News Release

NCAA Executive Selected as UDM Director of Athletics

Robert C. Vowels, NCAA Vice President of Membership and Student-Athlete Affairs, has been named Director of Athletics at University of Detroit Mercy. The announcement was made today at a press conference by UDM President Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi. Vowels will oversee the 19 men’s and women’s athletic teams in the University’s Division I intercollegiate athletic program.

View local media coverage of the UDM Director of Athletics Selection

“Robert Vowels has a tremendous amount of intercollegiate athletics leadership and management skills and experiences, and we are very fortunate to have him as our Director of Athletics,” Garibaldi said. “Our student-athletes, coaches, and other athletics staff will benefit greatly from his current work at the NCAA.”  More than 70 individuals applied for the position.

With more than 23 years of intercollegiate athletics experience, Vowels is Vice President of Membership and Student-Athlete Affairs at the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) where he oversees educational programs designed to improve student-athlete well-being, leadership development and inclusion. At the NCAA, he leads a department of 26 NCAA staff members and oversaw a budget of $17 million.

Prior to that position, Vowels served as the Commissioner of two intercollegiate athletic conferences at Division I (Southwestern Athletic Conference) and Division II (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) programs. Some of the accomplishments during his years as a Conference Commissioner included league expansion and television packages. He also worked as an Associate Commissioner at the Big Ten Conference and Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance at Vanderbilt University.

While at the SWAC, Vowels revised the conference’s strategic plan, compliance programs, championships and corporate alliance programs to make them more efficient and effective. In 2004-05 he also negotiated a multi-year media agreement with ESPN/ESPNU on behalf of the SWAC. He worked with ESPN and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) to develop the concept of the initial MEAC-SWAC Challenge.

During his time at SIAC, Vowels oversaw the expansion of the conference to 11 institutions and negotiated the first multi-year SIAC football and basketball television agreement with Urban Sports and Entertainment. He also negotiated the league’s first licensing and agreement program and developed the conference’s first corporate partnership program.

Vowels also served on the Division I Management Council, Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, Division I Football Board of Directors and the Collegiate Commissioner’s Association (CCA). He also served as Chair of the Minorities Opportunities and Interest Committee (MOIC).

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina where he was a full scholarship football student-athlete and his Juris Doctorate from the North Carolina Central University School of Law.


Local Media Coverage

May 28, 2013
Robert Vowels vows to better Titans' brand as new UDM athletic ...
Anthony Fenech/Detroit Free Press


UDM names Robert Vowels new ADMay 28, 2013
Photo Gallery: UDM names Robert Vowels new AD
Jessica J. Trevino/Detroit Free Press

Robert C. Vowels is introduced as the new Director of Athletics at University of Detroit Mercy
View Images ...


Robert Vowels named athletic director at University of Detroit MercyMay 28, 2013
Robert Vowels named athletic director at University of Detroit Mercy
WXYZ Detroit

... Starting in June, the DEGC will be issuing a call for artists -- five with national reputations and five local talents -- to pair with students from University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College to create artworks that reflect the district's history. Read More ...


Robert C. Vowels named UDM athletic directorMay 28, 2013
Robert C. Vowels named UDM athletic director
Tom Markowski /The Detroit News

Detroit — Robert C. Vowels has been named the University of Detroit Mercy's new athletic director, effective July 8. Vowels replaces interim athletic director Jason Horn and is in charge of 19 athletic programs. Read More ...


Release date: May 29, 2013

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