Mark Wilson raced through his first decade in his role as Director of Athletics at Tennessee Tech University — last year he completed his 14th year at the helm of the bustling department.
And now he’s full-speed ahead into his next phase, continuing to provide leadership and direction to Golden Eagle athletics, staff and student-athletes.
From the get-go his priority has been enhancing the ‘student-athlete’ experience, challenging them with tough schedules, improved facilities, and opportunities to develop to their fullest potential, not only in competition but in the classroom, their lives and futures.
Upon his arrival at Tennessee Tech in 2004, Wilson embarked on an ambitious enhancement program to improve every facet of intercollegiate athletics at Tennessee Tech, including academic performance.
In the Spring of 2018, for the 19th consecutive semester Tech’s student-athletes teamed up to top 3.0 for their combined grade point average (GPA). Over the past several semesters, Golden Eagle student-athletes have posted the highest GPAs in school history.
Private fundraising has enhanced facilities for TTU student-athletes, highlighted by the construction of a 25,000 square-foot Athletic Performance Center and state-of-the-art basketball offices. He initiated a new branding and standard graphic identity program for regional and national recognition of TTU athletics and under his leadership, TTU’s teams have been highly active supporting community outreach programs such as Habitat for Humanity and Mustard Seed Ranch (a local home for disadvantaged youth).
Wilson’s hiring decisions have also paid off. Thirty-three Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) regular season and tournament championships have been won, along with the 2012 OVC Institutional Sportsmanship Award and an NCAA Regional by the 2018 baseball team. The 2011 football team under Watson Brown won its first conference championship since 1975. In the past two season, the baseball team has won two OVC regular season championships, an OVC Tournament title and the first NCAA Regional title in OVC history. The tennis team, under the direction of four-time OVC Coach of the Year Kenny Doyle, has won the regular season championship five of the last seven years, as well as the 2016, 2017 and 2018 tournament titles and automatic berths to the NCAA Tournament. In 2018, both the women's indoor and outdoor track & field teams collected their first-ever OVC titles.
In 2013, Wilson was named one of four winners of the Athletic Director of the Year Award for the Football Championship Subdivision, an honor selected and presented by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics
Wilson, 48, has been active in the Ohio Valley Conference governance structure, and has served as chair of the OVC Board of Director of Athletics and represented the OVC on the NCAA Leadership Council.
Well-respected on the national scene, he is highly involved in numerous committees. Following his previous appointment on the NCAA Leadership Council, Wilson serves as President of the FCS ADA Executive Committee following a year-long stint as First Vice President. He is currently serving a four-year term on the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee, acting as Chair for 2015-16 and also serves on the NCAA Football Oversight Committee.
Wilson’s first 14 years as Director of Athletics at TTU have showcased his vision, energy, and enthusiasm for providing outstanding experiences for Tech’s student-athletes and fans. In addition to major improvements in Tennessee Tech’s athletics facilities, high graduation and APR rates by Golden Eagle student-athletes, and outstanding academic success, Wilson has also cultivated excellent relationships with the campus, community and alumni.
In short, Wilson has facilitated growth and excellence in all areas of TTU Athletics.
Wilson also developed a strategic plan for Tech’s athletic facilities and has already seen some of those plans become reality. During the past nine years Tech has completed several construction and renovation projects to athletic facilities. In addition to the APC and the basketball office complex, projects have included a new natural grass practice field, installation of new turf in Tucker Stadium, installation of lights at the Tech soccer field, renovation of the running track, football offices, meeting rooms and locker rooms, new lights at Tucker Stadium, a new video board, seats and floor projection system in Eblen Center and, most recently, a brand new, state-of-the-art video board at Tucker Stadium.
Additional building plans call for a new student-athlete center, an on-campus tennis center, and moreenhancements to Tucker Stadium.
Another step achieved under Wilson’s direction has been increased fundraising and development efforts with the goal of providing the necessary facilities and resources for Tech’s student-athletes, coaches and staff.
All of those accomplishments have come while the department has continued to stay focused on compliance with all NCAA rules and regulations. The most recent NCAA announcements show that all 14 of Tech’s athletic programs are comfortably above the benchmark for compliance in the Academic Progress Rate (APR).
Just as important are the relationships that Wilson has developed and nurtured, including the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, the student body, the campus community and the region at-large. His leadership has been instrumental in the overwhelming success in the community’s host role at Tucker Stadium for the annual Blue Cross Bowl for the TSSAA high school state championship football games.
Tech has also seen growth in regional and national media exposure for its student-athletes and coaches while his hands-on approach to marketing and branding Golden Eagle Athletics has earned increased opportunities and involvement for fans and sponsors. Some of the ideas he has implemented include the Purple Pride Caravans, a new athletics logo and branding marks that have gained nationwide recognition, and an updated and modern ticketing system.
Under Wilson’s direction, Tech has introduced an enhanced digital video presence for athletics, including free live web streaming productions and a variety of additional video programs, interviews and features that give fans, alumni and supporters greater access to Golden Eagle teams, student-athletes, coaches and staff.
Wilson was named Director of Athletics on July 1, 2004. He came to Tennessee Tech from a position of Associate Athletic Director at Ohio University. Prior to that, he served as the Director of Athletic Marketing for the University of Massachusetts, worked as a graduate assistant in the UMass athletic department and interned with the Northwestern University ticketing and marketing departments.
Wilson received his bachelor’s degree in 1991 from the University of Maine in physical education and health, and earned his master’s in sports management from the University of Massachusetts in 1994.
Mark and his wife, Melanie have five daughters.