MSU's Hollis named top athletic director

Michigan State's Mark Hollis was named 2012 athletic director of the year at the Sports Business Awards, handed out Wednesday night in New York. The awards are presented by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily.

Hollis, who has served in the role since January 2008, was selected from five nominees, which also included Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon.

Hollis is one of the more progressive athletic directors in a major conference. He masterminded the Michigan State-North Carolina basketball game played on an aircraft carrier in San Diego last fall. Other big-ticket events he spearheaded in lesser roles included a Michigan State-Kentucky basketball game at Detroit's Ford Field and a Michigan State-Michigan hockey game at Spartan Stadium in 2001.

Michigan State's football program has excelled during Hollis' tenure, winning the Legends Division championship last fall. Hollis in October awarded coach Mark Dantonio a contract designed to keep Dantonio a "Spartan for life."

"It's very humbling to receive an honor like this," Hollis said in a prepared statement. "Individual awards are difficult to accept in higher education and athletics; however, they do recognize the innovation and teamwork necessary to achieve success. I value working with people at Michigan State University, the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA in providing educational opportunities for our student-athletes and engagement through sports for our alumni and supporters."

Hollis is very deserving of the honor. His creativity in growing the Michigan State brand resonates in the current college sports environment and in a league like the Big Ten.

Ohio State AD Gene Smith won the award in 2010. Other winners Wednesday included NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for sports executive of the year, the NHL's Boston Bruins for sports team of the year and, drumroll please, ESPN Digital Media for best in digital sports media.