Charlotte 49ers Director of Athletics Judy Rose is one of five finalists for the 2013 Sports Business Journal Athletic Director of the Year. The other finalists are Mike Alden, University of Missouri, Greg Byrne, University of Arizona, Kevin White, Duke University and Scott Woodward, University of Washington. Rose is the lone finalist that does not come from a 2013 BCS conference. The award will be presented at the SBJ’s Sports Business Awards Ceremony at The New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square on May 21, 2014.
One of the most respected collegiate Directors of Athletics in the country, Rose took the Charlotte 49ers program to new ground in 2013. The memorable year included the unveiling of the 49ers first NCAA Division I football team, the opening of a spectacular 15,314-seat, on-campus football stadium and the successful move to Conference USA, which lands the 49ers on the fastest possible track to compete in an FBS Conference.
The year saw record increases in fundraising, standing-room only capacity crowds for the start-up football program, huge jumps in brand awareness, marketing revenue and social media followers, and the creation of a local TV partnership in the nation’s 25th–ranked market. Named a “Game-Changer” by the Sports Business Journal, a Lifetime Achievement Award Winner by the Charlotte Business Journal and invited as a guest on CBS This Morning’s national morning show (Jan. 10, 2014 appearance), the former NACDA President and the first woman selected to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee continued to break new ground for the 49ers.
Along the way, the 49ers continued to run the same first-class program for which it and Rose have become known with a consistent goal of producing athletic and academic excellence while prioritizing a culture of giving back to the community.
Over 2013-14, the 49ers marketing firm, IMG College, reported that the Charlotte 49ers had recorded the largest percentage increase of any property in the history of IMG College, with gross revenues tripling over the previous fiscal year.
Likewise, total giving to the 49ers Athletic Foundation doubled to over $13.5 million while unrestricted donations to the Annual Giving Campaign rose 56% to over $1.17 million.
Brand awareness is certainly on the rise as well.
This past year, Rose announced a partnership with WCCB Charlotte TV, an independent station affiliated with the CW in Charlotte, which produced and televised seven football games and another five men’s and women’s basketball games. Landing those broadcasts on a mainstream station in the country’s 25th media market was a welcome addition for 49ers fans.
The move to Conference USA also enhanced the 49ers television package. In addition to the local broadcasts, 12 men’s basketball games and two women’s basketball games were included in the conference’s television packages. The previous year, six men’s and women’s basketball games were included in the conference package.
The 49ers surpassed 1 million unique visitors to the 49ers official athletics web site, Charlotte49ers.com, during the 2013 calendar year, an increase of 33% over the previous year. Likewise, the 49ers Facebook page followers grew by 43% in 2013 and the 49ers twitter site cleared 10,000 followers in 2013 and completed the year with over 12,000.
While donations and support of the athletic department continued to rise in leaps and bounds, the 49ers outreach to the community has also grown. In the 2012-13 academic year, the 49ers cleared the 3,000-hour mark, donating 3,213.25 hours of community service to various charitable organizations in and around the Charlotte region. In fact, the 49ers volleyball team, which has spearheaded Dig Pink’s National Campaign to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer Research, has been the nation’s leading fundraiser for two of the last four years and raised nearly $10,000 for the program, this year. In addition to several of the on-going community service projects, which include hosting blood drives, reading at elementary schools, visiting children’s hospitals and hosting the Fall Stroll for Epilepsy, 49ers student-athletes from several sports volunteered in 2013 with the Miracle League to provide children with special needs the opportunity to play the game of baseball.
Community Service has been a priority of the 49ers athletic department under Rose because she believes in giving back to the community that is supportive of the 49ers program. She also believes in stressing academic excellence and over the years has taken large steps to improve the academic services provided to 49ers student-athletes. This past year, the 49ers athletic department posted a cumulative GPA of over 3.0 for the seventh straight year.
Of course, success on the playing field is tantamount to the success of any athletic program. In 2013, the 49ers golf and men’s soccer programs advanced to the NCAA Tournament while the track and field program sent individuals to the NCAA Regionals and Nationals. In addition, the men’s and women’s basketball programs reached the NIT. The men’s team posted 20 wins for the first time since 2008 and the women’s team reached post-season for the 11th straight season. The men also defeated #14 Michigan to win the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic. In 2013, the 49ers crowned league champions in baseball, golf, women’s indoor track, women’s outdoor track and men’s soccer and a division champion in women’s soccer. The 49ers start-up football program posted its first-ever FCS Top 25 win when it defeated #24 Gardner-Webb to become one of the few first-year programs to boast a top 25 win.