Spears was named Marshall’s Athletic Director on February 21, 2022. Spears has more than 25 years of experience at all levels of intercollegiate athletics administration. He comes to Marshall most recently from the University of Pittsburgh, where as deputy athletic director and chief operating officer he manages all revenue generation and external operations, primarily focused on strategic partnerships to help reduce expenses and supplement revenue streams. His areas of responsibility at Pitt include marketing and branding, media relations, fundraising, ticket operations, licensing, merchandising, game presentation, broadcast services and multimedia rights.
Prior to joining Pitt in 2017, Spears served Eastern Michigan University as deputy athletic director. In leading the EMU Athletics department’s external division, he had oversight of development, marketing, corporate partnership efforts, fan experience and media relations. He also assisted with the administration of the football program, was responsible for football scheduling and served for a time as interim athletic director.
Prior to EMU, Spears spent five years at Northern Illinois University (2009-14) as deputy director of athletics. There, he served as the lead administrator for the Huskies’ football team—including the nationally ranked 2012 squad that earned an Orange Bowl berth—as well as the men’s basketball, baseball, cross country, and track and field programs. Spears served as Northern Illinois’ acting director of athletics for nearly five months in 2013. During that time, the Huskies’ football program had record-breaking efforts in both season-tickets and ticket revenue when compared to prior years.
From 2003-09, Spears was an assistant athletic director at Southern Illinois University, where he had administrative oversight of compliance as well as student-athlete financial aid and eligibility. He was an assistant director of athletics for compliance at Harvard University from 2002-03.
Spears launched his collegiate athletics career as an assistant director of marketing at Long Beach State (1996-99). He then served as the Big Ten Minority Intern for Ohio State University, working in their athletic compliance office while he matriculated through the school’s Moritz College of Law. Spears graduated from the University of Washington in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He earned a master’s degree in public administration from California State University Long Beach in 1998 and his juris doctor from Ohio State in 2002.
He has been a member of the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association since 2003 and currently serves college football on the national level as a member of the College Football Playoff Advisory Committee. He formerly served as president of the National Association for Athletics Compliance and is an alumnus of the NCAA Pathway Program, which is intended to prepare participants to become directors of athletics or conference commissioners. Spears and his wife Julia have three children, Rainier, Kai and Skyla.