NORMAN — Matt McMillen, Oklahoma's longtime assistant athletics director for football operations, announced Thursday that he is retiring from the university after 19 years in the role.
McMillen, who joined the OU football program before the 1999 season when Bob Stoops was hired as head coach, said the time is right to explore other opportunities.
"What a great ride the last 19 seasons have provided," said McMillen. "I am so appreciative for the lifetime of memories and the opportunity to work with so many great coaches and players. I'd especially like to thank Bob and Lincoln (Riley) for treating me so well, and Joe Castiglione and the OU administration, who I've always enjoyed working with.
"This was just the right time to pursue some new opportunities, and I'm really looking forward to the next adventure."
Known for his upbeat personality and affable demeanor, McMillen coordinated the OU football team's travel arrangements for all road games, and worked closely with OU's strength and conditioning, sports medicine, football video, equipment, field maintenance and secretarial staffs. He has also served as the football program's liaison with athletics administration and the communications, marketing, development, academic student life, game day operations and business offices, as well as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Touchdown Club and Sooner Sports Properties.
Stoops' right-hand man for 18 years, McMillen also serves as president of the HBC Champions Foundation (formerly the Bob Stoops Champions Foundation), which aims to help disadvantaged and ill children in the Norman and Oklahoma City areas.
"He was my best friend through these last 19 years at OU, a confidant, a guy I knew I could rely on. He brought so much to me and to my family in that regard."
"I knew when I called Matt about coming to OU that he was overqualified for the job, having worked as an associate AD at Kansas State for many years," said Stoops, who retired one year ago today as OU's all-time wins leader (190). "I really valued his understanding of athletics administration, and because of that I knew he would bring a lot to our program in terms of helping blend the football and administrative side of things.
"He was my best friend through these last 19 years at OU, a confidant, a guy I knew I could rely on. He brought so much to me and to my family in that regard. Matt's incredibly bright, has a terrific sense of humor and helped keep things light and fresh in our office through a lot of ups and downs. Carol and I thank Matt and his wife, Gina, for their commitment and dedication to the OU program and all they have contributed."
Riley explained how important McMillen has been to him since his arrival in Norman in the spring of 2015.
"Matt's been a huge help to me my whole time at OU, but especially this past year with the entire transition," said Riley. "He's been here for a long time, has seen so much success and has been a huge part of it. He's become a great friend and was a great partner here in the football office.
"He's a guy who could always put a smile on your face no matter the situation. He kept the mood great and really helped with staff morale; just did so many things that really went under the radar and that maybe a lot of people don't appreciate. We're going to miss having him around every day. He's a special guy with a great family and he's done a lot for OU."
Immediately prior to arriving at OU, McMillen oversaw areas of allied industry, sponsorship, advertising and trade shows for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the trade organization representing more than one million beef producers. From 1987 to '97, he served as K-State's associate athletics director for external affairs, coordinating the department's dealings in the areas of marketing, promotions and development. He was also responsible for securing $3.4 million in advertising revenues used to install a Sony JumboTron and three other scoreboards at K-State's stadium.
A Salina, Kan., native, McMillen graduated from K-State in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Gina, have a pair of sons, Alex and Nate, who are students at OU.