NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma's Michael Alford was named associate vice president and athletics director at Central Michigan University on Monday morning. Alford has spent the last 4 1/2 years as OU's senior associate athletics director for development.
In his 22nd year working in intercollegiate athletics and professional sports, Alford joined OU in November 2012. Prior to arriving in Norman, he worked for the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, serving as senior director of corporate partnerships and sales since 2008. He was also the general manager of Crimson Tide Sports Marketing at the University of Alabama from 2004 to 2008, and has worked for ESPN, the University of Southern California, the Cincinnati Bengals and the University of Cincinnati.
"I've been fortunate to have a broad-based career with championship organizations, and I've had the chance to work for the very best people," said the 47-year-old Alford. "Joe Castiglione here at Oklahoma is such a natural leader, and Mal Moore at Alabama is somebody I often emulate. My mentors taught me a lot about entrepreneurship, negotiations and building a championship culture."
"I've been fortunate to have a broad-based career with championship organizations, and I've had the chance to work for the very best people."
At OU, Alford has overseen the ongoing efforts of the Sooner Club, the principal fund-raising arm of OU Athletics. The University of Oklahoma Athletics Department is one of only a handful of entirely self-supporting athletics programs in the nation, meaning OU receives no state funds and does not rely on any student fees.
Under Alford's leadership, the Sooner Club set annual giving records for donations in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 while membership has increased to an all-time high of more than 12,000 members. He also established the Sooner Club's "Young Alumni" program to increase ticket sales and enhance membership, as that group continues to help talented student-athletes receive a world-class education while competing at an elite level in the athletic arena.
In addition, Alford's team has coordinated capital campaigns and other special projects, ensuring that the continued generosity of donors helps OU maintain its standard as a model for other athletics departments across the country. Most notably, he has coordinated the capital campaign for a renovation and modernization of Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
A myriad of other administrative roles also fall under Alford's purview at OU. He directs the efforts of the Varsity "O" Association, engaging former Oklahoma student-athletes as lifelong ambassadors for their alma mater. Alford also serves as the sport administrator for men's basketball, as well as men's and women's tennis.
"Michael will bring a great deal of energy and passion while building meaningful relationships for Central Michigan University," said Joe Castiglione, OU's vice president and director of athletics. "He's skilled and uniquely qualified, but most of all, he will make the best and right decisions centered around core values, the quality of the student-athlete experience and the vast Chippewa family he now represents."
At Central Michigan, Alford replaces Dave Heeke, who is now the vice president of athletics at the University of Arizona. Alford's first official day at CMU will be July 3.
Alford and his wife, Laura, have three daughters: Audrey, Ashley and Anna Leigh. Audrey will be a junior on next year's OU volleyball team.
Castiglione said a search to replace Alford at OU will begin immediately.