Kevin M. White was named Duke University’s vice president and director of athletics on May 31, 2008. He also serves as an adjunct professor of business administration at the university. White, 65, joined the Duke family after leading Notre Dame’s athletics program to success both on the playing fields and in the classroom from 2000-08. He also has held a number of prominent national leadership roles within intercollegiate athletics, including his service in 2006-07 as president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and in 2005-06 as president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association. While at Notre Dame, in 2006, White was named the GeneralSports TURF Systems Division I- A Central Region Athletic Director of the Year. In 2013, White was named one of four NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision recipients of the Under Armour AD of the Year Award presented by NACDA. A testament to the respect he has garnered within college athletics, White earned multiple high profile awards in 2014-15, including the National Football Foundation’s John L. Toner award, Sports Business Journal’s Athletic Director of the Year award, Bobby Dodd AD of the Year, and the 2015 Carl Maddox Sports Management Award.
Guided by the Strategic Plan, that was approved by Duke’s Board of Trustees in April of 2008, White made an immediate impact on Duke Athletics. In addition to leading the department to unprecedented success in competition, he reshaped the organization into a more efficient department; strengthened ties to both campus and community constituents though consistent outreach efforts; successfully oversaw Duke Athletics’ record-breaking fundraising efforts; streamlined and invested in staffing and forged partnerships with major corporate entities to enhance revenue streams to historically high levels; commissioned and executed a master facilities plan to position Duke well into the 21st Century; implemented significant diversity and inclusion efforts for Duke Athletics; and emphasized a stronger commitment to the university’s intramural, club and recreational sports programs. Since White’s arrival, Duke has captured seven NCAA Championships – women’s tennis in 2009, men’s basketball in 2010 and 2015, men’s lacrosse in 2010, 2013 and 2014, and women’s golf in 2014 – and 17 ACC titles. On the strength of 19 teams participating in postseason competition and robust finishes in several sports, Duke ranked 24th in the 2016 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, which determine an institution’s all-around strength in intercollegiate athletics. The 24th-place showing marked the 13th consecutive year that Duke has ended among the nation’s top 25 programs. In 2011, Duke placed fifth, matching the school’s best finish in the rankings and its 1171.50 points earned were the most in program history. In White’s eight years at Duke, the Blue Devils placed 17th (2009), 10th (2010), fifth (2011), 16th (2012), 12th (2013), ninth (2014), 20th (2015) and 24th (2016) in the Directors’ Cup standings.
Seventy-five Blue Devil teams ranked among the nation’s top 10 teams during the past seven seasons with 11 – men’s basketball (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015), men’s lacrosse (2010, 2013, 2014) and women’s tennis (2009, 2010, 2014) – reaching No. 1. In all, 137 Blue Devil teams advanced to NCAA postseason competition during White’s Duke tenure. In 2015-16, the women’s soccer team played in the national championship game, while the field hockey and women’s golf teams both reached the NCAA semifinals. Duke’s football team participated in its fourth consecutive bowl game, capturing the New Era Pinstripe Bowl title with a 44-41 overtime win against Indiana. Duke was the only athletic department in the nation to have a bowl champion, a Sweet 16 appearance in men’s basketball and secure a baseball NCAA postseason berth.
Individually, 271 student-athletes earned All-America, 485 All-ACC and 245 All-Region or District honors the past eight years. During White’s tenure, Duke boasts 13 NCAA individual champions in Curtis Beach (indoor track and field heptathlon in 2012 and 2014), Juliet Bottorff (outdoor track and field 10k in 2011), Virginia Elena Carta (women’s golf in 2016), Mallory Cecil (women’s tennis in 2009), Abby Johnston (three-meter diving in 2011), Nick McCrory (platform diving in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014), and Becca Ward (women’s fencing, saber in 2009, 2011 and 2012). Academically, Duke teams continued strong performances under White. In the 2015-16 academic year, 25 of 26 Blue Devil varsity teams earned grade point averages of 3.0 or better, while 97 student-athletes earned Dean’s List honors in the fall semester, and 90 did so in the spring. Overall, 480 Blue Devil student-athletes made the latest All-ACC Honor Roll and continued an amazing stretch wherein Duke led the conference for the 28th time in the past 29 years.
In two key elements in tracking a department’s academic success, Duke ranked among the nation’s best again. Duke posted a 98% Graduation Success Rate (GSR) and 17 teams achieved a 100% GSR. Also, 15 Blue Devil teams – good for third nationally – were ranked in the top 10% of their respective sports in the most recent Academic Performance Rate (APR) Report, including the men’s basketball and football teams. In the 2016 report, Duke (995) ranked first among all FBS schools. In all, Duke totaled the highest APR scores among ACC institutions in 12 of the league’s 25 sports including, baseball (993), men’s cross country (1000), women’s cross country (1000), women’s fencing (1000), football (995), men’s golf (1000), women’s golf (1000), women’s lacrosse (1000), men’s tennis (1000), women’s track and field (1000), volleyball (1000), and wrestling (1000). Also, eight additional Duke programs ranked among the ACC’s top three in their respective sports. Six Duke student-athletes were selected as CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, while 34 others received National Scholar-Athlete or Scholar All-America accolades. In White’s eight-year tenure, former women’s tennis player, Parker Goyer won a Rhodes Scholarship (2009), while pole vaulter Sally Liu (2009) and swimmer Allie Speidel (2011) earned Marshall Scholarships. Under White, Duke has continued its focus on outreach to the local community. Modeling the NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills program’s commitment to service, learning projects and outreach, over 500 Duke student-athletes across all sports participated in a combined effort of more than 2,000 community service hours during the 2015-16 academic year.
White’s commitment to the overall mission of the university remains clear. A portion of ticket sales Blue Devil regular season home sporting events are directed annually to the Duke University Libraries and the Rubenstein-Bing Civic Student-Athlete Civic Engagement program (ACE). Per White’s vision from 2011, the Duke Athletics Library Fund has generated significant unrestricted revenue for the Duke University Libraries to support teaching and research across the institution. The civic engagement program, known as ACE, was started in 2015 in a partnership with Stanford University. The foundation of the venture includes student-athletes from both Duke and Stanford working together in under- resourced communities in the United States and abroad. Through immersive three-week summer service assignments that started with 40 student-athletes from the two schools in 2016, the student-athletes had opportunities otherwise not afforded to them during the school year due to academic and athletic responsibilities. White, who holds a Ph.D. in education, has taught graduate-level classes since 1982 and currently teaches a sports business course in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business as part of Duke’s MBA program. In August 2003, SI.com (the Sports Illustrated web site) listed White, then at Notre Dame, third in its rankings of the most powerful people in college football. In January 2004, The Sporting News listed him in its Power 100 as third among five names in the “front office” category (and the lone college athletics director among the 100).White has served on numerous NCAA committees, including the NCAA Council, formerly the association’s highest governing body. In 2012, White was among a select group of college and professional administrators asked to serve on the recently formed Expert Advisory Board for the Knight Commission. Moreover, he was the secretary of NCAA Football, a non-profit corporation acting as the “collective voice to promote college football.” Always in demand as a visionary leader, White currently serves on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Board of Directors and on the Advocates for Athletic Equity Board of Directors. For several years, he was a representative with the football Bowl Championship Series. In addition, he previously was an ex-officio member of the Sugar Bowl Committee during his tenure at Tulane, was a member of the Rose Bowl Management Committee while at Arizona State, and also worked closely with the Fiesta Bowl during his stay in Tempe.