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Sources: Rice targeting McClelland to be new AD

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Rice University is targeting Vanderbilt deputy athletic director Tommy McClelland to be the school’s next athletic director, sources told ESPN.

The deal is expected to be finalized in the upcoming days, sources said.

McClelland would join Rice from Vanderbilt with significant experience helping fundraise and build facilities at a high-end academic school and with nearly 13 years of experience as a Division I athletic director. Rice is seeking to be more competitive athletically under new president Reginald DesRoches, who previously served as the faculty athletics representative at Georgia Tech.

McClelland will take over for former athletic director Joe Karlgaard, who left last month for the private sector.

Part of the attraction of McClelland to Rice officials came from his fundraising and oversight of the nearly $700 million in new facilities being constructed at Vanderbilt. As the deputy athletic director overseeing external affairs and revenue generation, McClelland played a big role in fundraising and planning the projects, which were spearheaded by athletic director Candice Storey Lee.

With Rice entering the American Athletic Conference this season, the school is aiming for its athletic department to better fit its high-end academic image. Much of that will start with tapping into Rice’s strong alumni base with fundraising, a similar challenge that McClelland faced at Vanderbilt.

Prior to Vanderbilt, McClelland served as the athletic director at Louisiana Tech from 2013 to 2020 and was viewed as one of the bright young athletic directors in the country. Louisiana Tech won six straight bowl games during his time there.

Prior to that, he had been the athletic director at McNeese State, a role he took over on an interim basis at age 25 in 2008 and was elevated to the role on a permanent basis a year later. Over his time as a head athletic director, McClelland helped mentor two prominent athletic directors, FAU’s Brian White and Stephen F. Austin’s Ryan Ivey.



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