Rick Dickson has proven to be the right man in the right place at the right time for Tulane University Athletics. Beginning his 13th 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.
The 2011-12 campaign was a milestone season for Green Wave Athletics. Dickson fulfilled his plan to make TU's sports line-up "whole" again 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, and Dickson began one of the biggest undertakings of his career with the announcement of the "Home Field Advantage," a $70 million fundraising campaign to build a on-campus football stadium.
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.
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 the fifth year of the NCAA's Academic Performance Rates (APR), all 14 of Tulane's current varsity sports teams scored well above their national averages, marking the fourth straight year that TU's student-athletes had performed above the national average in the classroom for their respective sports.
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 - while excelling on the field; Tulane remains among the C-USA leaders in conference titles and NCAA appearances.
For the eighth consecutive year, Tulane's student-athletes remain one of the best groups in the nation with their performance in the classroom as all 14 of TU's current varsity sports teams scored well above their national averages for the 2011-12 campaign.
Tulane's men's cross country, men's tennis, men's outdoor track & field, women's swimming and women's tennis programs were each recognized by the NCAA for placing in the top 10 percent in their sports on the multiyear APR.
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 26 Conference USA Championships and advanced to NCAA postseason play 33 times, including the 2001 and 2005 College World Series and the 2009, 2010 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.
Under Dickson, Tulane continues to upgrade its facilities. The newest is a renovation to one of the historic arenas in college basketball as the new Devlin Fieldhouse (formerly Fogelman Arena), the home court for the TU men's and women's basketball and volleyball programs, will debut in the fall of 2012. Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, the home of the Green Wave baseball team, was completed in 2008 and the Goldring Tennis Complex was renovated and resurfaced for the men's and women's tennis programs in 2010. A new field surface and track for the Westfeldt Practice & Competition Facility was installed in 2006.
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. 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.