Introducing Dr. Brandon Martin

Photos by Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

New Athletic Director of UMKC

The University of Missouri-Kansas City launched a national search in September to find a proven leader who could transform its Division I athletics program, one who could continue its long history of success in developing scholar-athletes while rallying more wins, greater fan support and increased revenue. UMKC announced its pick: Brandon Martin, Ph.D.

“Brandon Martin is, first and foremost, an educator. That’s how it should be. He was a true scholar-athlete as a basketball player at the University of Southern California, and he will lead true scholar-athletes at UMKC,” said Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal. “He is coming here to build a tradition that our campus and community can rally around with enthusiasm and pride, and I am confident that he will succeed.”

Martin most recently served as athletic director for California State University, Northridge. His history as a scholar-athlete dates even farther back, to when he played basketball at the University of Southern California and earned a Bachelor of Science, Master of Education and Doctor of Education there. He received the Outstanding Dissertation of the Year from the USC Rossier School of Education, “A Phenomenological Study of Academically Driven African American Male Student-Athletes at Highly Selective Division I Universities.”

Martin served as a faculty member at the Division I schools where he also was an athletics department leader, at USC and the University of Oklahoma, where he hired men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger. He has presented more than 40 papers, symposia and workshops at national higher education conferences. In 2014, Martin was appointed to the NCAA Committee on Academics.

“I always had a passion for education. I always knew that I would become a teacher,” Martin said. “I wanted to work in college athletics, but I wanted to be connected to the true fabric and true mission of a university. I knew that I needed a terminal degree.”

Martin served as athletics director at CSUN, from 2013 to earlier this year. While at that Division I program he:

  • Oversaw a $15.8 million operating budget, 19 sports and 350 student-athletes
  • Raised $1 million in his first 100 days
  • Increased athletics donations by 453 percent
  • Increased student attendance at men’s basketball games by 71 percent
  • Was named one of Los Angeles’ 100 most influential African-Americans

Martin’s goals for UMKC Athletics are straightforward: Become a Top 100 Division I program. Win Western Athletic Conference championships and earn NCAA tournament berths. Provide a first-rate campus life experience for scholar-athletes while producing graduates who not only earn degrees but develop as leaders for campus and community.

UMKC won two WAC regular season championships last year, three WAC post-season championships and contributed more than 2,000 community service hours to the Kansas City area. UMKC student-athletes also excel academically, carrying an average 3.3 GPA.

Martin takes the helm of UMKC Athletics on Dec. 3, 2018. He will be joined by his wife, Rosemary, and their children Germany, Riley and Brandon Jr. He is excited about his future at UMKC and in the community.

“Kansas City is a great sport town, so we just have to get people engaged,” said Martin, who as a senior associate athletics director at Oklahoma made annual trips to Kansas City for the Big 12 basketball tournament. “There’s really no ceiling on how great we can become.”

What they’re saying about Brandon Martin:

UMKC made a tremendous hire. Dr. Martin understands the business of college sports while maintaining genuine care for student-athletes. It’s a rare mix. Go ‘Roos.”

-Greg Moore, baseball coach, California State University, Northridge

“It was a joy to work alongside Dr. Martin as a colleague in the Big West Conference. He’s an authentic communicator who has proven to be impactful in leading coaches, staff, student-athletes and key stakeholders. Brandon will no doubt build and advance UMKC’s legacy.”

-Tamica Smith Jones, athletics director, University of California, Riverside

“Dr. Martin is a rising star in our industry. His tenure at CSUN was nothing short of extraordinary. His integrity and core values allowed him to set a standard of excellence at CSUN and within the Big West Conference. UMKC made a fine choice in hiring Brandon Martin.”

Dennis Farrell, commissioner, Big West Conference

“Brandon Martin is an excellent choice. He is a highly passionate and extremely capable administrator who genuinely cares about student-athletes and their entire experience – from athletics to academics. In Brandon, the Kangaroos are getting a leader who will wholeheartedly dedicate himself to getting positive results.”

Dan Guerrero, director of athletics, UCLA

“Brandon has an unwavering focus on the success of the student-athletes in the classroom and on the fields of play. He will work with the administration, coaches, staff and student-athletes to drive championship performance in sports, academics and in their personal growth.”

Warde Manuel, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics, University of Michigan 

“Dr. Martin’s knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for his work was evident in the interview process. I am excited to work closely with Brandon to continue the forward momentum of Roos athletics.”

-Kathy Nelson, president and CEO, Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation

“I’m grateful for the time Dr. Brandon Martin served as an excellent member of my senior leadership team here at Oklahoma. UMKC is getting a dynamic leader but an even better person. He possesses the ability to convey a vision, create energy, collaborate with stakeholders and inspire a culture of integrity and success with the focus on student-athletes. Brandon will connect and engage with everyone who can support the Roos.”

-Joseph R. Castiglione Sr., athletics director, University of Oklahoma

“Dr. Martin not only brings several years of administrative experience, but he also brings tremendous scholarly expertise. He conducts research, publishes studies, and presents at an impressive array of national conferences. Brandon also has significant teaching experience. This is very rare for an athletics director. The UMKC faculty will respect him and appreciate the intellectual leadership he brings to the University and its athletics department.”

Shaun R. Harper, provost professor and USC Race and Equity Center executive director, University of Southern California 

“Dr. Brandon Martin is the ideal practitioner-scholar in higher education. He will do transformative things within UMKC Athletics and the campus community.”

C. Keith Harrison, associate professor, DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program, University of Central Florida

“UMKC has hired an outstanding person to lead their athletics program. Dr. Martin has all of the educational preparation and practical experience to excel. I look forward to working with Brandon and watching his leadership.”

Bob Bowlsby, commissioner, Big 12 Conference

| Article by John Martellaro, Strategic Marketing and Communications


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