Dr. Jim Jarrett served as the Athletic Director at Old Dominion University for the past 40 years from 1967 to his retirement in June of 2010.
Jarrett came to Old Dominion in 1967 as an associate professor in Health and Physical Education and was named athletic director in the spring of 1970, replacing Bud Metheny. Under his leadership, Old Dominion teams have won 28 championships, and maintained a 91 per cent exhausted graduation rate.
"There have been many successes for our program over my 40 years, but significant ones for me personally include the graduation rate of our student-athletes, national championships, our overall Division I success, and leadership role in women's athletics, the development of our athletic venues and the ODU Sports Hall of Fame, our long standing rivalry in women's basketball with Pat Summitt and the Tennessee Lady Vols and the accomplishments of Beth Anders and our field hockey program," says Jarrett.
Old Dominion was competing on the NCAA Division II level when Jarrett took the reigns in 1970, winning the school's first national crown in 1975 when the men's basketball team defeated New Orleans for the title. The following year the Monarch athletic program made the leap to NCAA Division I status and quickly made a name for itself as a member of the ECAC South Conference.
His "selective excellence" philosophy of fielding teams in sports where ODU could be nationally competitive played a huge role in the program's success. The Monarchs athletic program has won the Virginia Sports Information Directors Cup a record 12 times for posting the highest, collective team winning percentage among all of the state's NCAA Division I universities.
"I will have more to say later about the contributions of specific athletic staff, University and community leaders to Monarch's athletic success, but it is important to note that many, many people have played a significant role in our success during my tenure," said Jarrett.
Jarrett was a pioneer on intercollegiate women's athletes, becoming one of the first athletic directors in the nation to provide scholarships to female student athletes in 1974. Of the 28 national team titles ODU has won during his tenure, 18 of those have been achieved by women's teams, with three in women's basketball, nine in field hockey, and six in women's sailing. ODU hosted the first NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four in 1982 and repeated in 1983, in addition to hosting three NCAA field hockey national tournaments and two national sailing championships. The Lady Monarchs led the nation in women's basketball attendance from 1978-1983, set an NCAA record 17 straight conference championship streak from 1992-2008 and the field hockey program earned a record six Honda Award winners (national player of the year) during his tenure.
Old Dominion's athletic facilities grew from housing all of its sport programs in the ODU Field house, which opened in his first year as athletic director, to its current status as one of the most comprehensive and impressive athletic physical plants in the nation. Under Jarrett's leadership, the Bud Metheny Baseball stadium, ODU sailing center and dock, Folkes-Stevens Indoor Tennis Center, the ODU soccer stadium and office complex, the Athletic Administration Building and wrestling addition, Powhatan Sports Complex, Lambert's Point golf course - home to ODU men's and women's golf, and Foreman Field refurbishments were all added as athletic venues. The ODU boat house, home to the University women's rowing team, will be opened in 2010.
Jarrett played a key role in the growth of the Big Blue Club, the fund raising arm of athletics. The program was raising $5,000 a year when Jarrett took the reigns in 1970, with less than 50 members. Currently, the Big Blue Club has grown to over 1700 members, contributing more than $4 million annually for athletic scholarships, and an additional $22 million in endowments.
He was a charter member of the NCAA Women's Basketball Committee, serving from 1981-1989. He also served as president of the CAA, the Sun Belt Conference and Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, and was instrumental in the creation of the ODU Sports Hall of Fame in 1980. He has been honored many times throughout the years for his leadership, including being named the NACDA Southeast regional Athletic Director of the Year, the Man of the Year by the Norfolk Sports Club, the Collegiate Director of the Year by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and he was recognized in 2007 with a Lifetime Achievement award by NACDA. In 2005, Jarrett was recognized with the Distinguished Service award by VaSID, the Virginia Sports Information Directors' Association. He will be inducted into the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame in October.
"During my 40 years as Director of Athletics at Old Dominion University, the Board of Visitors and University administrative leaders have provided the support and financial resources needed for us to successfully compete in Division I of the NCAA," Jarrett remarks.
"A quality program requires outstanding facilities, fully funded scholarships and quality, experienced coaches. The selective excellence approach at Old Dominion provided eight sports for men and eight sports for women with fully funded scholarships, quality coaches and tremendous facilities that continue to get better in order to keep up with the competition and changing facility needs.
"The addition of football and crew and soon to be added softball and volleyball has and will stretch the selective excellence concept. I challenge our future leaders to meet these needs without reducing current program funding," adds Jarrett. "I take great pride in the Monarch's success and appreciate the contributions that our many alumni and fans, the student body, and our Big Blue Club have provided toward winning, graduation and championships."
Jarrett, a native of Decatur, IL, earned his undergraduate and master's degrees in physical education from Southern Illinois (Carbondale), and a doctorate in higher education from Florida State University. An avid tennis player for many years, he and his wife Sugie, remain active in the Hampton Roads tennis scene.
"Jim Jarrett is highly-respected by Old Dominion University fans and the collegiate athletic community as a whole," ODU President John R. Broderick noted. "His creation and leadership of a well-regarded and successful Division I athletic program at Old Dominion stands as a model for programs across the country. His commitment to excellence created nationally competitive teams, provided exciting and fun athletic events for fans, and led to the recruitment of student-athletes who excelled in both the athletic arena and the classroom. Old Dominion boasts a first-class athletic program thanks, in large part, to the tireless efforts of Jim Jarrett."