Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Kevin M. White was named Duke University’s vice president and director of athletics on May 31, 2008. He also serves as an adjunct professor of business administration at the university.
White, 61, joined the Duke family after leading Notre Dame’s athletics program to success both on the playing fields and in the classroom from 2000-08. He also has held a number of prominent national leadership roles within intercollegiate athletics, including his service in 2006-07 as president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and in 2005-06 as president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association.
Guided by the Strategic Plan that was approved by Duke’s Board of Trustees in April of 2008, White made an immediate impact on Duke Athletics. In addition to leading the department to unprecedented success in competition, he reshaped the organization into a more efficient and modern department; strengthened ties to both campus and community constituents though consistent outreach efforts; successfully oversaw Duke’s fundraising efforts during an economic downturn; completed partnerships with major corporate entities to enhance revenue streams; commissioned a master facilities plan to position Duke well into the 21st Century; and emphasized a stronger commitment to the university’s intramural, club and recreational sports programs.
Since White’s arrival, Duke has captured three NCAA Championships – women’s tennis in 2009, men’s basketball in 2010 and men’s lacrosse in 2010 – and 12 ACC titles (three in 2012). On the strength of 14 teams participating in NCAA Championship competition and robust finishes in several sports, Duke ranked 16th in the 2012 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, which determine an institution’s all-around strength in intercollegiate athletics. The 16th-place showing marked the ninth consecutive year that Duke has ended among the nation’s top 20 programs. In 2011, Duke placed fifth, matching the school’s best finish in the rankings and its 1171.50 points earned were the most in program history. In White’s four years at Duke, the Blue Devils placed 17th (2009), 10th (2010), fifth (2011) and 16th (2012) in the Directors’ Cup standings.
Thirty-five Blue Devil teams ranked among the nation’s top 10 teams during the past four seasons with six – men’s basketball (2009, 2010, 2011), men’s lacrosse (2010) and women’s tennis (2009, 2010) – reaching No. 1. In all, 56 Duke teams advanced to NCAA postseason competition the last four seasons.
Individually, 126 student-athletes earned All-America, 218 All-ACC and 136 All-Region or District honors the past four years. During White’s tenure, Duke boasts nine NCAA individual champions in Curtis Beach (indoor track and field heptathlon in 2012), Juliet Bottorff (outdoor track and field 10k in 2011), Mallory Cecil (women’s tennis in 2009), Abby Johnston (three-meter diving in 2011), Nick McCrory (platform diving in 2010 and 2011), and Becca Ward (women’s fencing, saber in 2009, 2011 and 2012). In 2012, Duke celebrated two individual NCAA and 10 individual ACC titles.
Academically, Duke teams continued strong performances under White. In the 2012 spring semester, 25 of 26 Blue Devil varsity teams earned grade point averages of 3.0 or better – the exact amount that achieved the same during the fall of 2011.
In two key elements in tracking a department’s academic success, Duke ranked among the nation’s best again. Duke posted a 97% Graduation Success Rate (GSR) and 14 teams achieved a 100% GSR. Thirteen Blue Devil teams were ranked in the top 10% of their respective sports in the most recent Academic Performance Rate (APR) Report, including the men’s basketball and football teams. In the 2012 report, Duke (989) ranked second among all FBS schools, behind only Northwestern (995), and seventh among all Division I – FBS and FCS – programs.
Individually in 2012, seniors Sophia Dunworth (women’s volleyball) and Becca Ward (women’s fencing) received prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. Eight Duke student-athletes were selected CoSIDA Academic All-America, while 26 others received National Scholar-Athlete or Scholar All-America accolades. In White’s four-year tenure, former women’s tennis player Parker Goyer won a Rhodes Scholarship (2009), while track athlete Sally Liu (2009) and Allie Speidel (2011) earned Marshall Scholarships.
Under White, Duke has continued its focus on outreach to the local community. Modeling the NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills program’s commitment to service, learning projects and outreach, approximately 500 Duke student-athletes across all sports participated in a combined effort of more than 2,000 community service hours.
White’s commitment to the overall mission of the university remains clear. In May 2011, Duke Athletics announced that a portion of ticket sales from Blue Devil regular season home sporting events will be directed to the Duke University Libraries. Per White’s vision, the Duke Athletics Library Fund will generate significant unrestricted revenue for the Duke University Libraries to support teaching and research across the institution.
In 2011-12, several facility projects were completed, impacting many of Duke’s 26 varsity sports. The Pascal Fieldhouse, an 80,000 square-foot multi-purpose facility that houses a 120-yard playing surface for the football program and other on-campus recreational activities, was completed and dedicated. The reconstruction of Williams Field, home to the Duke field hockey team, was also completed, as were minor renovations to the golf course. Major upgrades of soccer practice fields also began in 2012.
White, who holds a Ph.D. in education, has taught graduate-level classes since 1982 and currently teaches a sports business course in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business as part of Duke’s MBA program.
In August 2003, SI.com (the Sports Illustrated web site) listed White, then at Notre Dame, third in its rankings of the most powerful people in college football. In January 2004, The Sporting News listed him in its Power 100 as third among five names in the “front office” category (and the lone college athletics director among the 100).
White previously served on numerous NCAA committees, including being an ex-officio member of the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance and a member of its Penalty and Rewards subcommittee. For several years, he was a representative with the football Bowl Championship Series. Additionally, White was part of the NCAA Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) that dealt with academics, fiscal reform and student-athlete well-being. Currently, he is the secretary of NCAA Football, a non-profit corporation that acts as the “collective voice to promote college football,” and serves on the Black Coaches and Administrators Board of Directors.
Given his background and success, it is not surprising that 21 current or former directors of athletics were mentored by White. That impressive list includes Jim Sterk of Washington State and San Diego State, Tom Boeh of Ohio University and Fresno State, Ian McCaw of Northeastern, Massachusetts and Baylor, Bruce Van De Velde of Utah State, Iowa State and Louisiana Tech, Herman Frazier previously of Alabama-Birmingham and Hawaii, Rudy Keeling formerly of Emerson and now commissioner of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), Scott Devine of St. Mary's College (Md.), Tom Collins formerly of Ball State, Tim Van Alstine of Western Illinois, Mark Wilson of Tennessee Tech, Bubba Cunningham of Ball State, Tulsa and North Carolina, Sandy Barbour (who followed him at Tulane) of California-Berkeley, Jim Phillips of Northern Illinois and Northwestern, Bernard Muir of Georgetown, Delaware and Stanford, Sandy Hatfield Clubb of Drake, Vic Cegles of Long Beach State, Norwood Teague of Virginia Commonwealth and Minnesota, Bob Bierie previously of Loras College, Greg Capell previously of Loras College, Boo Corrigan of Army, and Bill Scholl of Ball State.
Prior to joining Notre Dame in 2000, White served as athletic director at Arizona State University, Tulane University, the University of Maine and Loras College in Iowa, where he originated the National Catholic Basketball Tournament.
Before becoming an administrator, White served as head track and field coach at Southeast Missouri State (1981-82) and assistant cross country and track and field coach at Central Michigan (1976-80). He began his coaching career at Gulf High School in New Port Richey, Fla., coaching cross country and track and assisting in football and wrestling.
White earned his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University in 1983 with an emphasis on higher education administration. In 1985, he completed postdoctoral work at Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management. He earned his master’s degree in athletics administration from Central Michigan University in 1976 and his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1972 from St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., where he also competed as a sprinter.
White and his wife, Jane, a former college track and field coach, have five children and nine grandchildren.