Sandy Barbour began her leadership of the Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics program on August 18, 2014. President Eric J. Barron named Barbour the Nittany Lions’ ninth Director of Athletics on July 26, 2014 after serving 10 years as Director of Athletics at the University of California.
Barbour brings to Penn State more than 30 years of varied experiences as a collegiate administrator and coach, with a demonstrated record of championships, academic success, innovation, facility modernization and revenue growth.
Barbour directs Penn State’s 31-sport, broad-based program that supports approximately 850 student-athletes and an Intercollegiate Athletics staff of more than 300.
Serving as the Director of Athletics at Cal since 2004, Barbour guided the Golden Bears through one of the most successful periods in school history. Under her direction, the athletic department became one of the consistently elite programs in the country. Barbour’s 10-year term as AD was the longest tenure for the department since men’s and women’s athletics merged into a single entity in 1992.
During her tenure overseeing Cal’s 30-sport program, the Golden Bears won 20 team national championships, 97 individual national titles, finished in the top 10 in the annual Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings six times, including a program-best third in 2011, and reached record levels in ticket sales, sponsorships and fundraising.
Among Cal’s many team athletic accomplishments under Barbour’s leadership were a 2006 Pac-12 co-championship and seven bowl-game invitations in football; the men’s basketball team’s first conference title in 50 years in 2009-10; a first-ever NCAA Final Four berth in women’s basketball in 2013, two trips to the national semifinals in women’s volleyball and six NCAA Championships in men’s and women’s swimming and diving.
Barbour’s career in intercollegiate athletic administration spans more than 30 years, beginning as a field hockey assistant coach and lacrosse administrative assistant at the University of Massachusetts in 1981. She has since served as assistant athletic director at Northwestern and in 1991 was recruited to Tulane as an associate athletic director.
In 1996, Barbour was appointed Tulane’s director of athletics at age 36, and during her three years overseeing the program, Green Wave teams won 12 conference championships. In her first year in the position, the school captured four conference titles, a feat never before accomplished in Tulane history. She also hired Tommy Bowden as head football coach during her first year. Bowden proceeded in 1997 to post the Green Wave’s first winning season (7-4) in 16 years, and then directed the school to a 12-0 record, a Conference USA championship and a No. 7 national ranking the following season as the 1998 Liberty Bowl champions.
In her position at Notre Dame, Barbour oversaw facilities and event operations for the school’s 26-sport program, including football game management and the department’s two golf courses. She was also responsible for developing, maintaining and implementing Notre Dame’s $127 million athletics facilities master plan.
Additionally, her role at Notre Dame included responsibilities for women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s cross country, indoor and outdoor track, men’s and women’s swimming and men’s golf. She also assisted with the administration of women’s basketball.
Born Dec. 2, 1959, in Annapolis, Md., Barbour grew up in a military family. Her father was a career aviator in the U.S. Navy, and her family lived in various U.S. locations as well as in Western Europe during her childhood.
Barbour graduated cum laude in 1981 with a B.S. degree in physical education from Wake Forest, where she was a four-year letter winner and served as captain of the field hockey team. She also played two varsity seasons of women’s basketball.
Barbour earned advanced degrees at both Massachusetts (an M.S. in sports management in 1983) and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management (an MBA in 1991).
Between master’s programs, Barbour served as assistant field hockey and lacrosse coach at Northwestern from 1982-84. She also held the position of director of recruiting services during that period, before being promoted to assistant athletic director for intercollegiate programs in 1984, a position she held until 1989.
Prior to joining Tulane, Barbour worked in programming and production for FOX Sports Net in Chicago during the summer of 1990.