Michael Alford, a senior executive with a history of fundraising and marketing in college and professional athletics, today was named associate vice president and director of athletics at Central Michigan University.
The announcement from President George E. Ross comes three days after interviews concluded with four finalists.
“Michael Alford has demonstrated leadership in Division I athletics in the Power 5 conferences and in the NFL. He’s worked with coaches, students and athletic supporters,” Ross said.
“I’ve said all along we would name an athletics director who is committed to furthering our championship culture, who agrees athletes are students first, and who has an unwavering commitment to upholding CMU's reputation as one of just 13 universities without a major NCAA violation,” he said. “Michael Alford is a leader who represents all that CMU is, who is an excellent fundraiser and who will be an integral member of the CMU community."
Alford, currently the senior associate athletics director for administration and development at the University of Oklahoma, replaces Dave Heeke, who left CMU on April 1 to become the vice president of athletics at the University of Arizona.
Alford’s first official day with CMU Athletics will be July 3. Marcy Weston has served as the interim director of athletics since April 3.
Alford, 47, was the senior director for corporate partnerships and sales for the Dallas Cowboys from 2008 to 2012, and he was the general manager of Crimson Tide Sports Marketing at the University of Alabama from 2004-2008. He also has worked for ESPN, the University of Southern California, the Cincinnati Bengals and the University of Cincinnati.
At Oklahoma, Alford leads development, marketing, oversees several sports, is part of the Title IX, gender equity and diversity and inclusion teams, negotiates corporate sponsorship agreements and helps manage master plans for facilities.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a broad-based career with championship organizations, and I’ve had the chance to work for the very best people,” Alford said. “Joe Castiglione here at Oklahoma is such a natural leader, and Mal Moore at Alabama is somebody I often emulate. My mentors taught me a lot about entrepreneurship, negotiations and building a championship culture.”
Alford, the seventh athletics director at CMU since 1940, will be introduced at a press conference on Thursday, June 8 in the John G. Kulhavi Events Center. He also will attend the annual Chippewa Challenge golf fundraiser on Friday, June 9.
“I’m so excited to be a part of Central Michigan University,” Alford said. “The university’s reputation extends well beyond the Mid-American Conference. I saw the NCAA academic progress rates released a few days ago, and to see the golf and lacrosse teams have a perfect 1,000 score and five other programs at 990 or higher shows we can compete with anybody on the field and in the classroom.”
Alford recently planned and managed a $160 million end zone facility project at Oklahoma, and he led several capital campaigns, such as one for a $7 million basketball performance center that will open in 2018.
“Athletics are an important part of the total CMU experience, expanding bonds among students, faculty and staff, with our community, and with alumni and donors,” Ross said. “Michael has the expertise to advance our game on the revenue side, while keeping the focus on leadership, integrity and excellence on the field and court, in academics and in serving others.”
Joe Castiglione, University of Oklahoma vice president and director of athletics, praised Alford and predicted a strong future for him and CMU’s athletic department.
"Michael will bring a great deal of energy and passion while building meaningful relationships for Central Michigan University. He's skilled and uniquely qualified, but most of all, he will make the best and right decisions centered around core values, the quality of the student-athlete experience and the vast Chippewa family he now represents," Castiglione said. Alford’s wife, Laura, played volleyball at Hawaii and coached at Cincinnati. Their daughter, Audrey Alford, is a sophomore volleyball player at Oklahoma. Daughters Ashley, 16, and Anna Leigh, 13, also play volleyball.