Rice hires Tommy McClelland from Vanderbilt as new AD

Rice University has hired Vanderbilt deputy athletic director Tommy McClelland to be its next athletic director, the school announced Sunday.

McClelland, who will take over the role Aug. 14, is joining Rice with significant experience in helping to fundraise and build facilities at a high-end academic school. He has nearly 13 years of experience as a Division I athletic director. Rice is seeking to be more competitive athletically under new President Reginald DesRoches, who previously served as the faculty athletics representative at Georgia Tech.

McClelland will take over for former athletic director Joe Karlgaard, who left last month for the private sector.

Part of the attraction of McClelland to Rice officials came from his fundraising and oversight of the nearly $700 million in new facilities being constructed at Vanderbilt. As the deputy athletic director overseeing external affairs and revenue generation, McClelland played a big role in fundraising and planning the projects, which were spearheaded by athletic director Candice Storey Lee.

With Rice entering the American Athletic Conference this season, the school is aiming for its athletic department to better fit its high-end academic image. Much of that will start with tapping into Rice's strong alumni base with fundraising, a challenge similar to the one McClelland faced at Vanderbilt.

Before Vanderbilt, McClelland served as the athletic director at Louisiana Tech from 2013 to 2020 and was viewed as one of the bright young ADs in the country. Louisiana Tech won six straight bowl games during his time there.

Prior to that, he had been the athletic director at McNeese State, a role he took over on an interim basis at age 25 in 2008. He was elevated to the role permanently a year later. Over his time as a head athletic director, McClelland helped mentor two prominent ADs, FAU's Brian White and Stephen F. Austin's Ryan Ivey.