Greg Myford has never run a college athletic program, but he knows how to build a school's brand and find money in sponsorships, ticket sales and multimedia deals.
Those are the skills the University of Alaska Anchorage — a school that has faced deep budget cuts over the last two years — touted Wednesday when naming Myford its new athletic director.
Myford's hiring comes nearly one year after UAA's previous athletic director, Keith Hackett, announced his resignation.
The new boss of the school's 13-sport athletic department comes to Anchorage from Tallahassee, Florida, where he works for IMG College, the country's biggest sports marketing company.
Since joining IMG in 2013, Myford has focused on sponsorships and multimedia-rights agreements for several colleges in the southeast United States, most recently Florida State.
Prior to that, he spent nearly a decade at Penn State, where he was the associate athletic director for business relations and communications.
"Greg is accomplished in … adapting to where athletics is going, and his wealth of experience in promotion, marketing and fundraising will be critical to shaping our Seawolf future," UAA interim chancellor Samuel Gingerich said in a written statement.
In a phone interview Wednesday evening, Myford said budget cuts and constraints aren't unique to UAA.
Reducing costs "are a given reality of today," he said. "Efficiency and economic accountability is a given. What's not a given is how we address engaging our communities, our fan base, our alumni, to the point where everyone is involved in what we are doing and supportive of what we are doing.
"That is the key component. Whether it be fundraising or ticket sales or the sponsorship side, all of those are what I would refer to as engagement. It's not simply about financial support, as important as that is. The overall engagement is what gets people excited and allows a program to grow."
Myford, a 1986 Penn State graduate, will start his new job July 31.
"What I intend to do from the outset is a lot of urgent listening," he said. "I will come up to speed very quickly on what our constituencies want to see out of UAA. What are the expectations?
"If the expectations are for every team to win every conference title every year, that's probably not realistic. … There needs to be an understanding of expectations around the program. You want to get to the point where the fan base understands what we're doing, how we're doing it, and what the goals are. And that the (athletic department) understands the expectations of the fan base.
"When those two things are aligned, a really positive atmosphere, which I believe leads to growth, can happen. When those are not aligned it's very difficult."
Myford was at Penn State during the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, which led to the firing of football coach Joe Paterno and cost the university more than $250 million in fines and lost sponsorships.
"One of the things I took away from that is that during a time of difficulty and adversity, people don't expect miracles. But they do expect understanding," he said. "People don't expect miracles, but they do expect to be led. They expect leadership.
"That was the takeaway I had. I don't speculate a lot on what transpired (when Sandusky was at the school) because I wasn't there. Was I there for the aftermath? Yes. That became part of my job there."
Myford earned a degree in broadcast journalism at Penn State and began his career in the cable TV industry. After that he spent a dozen years in Michigan with Palace Sports & Entertainment.
He was at Penn State from 2004 to 2013. During that time, the athletic department hired IMG College to help market its ticket sales.
"College athletics has become a very marketing-focused, market-driven enterprise," Gingerich said in his written statement, "and he has the expertise and competitive drive to take UAA athletics to new heights of success."
Myford replaces Hackett, who resigned last year after four years at UAA to take a similar position at Iowa's Cornell College.
For the last year, longtime administrator Tim McDiffett served as interim athletic director. McDiffett recently announced his retirement after 37 years at the school.
Myford is the ninth athletic director since UAA began intercollegiate athletics in 1977.
Big man on campus
Greg Myford becomes the ninth man to serve as athletic director since UAA began intercollegiate athletics in 1977. The others:
Bob Rachal, 1977-78
Lew Haines, 1978-80
Gene Templeton, 1980-84
Ron Petro, 1984-92
Tim Dillon, 1992-98
Harry Larrabee, 1998-00
Steve Cobb, 2000-13
Keith Hackett, 2013-17