The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has announced the names of three finalists who have been invited to the campus for a series of interviews next week. The announcement was made by Dr. Debbie Ingram, chair of the search committee for the position.
Finalists for the position are:
- David Blackburn, Senior Associate Athletics Director, University of Tennessee
- Mike Buddie, Associate Athletics Director, Wake Forest University
- Lee Fowler, Director of Basketball Operations, SunBelt Conference
“The committee has been very pleased with the high level of interest in this position, and we believe we have three great finalists. Our committee includes representatives from the campus and the community, so many voices have been represented in this process. I believe the high caliber of candidates who applied for this job is a testament to the strength of our University and athletics programs,” said Ingram.
David Blackburn is currently serving as the Senior Associate Athletics Director at the University of Tennessee. He is a member of the Volunteers’ executive staff and is responsible for the overall leadership of the athletics department.
A 1990 graduate of the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in Education, Blackburn has more than two decades of experience in college athletics. He began his career at Tennessee in 1993 working with then-head football coach Phillip Fulmer and the football program in a variety of roles. He held the titles of Assistant Director of Compliance, Director of Football Operations, and Assistant Athletics Director for Football Operations.
In August of 2003, Blackburn made a transition into fundraising and became the Assistant Athletic Director for Development. During his tenure working in fundraising, the Volunteer Athletic Scholarship Fund saw record growths in all areas. Most noted were total athletic gifts more than doubling from $19.5 million in 2003 to over $41 million in 2007. Also, he helped secure an $84 million multi-media rights contract with Host Communications.
In 2007, Blackburn was promoted to Associate Athletic Director for Administration where he broadened his scope of athletic department management serving on then-Athletic Director Mike Hamilton’s senior management team. Included in that appointment were the oversight of the track and field program, the swimming and diving teams, facility operations, sports medicine, strength and conditioning, equipment operations, and event management.
Blackburn was also the athletic department liaison to the Thornton Center, Tennessee’s student-athlete academic support unit. He was appointed to participate in various search committees for head coaches and upper level departmental staff.
In 2008, Blackburn was named Senior Associate Athletics Director for Administration. He gained the role of directly overseeing the football program as its senior-level administrator. There he has been able to provide leadership, direction, and stability to the football program. He has oversight of football operations and its budget, non-conference scheduling, coaches’ contracts, and the design and construction of Tennessee’s new $48 million football training center.
A native of Loudon, Tennessee, Blackburn is married to the former Andrea Radel of Albion, Michigan. They have two daughters, Emma and Charlee.
Mike Buddie is the Associate Athletics Director for Administration and Development at Wake Forest University. A 1993 graduate of WFU with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Buddie spent 13 years as a professional baseball player. He had stints in the Major Leagues with both the New York Yankees (1998-99) and the Milwaukee Brewers (2000-03) before returning to his alma mater in 2005.
His primary duty is serving as a major gift fund raiser, but Buddie also assists the Demon Deacons Athletics Director with special projects, key fund raising initiatives, contract negotiations, conference expansion, personnel decisions and development of the Wake Forest Athletics Department Strategic Plan.
In his current role, Buddie oversees a number of different areas. He serves as the sport administrator for baseball, women’s soccer and men’s and women’s golf squads, and works with the football and men’s basketball programs. He also supervises the Wake Forest Golf Academy, the Wake Forest Tennis Club, Winston Open ATP Tennis event staff, facilities, Capital Project Construction Team and the Operations Department.
Buddie oversaw the purchase and renovation of the $12 million Wake Forest Baseball Park, raising the needed funds to proceed with the project. During his time in athletics fundraising, the department has reached its highest goals in school history, increasing dollars raised by over 45%.
Buddie was a three-year letter winner as a pitcher on the Demon Deacon baseball team. He still holds the program’s single-season record for strikeouts with 138 in 1992. He was drafted by the New York Yankees in the fourth round of the 1992 MLB Draft. He spent five seasons in the major leagues, pitching in 87 games from 1998-2002. He was a member of the Yankees’ 1998 World Series championship squad. Buddie spent two seasons with the Yankees and three with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Buddie resides in Advance, North Carolina, with wife, Traci, and their two children, Zachary (11) and Zoe (8).
Lee Fowler is a veteran administrator who has served as Director of Athletics at both North Carolina State (2000-10) and Middle Tennessee (1994-2000). The 2010 Southeast Regional Athletics Director of the Year, he is currently serving as the Director of Basketball Operations with the Sun Belt Conference. He also was chair of the 2002 NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee.
During his tenure at North Carolina State, Fowler oversaw the completion of a $133 million building campaign. The most notable was the $98 million improvements to Carter-Finley Stadium, including the Murphy Center that houses the football program and Vaughn Towers that offers luxury seating.
Fowler also focused on fundraising for the entire athletics program, increasing total giving by nearly $10 million from 2000 to 2008. He made NCSU one of only four schools to reach the 20,000 giving member plateau.
Fowler also oversaw the construction and renovation of new multiple sports medicine facilities, locker rooms, multiple strength training facilities, student-athlete lounge area, and expanded support services that included video, marketing and media relations.
As the Director of Athletics at Middle Tennessee, Fowler directed a move from Division I-AA in football to Division I-A in 1999. He also completely restructured the athletics program to comply with all NCAA compliance rules.
His efforts at MTSU began with a million dollar capital campaign to fund the expansion of Floyd Stadium to 30,788 seats. During his tenure, MTSU won 21 Ohio Valley Conference Championships, had 17 NCAA Tournament appearances and won the All-Sports Trophy five years in a row.
A 1974 graduate of Vanderbilt University, Fowler was a standout student-athlete on the Commodores’ 1974 Southeastern Conference Champion basketball team. He was an assistant coach at Vanderbilt from 1974-78.
He also earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Memphis in 1986 while working as an assistant basketball coach from 1979-86. He started his work in athletics administration with the Tigers, serving as the Associate Athletics Director and Director of the Tiger Club from 1986-94.
A native of Columbia, Tennessee, Fowler is married to the former Carol Murray of St. Clair Shores, Michigan. The couple has three daughters, Ashley, Kristin and Carlee, and two granddaughters.