Rob Mullens has presided over one of the most successful eras in the University of Oregon’s history with Duck student-athletes setting milestone records both on the field and in the classroom. He has guided Oregon to its best finish ever in the Directors’ Cup, a national assessment of an athletic department’s overall achievements. At the same time, Mullens has improved the Ducks’ academic standards to where the University now averages more than 100 academic all-conference selections annually.
And just as important as the athletic and academic success, Oregon’s philosophy of fiscal efficiency during Mullens’ tenure has been recognized nationwide. The University is one of only a handful of institutions nationwide that is self-sufficient as the Oregon brand continues to grow.
Those three pillars – student-athlete experience, academic excellence and broad-based competitive excellence – comprise the foundation of Mullens’ core beliefs as he oversees nearly 500 student-athletes and a budget of nearly $98 million. Yet Mullens himself would tell you that it is the talented student-athletes, coaches and staff at the University of Oregon that are the department’s most valuable assets.
Mullens was named the University’s 12th director of intercollegiate athletics on July 15, 2010, after arriving from the University of Kentucky, where he served as deputy director of athletics and managed day-to-day operations for Kentucky’s 22-sport athletics department, with an annual operating budget of $79 million.
Since Mullens’ arrival in Eugene, the Duck football team has claimed three conference championships in five seasons and played in the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship Game. The 2015 season saw the coronation of the University’s first-ever Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota, as the Ducks won the Pac-12 title and then defeated undefeated Florida State in the Rose Bowl semifinal game.
Spurred by national championships in men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, and women’s indoor track and field, as well as top 10 national finishes by softball, football, men’s and women’s cross country and women’s indoor track and field, the Ducks placed 13th in the 2014-15 Directors’ Cup final standings, an all-time high for Oregon.
In the history of the Directors’ Cup, Oregon is the only program with 18 or fewer NCAA sports to place among the top 15 nationally, a feat the Ducks have done four times. Oregon also ranked among the top 25 for a sixth time in seven years. Ten of the University’s 27 all-time national championships have been won in the last five years.
Off the field, Mullens saw three-quarters of UO student-athletes earn degrees, and three garner Capitol One Academic All-America awards. All told, more than 100 student-athletes won academic all-conference awards. Since the opening of the John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes in 2010, 29 UO student-athletes have earned Academic All-America honors.
Other highlights of Mullens’ tenure include three Women’s College World Series appearances for the softball team, a trip to the NCAA championship game in volleyball, three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament for men’s basketball and a combined total of 10 national championships won by the Duck track and field and cross country squads.
Mullens arrived in Eugene as the Ducks opened their spectacular Matthew Knight Arena, which plays host to the school’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, women’s volleyball and acrobatics and tumbling, in addition to benefitting the entire Eugene-Springfield communities as a state-of-the-art venue for concerts, cultural forums and world-class entertainment. Other recent facilities include the Jaqua Center, the Hatfield-Dowling Football Complex and Pape’ Field. In 2016, the softball team will open the brand new Jane Sanders Stadium.
Mullens’ background is in accounting and auditing, and he promoted sound fiscal management and self-sufficiency at the University of Kentucky. During his total of eight years at Kentucky, the athletic department’s operating budget expanded by nearly 70 percent. Fundraising for the department hit record levels each of the past seven years prior to his departure.
Prior to being named deputy director of athletics at Kentucky in 2006, Mullens began as the university’s executive associate director of athletics in 2002. He served at the University of Maryland from 1996 to 2002, starting as assistant director of athletics for business and ultimately as executive senior associate director of athletics and chief of staff.
The West Virginia native was senior athletics business manager at the University of Miami (Fla.) from 1994 to 1996, and prior to that he was an accountant/auditor at Ernst & Young in Raleigh, N.C.
The 46-year-old Mullens earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in sport management from West Virginia University in 1991 and 1993, respectively. He and his wife, Jane, have two sons - Cooper and Tanner.