Rick Dickson has proven to be the right man in the right place at the right time for Tulane University Athletics. Beginning his 16th year as the Director of Athletics at Tulane, Dickson has not only sustained Green Wave Athletics but led its transformation to a model Division I Athletics program.
Dickson was the recipient of the 2004 Award for Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, for his leadership in guiding Tulane Athletics through the difficult time of the university's Board review. In 2006, he was awarded the United States Sports Academy Distinguished Service Award for skillfully directing the department through the unprecedented adversity of Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in the nation's history.
His swift and decisive response to these challenges saved Tulane Athletics, allowing TU's student-athletes and staff to continue to represent Tulane as one of the nation's premier universities and athletics programs.
During the 2005-06 campaign, Dickson kept Tulane Athletics teams viable by first overseeing the evacuation of student-athletes from New Orleans in advance of Hurricane Katrina, and then providing opportunities for the Green Wave's teams to continue competing while dispersed to four campuses in Louisiana and Texas. Working with no home facilities, a depleted budget, and the University shut down for the fall, Tulane Athletics was charged to "Carry the Torch, Be the Face and Represent the Name" not only of Tulane but New Orleans and the entire Gulf region.
In the aftermath of Katrina, Dickson oversaw and presented a plan to the Tulane Board of Administrators to return the Green Wave athletics programs to full-time Division I status with the full complement of the required 16 sports. He took great satisfaction when the reinstatement plan was adopted by the board in 2007, which restarted many of the sports programs suspended as a consequence of Hurricane Katrina.
Dickson's 15th year marked the beginning of a renaissance period for Tulane Athletics. The 2014-15 campaign was Tulane's inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference, its first season in the new on-campus home for Tulane football- Yulman Stadium- and the majority of the Green Wave's facilities were either new or received major renovations over the last six years. Tulane's entrance into The American saw unprecedented television coverage for Green Wave sports.
The 2012-13 campaign proved to another season full of milestones in the school annals. With Dickson and former Tulane president Scott Cowen leading the way, Tulane announced its entrance into The American and his fundraising efforts landed a lead naming sponsor for Tulane's new football stadium- Yulman Stadium- in honor of Tulane alum Richard Yulman and his family. Three Green Wave programs advanced to postseason play, which was highlighted by the women's golf team's ninth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. In the classroom, Tulane's sports program were once again singled out by the NCAA for their elite performances, including the men's cross country, men's outdoor track & field, men's swimming, women's swimming & diving each placed in the top 10 percent of their respective sports, while seven squads registered perfect scores.
Dickson fulfilled his plan to make TU's sports line-up "whole" again in 2011-12 as women's sand volleyball and women's bowling played their inaugural seasons, giving Tulane a 16 sport line-up for the first time since the fall of 2005. The Hertz Center was dedicated in the fall of 2011 as the new state-of-the-art practice facility for the TU men's and women's basketball and volleyball programs.
The 2009-10 season saw the return of men's tennis and women's swimming & diving, bringing the Green Wave's lineup to 14 sports. The season was a banner year for Tulane athletics as the women's golf team repeated as Conference USA champions and finished 18th in the nation at the NCAA Championships, while the women's basketball team claimed the C-USA regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament and the TU volleyball team returned to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season.
The 2008-09 campaign saw the addition of four new programs-- women's golf, women's tennis, men's cross country and men's outdoor track & field-- return to the varsity sports lineup and each sport turned in solid first seasons with the golf team capturing the Conference USA championship and posting a 20th place at the NCAA Championships, while the tennis team registered a 12-12 mark. The TU volleyball team won its first Conference USA regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round.
Each year of Dickson's tenure Tulane student-athletes have achieved the highest levels in the classroom -- compiling semester grade point average of 3.0 and ranking among the NCAA leaders in graduation rates.
Over the last 11 years, Tulane's varsity sports teams scored well above their national averages in the NCAA's Academic Performance Rates (APR).
In 2006-07, Dickson and former NCAA President Myles Brand were among the many to praise Tulane's student-athletes and staff for their strong academic performance despite Hurricane Katrina.
In 2003, Dickson assumed the task of building a permanent foundation of support for Tulane Athletics through the Perpetual Wave Campaign. The $65 million campaign was initiated in 2003 following a Board review, which resulted in a unanimous resolution reaffirming the institution's NCAA status. During the review, Dickson guided the department through an intense campaign that saw football season ticket sales more than double, as well as securing funding for the new baseball stadium and numerous other facilities and program updates.
Dickson's efforts to grow the fan base and establish a plan for long-term financial stability comes on the heels of some of the most successful athletics seasons in school history. Under Dickson's watch, Tulane teams have won 41 C-USA titles and advanced to NCAA postseason play 36 times, including the two bowl games (2002, 2013), the 2001 and 2005 College World Series and the 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014 NCAA Women's Golf Championships.
Dickson's innovative scheduling strategy resulted in some of the best-attended events ever at the school, highlighted by the three-game 2001 Super Regional series at Zephyr Field that attracted more than 35,000 fans. In 2002, he scheduled a national record breaking regular season baseball game vs. LSU (28,736-since broken). Football games with teams such as Alabama, Mississippi State and Texas have attracted regional and national attention.
A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Dickson came to Tulane from Washington State, where he served as athletics director from 1994-2000. At Washington State, Dickson oversaw an athletics program that was recognized nationally for its success in dealing with gender equity issues. He raised funds for a capital campaign for scholarships and endowments, an indoor practice facility, and the renovation of Bohler Gymnasium. Washington State enjoyed on-the-field success during his tenure, highlighted by the football team's first Rose Bowl appearance in 67 years in 1998.
Prior to that, he spent six years as athletic director at his alma mater, The University of Tulsa, where he was instrumental in forming a football scheduling alliance that evolved into Conference USA, and the expansion of the Western Athletic Conference.
Dickson and his wife, Brenda, are the parents of three daughters and a son, and also have one grandchild. Doug, Kari, Kasi and Kelli, a four-year letter winner in volleyball for the Green Wave, are all Tulane graduates. Kari is a graduate of Tulane's Law School.