Senior Administrators

Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics

Mike O'BrienMike O'Brien

Now in his 16th year as vice-president and athletic director at the University of Toledo, Mike O’Brien has helped shape the UToledo Athletics program into one of the very best in the Mid-American Conference. Whether embarking on ambitious capital projects or nurturing the athletic and academic achievements of UToledo’s student-athletes, O’Brien has left a legacy of success that few can match.

O’Brien, who has the second-longest tenure among MAC athletic directors, received national recognition for his accomplishments from the National Association of College Directors of Athletics at the NACDA Convention in June of 2012 when he was named the Football Bowl Subdivision Northeast Region Athletic Director of the Year. Just a few months later, O’Brien accepted the 2011-12 Cartwright Award, given annually to the MAC athletic program with the highest degree of excellence in academics, athletics and citizenship.

Perhaps the best word to describe O’Brien is “builder.” He has been an instrumental force in initiating some of the most ambitious construction schedules in school history. No fewer than five major projects have been completed during O’Brien’s reign, as well as numerous smaller ones, most recently renovation projects at the Glass Bowl and Savage Arena in 2016.

O’Brien has also been a builder in an even more important sense. He has guided the Rockets into position as one of the strongest programs in the Mid-American Conference, both on the field and in the classroom. The Rockets have won or shared 30 league titles in nine different sports under O’Brien’s watch. And in the classroom, O’Brien’s emphasis on academics has led to record-breaking report cards for the department.

The building boom of capital projects under O’Brien’s reign began shortly after his arrival at UToledo in 2002 and has never relented.

O’Brien secured significant funding for the Athletics capital campaign for the new Charles A. Sullivan Athletic Complex and Savage Arena renovation project, including a $5 million gift from Chuck and Jackie Sullivan.  The $30 million facility, which debuted on Dec. 3, 2008, can rightfully claim to be one of the premier facilities of its kind in the country. 2010 saw the completion of the Fetterman Training Center, a 90,400 square-foot indoor multi-sport practice facility that features a 100-yard Field Turf playing surface, a regulation basketball/volleyball court, sprinting lanes and a long jump pit for track, a golf practice area and new golf locker rooms.

In August of 2014, a $5.5 million renovation of the Larimer Athletic Complex was completed. Highlights of the renovation include an upgraded academic center that is used by all student-athletes; an enhanced locker room area; a larger, more modern weight room; renovated offices; and new coaches’ meeting rooms.  In 2016, a Savage Arena expansion created new offices for the men’s and women’s basketball programs, as well as a significant increase in the size of the Joe Grogan Room. Also in 2016, a renovation project at the Glass Bowl updated concessions, restrooms and other fan amenities on the east side of the stadium.

O’Brien’s term as athletic director has been more than just bricks and mortar. In the classroom, UToledo has produced overall department grade-point averages above a 3.2 in each of the past five semesters, and above a 3.1 in the past 17 consecutive semesters. In the 2017 spring semester, UToledo student-athletes achieved a combined GPA of 3.270, the highest mark for the Rocket athletic program. UToledo has won the Mid-American Conference Institutional Academic Achievement Award, presented annually to the school with the highest grade point average, in four of the last six years.                                   

Among O’Brien’s other accomplishments are adding Ohio State, Miami (FL), Colorado, Purdue, Arizona, Missouri, Navy, Fresno State, Boise State, BYU, Iowa State, Colorado State and Cincinnati to the home football schedule.

Previous to his appointment at UToledo, O’Brien worked at four universities, Kansas State (associate A.D., 1997-2001), Lamar (athletic director, 1993-97), Pittsburgh (director of development 1989-93) and Ball State (marketing and development, 1986-89).

A native of Iowa City, Iowa, O’Brien earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Missouri Valley College in 1975, and has master’s degrees in education from Wisconsin-River Falls in 1982 and in sports management from Western Illinois in 1986. Prior to his administrative career, O’Brien was an assistant basketball coach at three different schools from 1982-1986.

O’Brien and his wife Michelle have a son Jack.

Mike O'Brien
Savage Hall

Room 1116 Mail Stop 302
Phone: 419.530.4987
Fax: 419.530.8429

Rebecca Lugo
Executive Assistant 
Phone: 419.530.5297 
Fax: 419.530.8429

Last Updated: 2/27/20