Larry Williams was named the Zips’ Director of Athletics on August 18, 2015.
During his inaugural year at Akron (2015-16), the Zips had one of the most successful athletic campaigns in program history. The Zips captured five Mid-American Conference team championships as well as 27 individual conference titles. Junior Clayton Murphy won the NCAA championship in both the indoor 800 meters and the outdoor 1,500 meters. Overall, Zips’ student-athletes garnered a combined to earn 18 All-America honors, 79 All-Conference accolades, and 135 Academic All- Conference honors.
In the spring, Akron was named the recipient of the 2015-16 Reese Trophy as the Mid-American Conference’s top men’s athletic program, capturing the award for the second time (2014) in program history.
Williams has a diverse athletics background and proven track record. Throughout his career, he has been a NCAA Division I athletic director, collegiate and professional athlete, including a stint with the Cleveland Browns, practicing attorney, media talent, university marketing administrator, and most recently, a top executive in the corporate trademark licensing and marketing industry.
Williams came to the University from Equity Management, Inc., where he led the nation’s largest corporate licensing program, increasing marketing, royalties, and branding.
Prior to that, Williams directed the athletics department at two universities, focusing on competitive excellence, academic success, and business fundamentals.
As the vice president and director of athletics at Marquette University, Williams saw the Golden Eagles achieve unprecedented broad-based excellence. The men’s basketball team reached the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite 8. Marquette was one of only two schools to have its men’s soccer, women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball teams receive NCAA berths in back-to-back years and Top 10 RPI rankings in 2013.
Likewise, the Portland Pilots, under Williams’ leadership, won a NCAA Division I Championship in women’s soccer in 2005, and earned Top 10 finishes in men’s cross country as well as first-ever national rankings in men’s basketball, baseball, and tennis.
In the classroom, Marquette’s student-athlete graduation success rate exceeded that of the general student body, highlighted by a 21 percent rise in men’s basketball and 30 percent in men’s lacrosse. Individually, the Golden Eagles earned numerous Academic All-America and All-Conference recognition. Under Williams’ direction, Portland consistently achieved well above the NCAA prescribed Academic Progress Report baseline, and individual student-athletes received multiple awards, including a Rhodes Scholar finalist, Fulbright Scholarship winners, and numerous Academic All-America and All-Conference awards.
Williams’ business acumen was also demonstrated when he spearheaded Marquette’s membership into the new Big East Conference, increasing media revenue and television exposure; and oversaw significant facility expansion, including a new soccer stadium and a training center for all student-athletes. At Portland, Williams also oversaw significant facility expansion, brand development, and increased exposure through television contracts and game attendance. The Pilots achieved NCAA attendance records and institutional records for fundraising and ticket sales during Williams’ tenure.
Williams was a two-time All-American football player and a 1985 graduate of the University of Notre Dame. The offensive lineman played professional football in the NFL from 1985 to 1993, while at the same time earning a law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1992. He then practiced law for the Indianapolis-based law firm of Baker & Daniels, before returning to Notre Dame in 1999 to work on licensing and product marketing.
Williams has served on the NCAA Championships and Sports Sponsorship Cabinet and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Issues Committee, and previously chaired the West Coast Conference Athletic Directors Council.
A native of Santa Ana, Calif., Williams and his wife, Laura Lee Williams, have five children—Kristin, Sean, Scott, Eric, and Lo.