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Barry Alvarez honored as the nation’s best Athletic Director

Wisconsin’s athletic director named the 2017-18 Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year.

Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez is no stranger to earning honors as a football coach. The Badgers’ Director of Athletics was a two-time national coach of the year and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. Now Alvarez is being honored for his work overseeing one of the top athletic departments in the country.

Alvarez was named a 2017-18 Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) announced on Monday. He joins Whit Babcock (Virginia Tech), Joe Castiglione (Oklahoma) and Kirby Hocutt (Texas Tech) as the honorees from FBS schools.

The Athletic Director of the Year Award highlights the efforts of athletics directors at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses and their surrounding communities.

Alvarez is in his 15th season as Wisconsin’s Director of Athletics, his 13th without the additional title of head football coach. During his 15 years at the helm, UW has won a combined 14 team national titles and 62 conference regular-season or tournament crowns.

Alvarez has overseen an unprecedented run of success in football and men’s basketball. From 2002-03 to 2016-17, UW appeared in a bowl game and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament 15 consecutive seasons. That is the longest streak in NCAA history, surpassing Texas’ run of 12 straight years from 1998-99 to 2009-10.

After this past fall season, UW ranked third in the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, trailing only Stanford and Penn State. The Badger football team won a school-record 13 games, including an Orange Bowl victory, and finished the season ranked sixth in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Each of Wisconsin’s other five fall sports advanced to postseason play, with the men’s soccer team winning its first Big Ten tournament title.

Off the field last fall, Alvarez oversaw Wisconsin’s assistance to Florida Atlantic University’s football program when FAU was stuck in Madison following Hurricane Irma. UW allowed FAU use of practice and training facilities, food, laundry services and more while the team spent an extra three days in Madison.

In the spring of 2017, two Badgers earned prestigious awards as volleyball student-athlete Lauren Carlini was named the Sullivan Award winner, given to the best amateur athlete in the United States, and goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens won the Patty Kazmeier Award, given to the top player in women’s college hockey.

In Alvarez’s 14 previous seasons as A.D., Wisconsin has finished among the top 30 in the NACDA Directors’ Cup 13 times, including a 16th-place finish last year and in 2006-07 (2nd-best in school history). Six different programs have won national titles during Alvarez’s tenure, including four in the magical 2005-06 season. Fourteen different teams have been crowned as conference champions, including five in each of the 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons.

On the academic side, more than 1,500 student-athletes have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in Alvarez’ 14-year tenure. Since 2009-10, UW student-athletes have achieved at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. At the end of spring 2016, the cumulative GPA for all student-athletes was 3.08. In 2016-17, nine sports either set or tied their highest term or cumulative team grade-point averages ever.

Alvarez was appointed in the spring of 2008 as one of the chairs of the NCAA’s Football Academic Enhancement Group, which was formed to review and recommend improvements for the APR rating. He also served on the NCAA Football Issues Committee and was a member of the inaugural College Football Playoff Committee in its first three years. In addition to the College Football and Rose Bowl Halls of Fame, Alvarez was voted into the state of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009, the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010, and the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame in 2016.

All NACDA-member directors of athletics in the United States, Canada and Mexico who met the criteria were eligible for the award. Among the criteria were service as an AD for a minimum of five academic years; demonstration of commitment to higher education and student-athletes; continuous teamwork, loyalty and excellence; and the ability to inspire individuals or groups to high levels of accomplishments. Additionally, each AD’s institution must have passed a compliance check through its appropriate governing body (i.e., NCAA, NAIA, etc.), in which the institution could not have been on probation or cited for a lack of institutional control within the last five years during the tenure of the current athletics director.

(courtesy of UW Athletic Communications)

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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