Virginia Tech Athletics Department
Jamerson Athletic Center
165 Spring Rd.
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Whit Babcock was officially announced as Virginia Tech’s Director of Athletics on Jan. 24, 2014. Babcock, a former college baseball player at James Madison University, joined the Hokies following two and a half years at the University of Cincinnati, where he served as the Director of Athletics, and five years at the University of Missouri, where he served as the executive associate director of athletics.
Babcock had a busy first year at Virginia Tech, hiring a new basketball coach in Buzz Williams, who took Marquette University to the NCAA Tournament five times in six seasons. He also signed both longtime football coach Frank Beamer and defensive coordinator Bud Foster to contract extensions, and he oversaw the launching of a new mission statement and core values for the athletics department.
Babcock and his staff formed a committee to vet a new mission statement and core values, and an inclusive process sought input from university president Dr. Timothy Sands, the University Athletic Council, the university’s Board of Visitors, student-athletes and coaches. The mission statement and the core values – integrity, service, honor, excellence, and strong together – represent the foundation of the department and every decision made.
Babcock also unveiled the “Pylons of Promise,” a landmark document that sets forth the university’s and the athletics department’s commitment to student-athletes during their times at Virginia Tech. This document served as Virginia Tech’s response to the changes in the NCAA governance landscape. The Pylons of Promise is based on the ideals emblazoned on the eight pylons at the Virginia Tech War Memorial Court.
In Babcock’s inaugural year, department officials renewed an emphasis on the fan experience. They enhanced some of their game day features, adding fan amenities, customer initiatives and new interactive video scoreboard elements. Virginia Tech made significant investments in a new lighting system and sound system for Cassell Coliseum, and Babcock hired the department’s first assistant AD for external engagement, which, among other duties, focuses on fan experiences and customer service initiatives.
The Hokies enjoyed success both in the playing venues and in the classroom during Babcock’s first year. Virginia Tech won ACC championships in the sports of wrestling and men’s swimming and diving – the school’s 17th and 18th ACC team titles since joining the league – and 14 of the school’s varsity sports participated in postseason play. Academically, the student- athletes’ combined grade-point average is better than a 3.0, and 148 student-athletes made the Dean’s List (3.4 GPA or better) following the 2014 fall semester.
Under Babcock, Virginia Tech also continued its string of strong performances in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup standings. The Hokies finished 37th, their third-best finish ever, and they’ve finished in the top 40 four times in the past five years.
Babcock’s background in fundraising, marketing, promotions, ticket sales, licensing and multimedia partnerships were key attributes in support of his hiring. In his introductory press conference, Babcock cited three guiding principles for his vision for the athletics department's future: commitment to comprehensive excellence, centering the department's focus on the student-athlete experience, and engaging the community.
During his two-year stint as the AD at Cincinnati, Babcock initiated a new administrative structure within the department, proposed a comprehensive vision and capital campaign for athletics facility enhancement, including an $86-million renovation and expansion to Nippert Stadium, the school’s football stadium. He also set forth a scholarship enhancement plan for Olympic sports, crafted a three-year strategic plan for all facets of the program, hired head coaches in football, baseball, men’s track and field, lacrosse, volleyball and women’s soccer and implemented numerous external relations strategies to connect and engage with Bearcats’ alumni, donors, fans and students.
The Cincinnati athletics department operated under Babcock's ONE TEAM philosophy that centered on the core values of Integrity, respect, determination and excellence working together as 547 student-athletes, 150 staff, 19 sports and ONE TEAM.
He also implemented numerous changes in Cincinnati’s academic area aimed at enhancing the student-athlete experience; reinstated and enhanced scholarship funding to Olympic sports; added men's indoor track and field as the department's 19th sport and streamlined his executive team to ensure better lines of communications across the department and University community.
Babcock’s last full season at Cincinnati (2012-13) was successful one for the Bearcats that saw the football team win its fourth conference championship in five seasons and the men's basketball squad earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year.
Academically, Cincinnati transitioned from an academic calendar of quarters to semesters, and the Bearcats had a departmental GPA of 3.028, marking their eighth consecutive grading period with a 3.0 GPA or higher and 14 of the last 15 quarters in which the department had a 3.0 GPA or higher. Overall 11 of 17 teams achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Nearly 60 percent of all UC student-athletes earned a 3.0 GPA or higher. Thirty-three percent of all student-athletes achieved a 3.4 GPA or higher earning each of them recognition as Dean's List with 18 who achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Babcock's first year at UC was also certainly full of notable highlights, both on the field and in the classroom. The football team won the BIG EAST Conference title and defeated Vanderbilt University in the Liberty Bowl. The men's basketball team reached the title game of the BIG EAST Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Cincinnati was one of just six schools in the nation to have both its football and men's basketball programs be nationally ranked at the end of the year. Women's basketball earned a berth in the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) and posted a first-round win. Volleyball won the BIG EAST Tournament Championship and participated in the NCAA Tournament. Women's track had its best finishes in the BIG EAST Championship meet in both indoor and outdoor competition. Those competitive successes led to Cincinnati’s highest finish in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings.
Over the past five years, both while at Cincinnati and Virginia Tech, Babcock has been active on the local and national speaking circuits. He has presented before the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) and the 1-A Athletic Directors Association annual institute. He is a past president of the National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD).
Prior to his time at Missouri, Babcock's 22-year career path included stops at West Virginia University, Auburn University, and James Madison University.
A native of Harrisonburg, Virginia, Babcock lettered four seasons in baseball at James Madison University and served as team captain his senior year. He earned his bachelor's degree from JMU in 1992. In 1996, he received his master's in sports management from West Virginia University.
He and his wife, Kelly, have three sons: Andrew, Brett and Eli.