Athletics Campus News

Brooks named finalist for Athletic Director of the Year

University of Georgia Director of Athletics Josh Brooks speaks at the podium during the Butts-Mehre Dedication Ceremony. (Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

University of Georgia J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks has been named one of six finalists for the 2023 Sports Business Journal’s Athletic Director of the Year honor, the SBJ announced Monday.

The annual Sports Business Awards honor excellence in sports business. During the awards ceremony, which is set to take place on Wed., May 24 at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square, each nominee will be recognized, and winners of each category will be announced.

“This is a tremendous honor for our entire athletic department,” Brooks said. “This is not about me — it’s about our phenomenal staff and student-athletes who have committed to making Georgia Athletics the best. Our mission is to graduate student-athletes, support them during their time here and, of course, win championships. I want to thank the Sports Business Journal for recognizing our entire athletic staff and student-athletes.”

At the time of his hiring in 2021, Brooks was the youngest athletic director among Power Five schools. In just two years, he has guided Georgia Athletics through remarkable success.

Georgia won back-to-back College Football Playoff national championships in 2021 and 2022, the 2021 national title in Equestrian, 2021 SEC crown in women’s tennis and 2022 SEC championship in football. Recently, the men’s track and field team set a new school record with a No. 2 finish at the NCAA National Indoor Championships, while the women earned a fifth-place mark.

This past fall, the women’s soccer and volleyball programs made history as both teams earned bids to their respective NCAA tournaments in the same year for the first time ever, each advancing to the second round. Bulldog student-athletes also excelled academically, setting the UGA record with a 3.22 GPA in the fall of 2022.

The Georgia Bulldog Club raised a record total of $86.4 million last year, and through February, 2023, fundraising is pacing $6.4 million ahead of the department’s all-time high.

Brooks’ administration has placed an emphasis on student-athlete experience. UGA was one of the first athletic programs to announce a comprehensive Name, Image, and Likeness program, which provides wide-ranging education, multi-media management tools and brand-building training.

Brooks has made significant coaching hires, including a pair of national champions in track and field’s Caryl Smith Gilbert and soccer’s Keidane McAlpine. Tony Baldwin took over the softball program in summer 2021, while Stefanie Williams Moreno and Neil Versfeld were named head women’s and men’s swimming and diving coaches. Volleyball coach Tom Black was given a contract extension after being named the 2022 SEC Coach of the Year.

Brooks also hired two prominent coaches to lead the Georgia Basketball programs. Mike White, who has averaged 22 wins per season in 11 years, was named head men’s basketball coach on March 13, 2022. Shortly after, Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, whose teams have won 16 conference titles in 17 seasons, was tabbed to lead the Georgia women’s basketball program.

Under his leadership, Georgia rebranded the mental health and performance department, bringing in a new full-time director and an additional clinical counselor as well as adding sports psychology services for every team.

During his time leading Georgia Athletics, Brooks has spearheaded multiple facility projects that will continue to enhance the fan and student-athlete experience.  

The Bulldogs finished 10th in the 2021 Learfield Directors’ Cup, and19th in 2022, becoming one of just nine schools to post top-25 finishes in the Directors’ Cup every year during the 2000s. Georgia set a new school record with 200 points and a No. 27 national ranking in the Directors’ Cup at the conclusion of this past fall athletics season.