National Football Foundation Honors Michigan State AD


The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced that Michigan State University Athletics Director Mark Hollis has been named the 2015 recipient of the NFF John L. Toner Award. Presented annually by the NFF, the Toner Award recognizes an athletics director who has demonstrated superior administrative abilities and shown outstanding dedication to college athletics and particularly college football.

"Under Mark's guidance, Michigan State has continued to excel both on and off the field," said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. "Since Hollis took over in 2008, the Spartans football program has achieved national prominence and the athletics department has seen substantial growth overall. His accomplishments place him at the forefront of his profession and make him truly worthy of this prestigious honor."

A 1985 Michigan State graduate, Hollis returned to his alma mater in 1995. Since then, he has been a critical component of the athletic department executive management staff, helping guide the department through short- and long-range plans. Officially named athletics director by Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon in 2008, Hollis made an immediate impact on Spartan Athletics. His well-rounded background has led to his knowledge of all areas within an athletics department, including marketing, financial administration, television negotiations, fund-raising, game operations, facility management, personnel policy, corporate interaction, sports management and public relations.

Prior to his official appointment as athletics director, Hollis spearheaded the effort to hire Mark Dantonio as football coach, which has resulted in a school-record eight consecutive bowl appearances and two Big Ten Championships (2010, 2013). In 2014, Michigan State won 11 games for the fourth time in five seasons, finishing with a thrilling 42-41 victory over Big 12 Co-Champion Baylor in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. In 2013, the Spartans enjoyed their winningest season ever (13-1) after defeating Pac-12 Champion Stanford in the 100th Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO. Three Spartans have been recognized as NFF National Scholar-Athletes under Hollis' leadership, including quarterback Kirk Cousins in 2011, linebacker Max Bullough in 2013 and punter Mike Sadler in 2014.

Spartan athletic facilities have been upgraded at an unprecedented rate under Hollis, including more than $100 million in renovations at Spartan Stadium. A $24.5 million project to the north end of stadium was completed in August 2014 that features a two-story, 50,000-square-foot addition as well as an entrance plaza, renovated gates and additional restrooms and concessions. The building includes new locker rooms for teams, coaches and officials, a media center, and an engagement center for all varsity sports. Prior to the 2012 season, $10 million scoreboards, totaling 13,300-square-feet, were installed in the north and south end zones, giving Michigan State one of the top video board systems in the nation.

Since Hollis' official appointment as athletics director, Spartan teams have won 27 Big Ten Championships and one NCAA Championship (women's cross country, 2014), appeared in three Final Fours and seven bowl games. Individually, 271 student-athletes earned All-Big Ten honors across all sports in the 2014-15 academic year. The graduation success rate under Hollis is an impressive 87 percent.

For nine consecutive semesters, Spartan student-athletes have posted better than a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Nearly 400 student-athletes (378) posted a cumulative GPA above 3.0 in the spring semester of 2015, marking the highest total in the history of the department for the spring, and a record 18 teams also reached that mark. The spring semester of 2015 also saw Spartan student-athletes compile the highest cumulative grade-point average in program history at 3.0791.

He is credited with developing some of college athletics' most innovative events, including the first basketball game to be played on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. His other credits include the 2003 "BasketBowl" between Michigan State and Kentucky at Detroit's Ford Field, establishing the concept of basketball teams playing in football stadiums, which has now been used in the last seven NCAA Final Fours. One of Hollis' major goals upon becoming athletics director was accomplished in 2010 when he unveiled the new brand and identity program for the athletics department. All of Michigan State's uniforms now incorporate consistent use of colors, logos, lettering and numerals along with standardization for logos.

Prior to returning to Michigan State, Hollis served as the assistant commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference and as an assistant and associate athletics director at the University of Pittsburgh. He was named the 2012 Athletics Director of the Year by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal/Daily. Hollis earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in communication from Michigan State in 1985, where he served as a basketball team manager under Jud Heathcote. In 1992, he earned his MBA from the University of Colorado. He and his wife Nancy, have a daughter, Katy, and two sons, T.R. and Michael.

Hollis will be honored at the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 8 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Hollis will accept his award alongside the recipients of the other NFF Major Award, including Jim Hawthorne, the recipient of the Chris Schenkel Award for excellence in broadcasting, as well as the yet-to-be-announced recipients of the NFF Gold Medal, NFF Distinguished American Award and NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award.

In addition to the presentation of the NFF Major Awards, the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner will provide the stage for the induction of the 2015 College Football Hall of Fame Class; the presentation of the 2015 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity; and the bestowing of the 26th NFF William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments and displayed at its official home inside the New York Athletic Club, to the nation's top scholar-athlete.

This year's College Football Hall of Fame Class includes: Trev Alberts (Nebraska), Brian Bosworth (Oklahoma), Bob Breunig (Arizona State), Sean Brewer (Millsaps [Miss.]), Ruben Brown (Pittsburgh), Wes Chandler (Florida), Thom Gatewood (Notre Dame), Dick Jauron (Yale), Clinton Jones (Michigan State), Lincoln Kennedy (Washington), Rob Lytle (Michigan), Michael Payton (Marshall), Art Still (Kentucky), Zach Thomas (Texas Tech), Ricky Williams (Texas) and coaches Bill Snyder (Kansas State) and Jim Tressel (Youngstown State and Ohio State). The 2015 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, presented by Fidelity Investments, will be announced on Oct. 29, and the winner of the Campbell Trophy will be announced live at the event on Dec. 8.