Accomplished DI administrator will elevate quality and impact of CSU Athletics
Cleveland State University has announced the appointment of Michael Thomas as its new athletic director. He will manage operations and oversight of CSU’s 17 Division I sports while promoting athletic and academic excellence for the university’s student athletes. Thomas replaces John Parry who announced his retirement late last year.
“Michael Thomas has a tremendous record of achievement as an athletics administrator, developing winning teams, promoting student success, enhancing fundraising and driving overall growth for every program he has been involved with,” says CSU President Ronald M. Berkman. ”We are very pleased that he will be joining the CSU team and I look forward to working with him to build on the athletic and academic achievements of our student athletes.
“I am honored to be selected for this position and look forward to working with the President, the tremendous coaching staff and the entire CSU family to ensure that the Vikings continue to win both on the field and in the classroom,” Thomas adds.
Previously, Thomas served as athletic director at the University of Illinois from 2011 to 2015, where he oversaw athletics teams that won a national championship, claimed 4 Big Ten titles in one year, earned numerous top ten rankings and made multiple Bowl and NCAA tournament appearances. He also raised $165 million in donations over four years, doubling the previous five-year average and achieving the highest annual total in school history. In addition, Thomas launched and completed a $170 million arena renovation of the State Farm Center and negotiated multi-year rights deals with Nike and Learfield Sports.
Prior to this position, Thomas was the athletic director at the University of Cincinnati, where he transitioned the program into the Big East Conference and Bowl Championship Series competition. During his tenure from 2005 to 2011, UC reached two BCS Bowls in football and returned to the NCAA tournament in basketball, while overall student GPA rose to above 3.0.
Thomas also served as athletic director of the University of Akron from 2000 to 2005. During that time the Zips won their first Mid-American Conference Championship in football and rose to 2nd place in both academic and athletic performance in the annual MAC standings for the Director’s Cup. Over his career, Thomas has also served as a member of the Big Ten Legislative Review Committee, the United States Tennis Association Athletic Director Advisory Committee and the NCAA Division I Championship/Sports Management Cabinet.
Thomas holds a master’s in physical education from Western Illinois University and a bachelor’s in business administration from Colorado State University. He will start at CSU on March 1.