JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman University President Dr. Randall O'Brien introduced new Vice President for Athletics Matt Pope to the Jefferson City and Carson-Newman communities as well as the media during the latter's introductory press conference Monday afternoon in the Ted Russell building on Carson-Newman's campus.
Pope will officially begin his tenure at Mossy Creek Aug. 6. He takes over for Vice President for Athletics Allen Morgan, who recently announced his retirement.
"We are grateful to name a Vice President for Athletics the caliber of Matthew Pope," O'Brien said. "He has experience all over the country and his references say wonderfully impressive things about him. There are many good things I could say about Matt, but I think it's important that you meet him. I hope you are impressed by him."
Pope has spent the last three years in Cookeville, Tenn. with the Golden Eagles. He brings nearly three decades of experience working in athletics to Carson-Newman.
"The opportunity to lead a department of athletics at a Christian university was very appealing to me." Pope said. "I've known and respected Carson-Newman for some time living in this East Tennessee since 2001. We are well-acquainted with Carson-Newman and we've admired it from a far for some time. It excites me to be a part of this storied program and to lead it."
Pope oversaw $4.3 million dollars in donations to the Tennessee Tech athletic department in his first year. Pope saw departmental giving triple in his time with the Golden Eagles.
Prior to his three-year stint with Tennessee Tech, Pope spent time in Towson, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, UNC Chapel Hill, Western Kentucky and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.
Pope came to Tennessee Tech from Towson University where he served as the Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Finance and Operations.
While at Towson, Pope had direct oversight of successfully balancing a $22 million budget. He also oversaw the departments' ticket operations and Towson Sports Properties multi-media rights. He was also responsible for facilities, game operations equipment management and video services.
While with the Tigers, Pope oversaw administration and execution for a $400,000 Under Armour apparel contract as well as contracts for equipment, game and personnel.
He supervised the construction phases for a $4 million softball complex, a $3.5 million Towson Center renovation and a $100,000 renovation of the strength and conditioning center.
Prior to Towson, Pope worked for almost 14 years at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, starting in 2001 as the Assistant Athletics Director for Administration and Business. In 2002 he was promoted to Associate Athletics Director for Internal Operations, Finance and Marketing and promoted again in 2010 to Senior Associate Athletics Director for Administration and Finance. In his last eight years at UTC, Pope successfully balanced the department's $14 million budget. In 2006, Pope was named interim athletics director upon the retirement of Steve Sloan.
As the Senior Associate Athletics Director at Chattanooga, Pope's primary responsibilities included the oversight and supervision of all departmental fiscal operations. He provided long-range planning and financial forecasting, developed departmental policy, oversaw game and personnel contract executions and provided oversight for the administration of grants-in-aid to student-athletes. He was also the departmental liaison to the UT Board of Trustees as well as other university departments and committees.
He was the primary administrator for eight sports at Chattanooga, the director of game operations, and oversaw the administrative functions of sports medicine, facilities and operations and athletics performance.
During his tenure, he was the tournament site director for the annual NCAA Football Championship Series (FCS) National Championship Game at Finley Stadium from 2001-09. Pope was the tournament manager for the 2010 NCAA Men's Golf Championship at The Honors Course and 2008 NCAA East Regional Men's Golf Championships held at Council Fire. He chaired the Southern Conference Wrestling committee for nine years and was the 2008 and 2012 Southern Conference Tournament Director, hosted in Chattanooga.
Pope is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the National Association of Athletics Development Directors (NAADD).
Pope earned a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education in 1989 and a Master of Arts in Sport Administration in 1994 – both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also a graduate of the Sports Management Institute's Executive Program.
A native of Durham, N.C., Pope and his wife, Claudia, also a North Carolina graduate, have a daughter, Anna, and a son, Tyler.
Carson-Newman assistant athletics director for compliance Eddie Carter will assume the role of interim director of athletics until Pope's arrival in August. Morgan has been approved by the C-N Board of Trustees to transition to Vice President for Athletics Emeritus.
Matt Pope Introductory Press Conference 7-9-18
What They're Saying about Matt Pope
"Matt Pope is made for this moment! I first met Matt in 1996 and he has been a friend and colleague as we both made several stops in college athletics. At each step in his journey, Matt was always seeking to get better, learn and gain more knowledge, so that one day he would become an Athletics Director. I am fired up to see his hard work and dedication to higher education and student-athletes pay off with his appointment at Carson-Newman. I congratulate Dr. O'Brien for a great decision and wish Matt and his family all the best."
~ Ross Bjork, Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics, Ole Miss
"It is easy to see, even early in his career, that Matt was one of the bright, outstanding leaders in our field. He is a first-class person and Carson-Newman is fortunate to have an individual of his caliber leading its athletic department. Soletta and I wish Matt, Claudia and their family nothing but the best."
~ Mike Hamrick, Director of Athletics, Marshall University
"This is a tremendous hire for Carson-Newman. Having worked with Matt at UNC and UTC, I know from experience that he will lead with enthusiasm and integrity, with a focus on provide a quality experience to all student athletes. I am happy for Matt and Claudia – they will be valued members of the Carson-Newman and Jefferson City communities."
~ Rick Hart, Director of Athletics, SMU
"Matt's at a place in his career from which he can take on this position energetically and with confidence. He earns the respect of colleagues and coaches quickly. If I were a chancellor or president, I would hire him without hesitation. Under his leadership, the Athletics Department would be run competently. He understands well the role athletics plays in the overall success of a higher education institution."
~ Kevin Braswell, Vice President for University Advancement, Tennessee Tech University
"Matt Pope is one of the best administrators that I have been associated with in the 25 years that I have worked in college athletics. Beyond that and infinitely more important, Matt is a man of faith who embodies what it means to be a believer in Jesus Christ. I know his professional skill set and faith will make him a perfect fit for Carson-Newman."
~ Jeff Allen, Associate Athletic Director, Alabama
"Matt is a fantastic family man and leader who deserves this opportunity to lead Carson-Newman Athletics. He is a hard working administrator with an array of talents that has a passion for athletics. I could not be more excited for my former colleague and friend."
~ Ryan Peck, Executive Sr. Associate Athletic Director, University of North Texas
"Matt Pope fits perfectly in the strong lineage of athletic directors at Carson-Newman. Matt will lead with empathy and with great vision, constantly striving to create the best possible experience for the student-athletes, the staff, and Jefferson City. All the while, Matt Pope will be a faithful servant and ambassador of the university."
~ Trip Durham, NACMA Past President