Virginia Tech Athletics Department
Jamerson Athletic Center
25 Beamer Way
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.
Now in his second year at Tech, Babcock continues making his mark in all facets of the department. His approach is to ensure that the programs continue their recent string of successes, while also he also remains sharply focused on the areas of student-athlete experience, fan engagement and fundraising.
The Hokies have enjoyed success both in the playing venues and in the classroom during Babcock’s brief tenure. In 2015, Virginia Tech won ACC championships in the sports of men’s track and field and wrestling – the school’s 19th and 20th ACC team titles since joining the league. During the 2014-15 academic year, seven teams qualified for NCAA competition, including women’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s soccer, softball, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and wrestling. In addition, the Hokies’ track and field and swimming and diving teams sent several individuals to the NCAA Championships in those respective sports.
Academically, 50 percent of Tech’s student-athletes maintain a cumulative grade-point average 3.0 or better. The average team cumulative GPA is 3.06, and 13 teams maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA or better.
Babcock and his staff launched two big initiatives in Year No. 2, with the announcement of the 110% Hokie Campaign and the Twenty4You initiative. He recognized Tech’s student-athletes giving 110 percent, so the 110% Hokie Campaign calls for donors to do the same, increasing their annual contributions by 10 percent to help offset Tech’s commitment in paying the cost-of-attendance “gap” for its student-athletes.
The Twenty4You initiative is a 24-point plan designed to improve the gameday experience at Lane Stadium based on fan feedback following the 2014 season. This plan looked at everything from ticketing to parking to concessions and music and much, much more, and will be implemented for the 2015 season.
Babcock also made his mark on Tech’s facilities in his second year, as he and his staff oversaw the completion of a new $21.3 million indoor practice facility behind the Jamerson Athletics Center. This facility will be used by the football program, and also other sports, including the men’s and women’s soccer, baseball, softball and lacrosse programs. He also plans improvements to Rector Field House, Tech Softball Park and the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center.
Babcock’s inaugural year at Virginia Tech was a busy one, as he hired 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.
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.
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 Cincinnati, Babcock's 22-year career path included stops at Missouri, West Virginia, Auburn, and James Madison.
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.