and renovations have been a staple under Hinrichs. Included in a 2005 student-fee funded $16 million facility expansion and renovation project were seating and scoreboard improvements to Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion, the reconstruction of historic Jackson Stadium and the addition of a state-of-the-art Field House for the baseball and women’s soccer programs, the renovation of Butler-Hancock Athletic Center – including new tennis courts, a field house, new lighted synthetic and natural-grass practice and intramural sports fields, the construction of a new indoor climate controlled Practice Center for men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball and a new east side Plaza Concourse and a 2,500 seat expansion for Nottingham Field.
Opened in August 2010, the Butler-Hancock Athletic Center expands and improves the Home of the Bears into one of the best student-athlete facilities in the Big Sky. This $15 million project includes significantly expanded academic areas, including six new classrooms, five new meeting rooms and a new Student-Athlete Academic Success Center, with computer lab and two seminar rooms. Also included in the project is a new and four-times larger strength and conditioning center, with new custom-built strength-training equipment, the new Dan Libera Athletic Training Center, featuring a Hydroworx cold plunge pool and 16 new team rooms. Highlighting the project is the first Northern Colorado Athletics Hall of Fame and Sports Museum.
Hinrichs secured membership in the Big Sky Conference for 14 sport programs in July 2006, while softball joins the league for 2012-13. He followed with affiliate memberships in the America Sky Men’s Golf Conference, Western Athletic Conference for swimming & diving and membership in the Great West Conference for baseball. Bears wrestling secured membership in the Western Wrestling Conference as it formed in 2006.
The athletic exploits of the Northern Colorado student-athletes are small when compared to their academic accomplishments. Northern Colorado has led the Big Sky Conference in graduation rates each of the last four seasons and women’s basketball, volleyball, swimming & diving and the men’s golf teams were honored by their respective coaching organizations for team grade point averages.
In 2011-12, Northern Colorado had 115 student-athletes earn academic all-conference honors in their respective sports. Three student-athletes were also named to the Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District teams with Sari Little (track & field), Mason Puckett (football) and Kirstin Salminen (soccer) all earning honors.
Challenged with growing the Department of Athletics budget to match the new Division I classification, the annual budget and increases in athletic program support has grown to more than nine million dollars. This growth is highlighted by the nearly $3.2 million for athletically related financial aid provided to Bears student-athletes in the 2010-2011 academic year.
Fundraising has also undergone an expansion to include components to Major Gifts, Special Events, sport-specific gifts, endowments, capital gifts to improve and maintain athletic facilities for the demands of tomorrow and the Blue and Gold annual fund.
Head coaching hires and multi-year retention packages include Lyndsey (Benson) Oates, who led the volleyball Bears three-straight Big Sky Championships, B.J. Hill, who led the men’s basketball program to its first-ever NCAA Tournament, Jaime White, who led the women’s basketball program to its first-ever Big Sky Championship and Mark Montgomery, who in his first year at Northern Colorado was named Co-PCSC Coach of the Year in sofotball.
Before coming to Northern Colorado, Hinrichs worked at the University of Kansas and before that served 18 years in three senior-management positions for the Kansas City Royals Baseball Club, including Director of Stadium Operations, Assistant General Manager and Vice President for Ballpark Operations and Development.
Hinrichs has served the community as a board of directors member and Chairman of the Board of the Kansas and Western Missouri affiliate of the National Kidney Foundation and as a Board member of the Kansas City Corporate Challenge. He was on the advisory board of Imaging Solutions Company in Wichita, Kansas, prior to his move to Northern Colorado.
He recently completed his third term on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Weld County and has been appointed to the organization’s Executive Council and was recently named to the NCAA Academic Cabinet.
As if that is not enough, Hinrichs has also worked to host external athletic events and championships on campus at the University of Northern Colorado, such as the Colorado State 1A boys and girls basketball championships, several league basketball and track and field championships and the Colorado State 3A baseball championships.
Hinrichs earned a bachelor’s degree in personnel administration and psychology (1980) and a master’s in business administration (1983) from the University of Kansas.
He is married to the former Julie Miller of Cedar Falls, Iowa, a dialysis nurse in Greeley, and their son Jared is 14 and attends Northridge High School in Greeley.