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AKRON, Ohio–Michael J. Thomas has been named Director of Athletics at The University of Akron. Thomas is leaving the University of Virginia to assume his new responsibilities at Akron. He has been a member of the Virginia athletic department staff since 1993 and most recently was associate director of athletics for programs, facilities and operations.

Thomas was formally introduced to the University of Akron community and the media during a press conference on Tuesday (Oct. 10) in the James A. Rhodes Arena on the Akron campus. He has signed a multi-year contract to the year 2005.

A Pueblo, Colo., native, Thomas emerged as the selection following an extensive national search. He has an extensive background in intercollegiate athletics and has successfully handled a wide range of responsibilities at Virginia. As part of Virginia’s senior management team, Thomas’ duties, in part, included supervising eight varsity programs and managing a budget of more than $5 million.

Thomas, 40, also played an important role in Virginia’s football stadium expansion and fundraising committee, as well as serving on committees on gender equity, and financial and strategic planning.

“I’d like to thank President Luis Proenza, Dean Richard Aynes, the search committee chairman, as well as the other members of the committee for providing me with this tremendous professional opportunity to lead The University of Akron athletic department,” Thomas said. “University of Akron athletics has a proud history. I look forward to building upon that history and positioning UA athletics to compete at the highest level as we enter the new millennium.”

University of Akron President Luis M. Proenza said that Thomas brings a wealth of talent to The University of Akron.

“We’re delighted that our national search has brought forward someone with Michael Thomas’ experience, excitement and sense of vision for the future,” Proenza said. “We look forward to his leading our athletic program to increased levels of recognition and success, including many MAC and NCAA records.”

University of Virginia Athletic Director Terry Holland also lauded Thomas for his career success.

“Mike Thomas is one of the very best young athletic administrators in Division I today,” Holland said. “Our staff members, and particularly our coaches, will miss him greatly, although we all wish him well as the athletic director at Akron. He will do an outstanding job in every area. Mike has been a huge part of our success in moving up the Sears Cup rankings, and he and his family have been great friends on a personal level.”

Thomas takes the helm of an athletic program with 18 varsity sports, featuring nearly 340 student-athletes. Akron joined the Mid-American Conference in 1992.

Before joining the staff of the Virginia athletic department, Thomas held the position of assistant director of athletics at the University of Denver.

During his tenure at Virginia, Thomas was active in community and civic events. He served as a member of the Charlottesville Catholic School Board of Directors, the Charlottesville Catholic School Development committee and served as a YMCA youth basketball coach.

Thomas participates in several intercollegiate athletic organizations including the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, the Collegiate Athletic Business Managers Association, and the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association.

Thomas and his wife, Jenifer, have four children, Vince (15), Joey (11), Mick (9) and Meredith (5). Thomas received a master’s degree in athletics administration from Western Illinois University in 1986 and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Colorado State University in 1983.

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