Mike Marlow, WSU's Deputy Athletic Director, was hoping to be considered for the WSU athletic director position, but his departure for NAU guarantees WSU will make an external hire.
Mike Marlow, Washington State’s Deputy Athletic Director, has left WSU to become the Vice-President of Intercollegiate Athletics at Northern Arizona University.
NAU President Rita Cheng announced Marlow’s hire Wednesday morning, at a news conference in Flagstaff, Ariz.
“Mike has an extensive resume of success,” Cheng said, adding that Marlow impressed her with his “commitment to the student-athlete experience” and “his collaborative approach to working with campus groups and the community.”
This is Marlow’s first athletic director job. He replaces Lisa Campos, who left NAU in November after five years to become the athletic director at the University of Texas-San Antonio.
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Cheng said Marlow will start work at NAU in mid-January, but that his family –wife, Barbara, and children Courtney, Haley and Jeffrey – will remain in Pullman until the spring so the kids can finish out the academic year.
Marlow, a 1990 graduate of WSU, was known as Moos’ right-hand man, and was instrumental in helping to recruit football coach Mike Leach to WSU. Marlow and Leach maintained a good relationship throughout their tenure at WSU.
In a statement to ESPN on Wednesday, Leach gave a ringing endorsement of Marlow.
“Mike Marlow will make an outstanding athletics director and is a personal friend who I have tremendous trust in and a great deal of respect for,” Leach said. “Any time that I am thinking something through, he is a great sounding board and provides a lot of wisdom.
“I think he will make a fantastic athletics director, and he is someone I would very much look forward to working with again. I wish Mike the very best and will continue to call him and get his thoughts on a variety of subjects as I need a sharp mind.”
Marlow worked under Moos at Oregon, where he finished a 12-year stint as senior associate athletic director for external operations. Moos hired Marlow at WSU in the spring of 2010. In Marlow’s seven years at WSU, he oversaw the Cougar Athletic Fund, marketing, ticket operations and communications, was the athletic department’s liaison to IMG College and the Pac-12 Network, and oversaw football, men’s basketball and baseball.
Upon Moos’ departure for Nebraska in October, Marlow had hoped to be considered for the WSU athletic director position. His departure to become the athletic director at NAU indicates that he saw the writing on the wall.
A source close to the situation said Marlow was not seriously considered for the WSU athletic director position despite having Leach’s support and endorsement, because he was perceived as a holdover from the Moos administration.
Marlow indicated during his news conference in Flagstaff on Wednesday that he was not interviewed for the WSU job, saying, “I have not been a person who has looked at a lot of jobs, in fact, yesterday was my first formal interview in nearly a decade.”
“WSU is my alma mater, and I will always cherish my time as a student and employee,” Marlow said. “Our president was very transparent, and I’m gonna be very transparent with you guys. He was looking for an AD that had previously been an AD. And that’s probably the case at the Power Five level maybe 95 percent of the time.”
NAU is a Division I school in with an FCS football team that competes in the Big Sky Conference.
Moos was the first person Marlow thanked in his introductory speech at NAU, saying that he’d been “blessed to have a lot of mentors and professional advocates” and that Moos was “at the very top of that list.” Marlow also thanked Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke, and former Oregon athletic director Pat Kilkenny for supporting him over the years.
So, Marlow was asked, what drew him to the NAU job?
“Really, two things,” Marlow said. “Community and commitment. … Community is extremely important to me and my family, and commitment from the athletic department and campus to be in alignment, and commitment for a greater vision to go further than we are right now.”