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Pollard, Jamie

Published onMar 12, 2021
Pollard, Jamie

Jamie Pollard, 2020

Commissioned by University Museums. Funded by the Office of the President. U2020.4

JAMIE POLLARD is in his 16th year as the Director of Athletics at Iowa State and his vision for success and energy to execute that plan continues to have major impacts on campus, in the Big 12 and nationally.

Under Pollard’s leadership, the department has invested significantly in facilities (with a $90 million, 110,000 square foot Sports Performance Center nearing completion), energized the fan base, tripled its operating budget and eliminated its dependence upon state funding, recorded all-time program bests on the field and in the classroom and bettered attendance marks in its five major sports.

The 2019-20 Cyclones – despite a shortened season due to COVID-19, recorded the Big 12’s third-best graduation rate and all-sports finish. Iowa State won Big 12 championships in men’s cross country and men’s indoor track & field (the first since moving to the Big 12).

The Iowa State athletics brand is stronger than it has ever been.

National observers have noticed the resurgence in Ames and Pollard was recognized as 2019 Athletics Director of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). He was also a finalist for the 2019 Sports Business Journal AD of the Year.

Pollard added another prestigious assignment to his resume in 2019 when he was chosen to serve a five-year term on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee. Although COVID-19 cancelled the tournament, Pollard begins his second year of a five-year term this season.

Pollard is a member of the Executive Committee of NACDA and will be the organization’s first vice-president in 2020. He has served previously as President of the Division I-A Athletics Director’s Association and the Collegiate Athletics Business Manager’s Association.

A former national champion long-distance runner at UW-Oshkosh (where he is in the school’s Hall of Fame), Pollard channeled his competitive drive into an athletics administration career. Prior to arrival at ISU he served in various athletic administrative capacities at Wisconsin, Maryland and Saint Louis.

He received a 2003 Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal “Top Forty Under 40” award, the first college administrator honored. Pollard has served as chair of the Big 12 Athletics Directors Committee and as President of the Division 1A Athletics Directors Association.

Jamie and his wife, Ellen, have four children: Thomas, Annie, Maggie and James. Thomas was 2017 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in cross country at Iowa State and Maggie competes collegiately in track for at Nebraska.

The family’s local philanthropic efforts have benefitted Blank Children’s Hospital, Variety Children’s Charity and United Way of Central Iowa.

Jon Fleming, Donor to Athletics and Cyclone fan since birth (2020): Since that fall day in 2005 when Jamie Pollard began his duties as the Director of Athletics, the university has forever been transformed to possessing a program that has the respect from not only its passionate fan base but on a national level.

Jamie’s list of accomplishments simply are too lengthy to do justice in these short words. Regardless, it is most appropriate to mention a few of the highlights. Under Jamie’s leadership, more than $250 million has been invested in new construction and facility renovations made possible through his donor relations efforts, he has hired what many consider the strongest coaching staff in school history, and attendance at all sporting events, mostly notably football, is at record levels.

Two unforeseen and unprecedented crises disrupted the college sports scene during Jamie’s time at Iowa State. In 2011 institutional conference realignment deeply threatened the university’s membership in the Big XII, and in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe disrupting life as we knew it.  In both instances, the University could not have asked for better leadership in keeping the Department of Athletics not only viable but strong.

Jamie has held numerous national positions including President of the Division 1A Athletics Directors Association as well as a distinguished assignment on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee. Because of his accomplishments and strong leadership, Jamie was most appropriately recognized as the 2019 Athletics Director of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.    

This portrait wonderfully displays many of Jamie’s most admirable qualities.

The somewhat firm facial feature expresses the sound structural and organizational skills he uses in managing the department.

His ears are symmetrically displayed demonstrating that Jamie is a terrific listener to both sides of issues and that he seeks collaborative input to develop consensus during decision making processes.

His soft smile shows that he is not only an extraordinary and transparent communicator, but that he also has profound compassion when interacting with student athletes, staff, and stakeholders.

And finally, one can read by looking directly into his eyes, that one of Jamie’s very strongest attributes is his visionary management style, always thinking a little bit “out of the box” and projecting what may be ideal in the future.

Shortly after his hire, a Cyclone fan commented to a local sports reporter that if the Heisman Trophy, the most prestigious award given annually to the top college football player in the nation, were ever to be given to a director of athletics, Jamie Pollard would be the unanimous  selection.  While not portrayed in this work of art, it is not terribly difficult to envision Jamie wearing a football helmet and shoulder pads.

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