By Kane McGuire, Louisiana Tech Assistant Athletic Director/Athletic Communications
RUSTON – Louisiana Tech President Les Guice introduced Dr. Eric A. Wood as a Vice President and the Director of Athletics during a press conference in the Chris Richardson Suite of the Joe Aillet Stadium Press Box Friday.
Wood, a former student-athlete at Sacred Heart University who is also 22-year veteran of collegiate athletic administration, comes to Ruston following a five-year stint at UCF, where he spent the past four years as the Deputy AD for Competitive Excellence.
He becomes the first Director of Athletics in LA Tech history to also serve as a Vice President.
“I’m proud to welcome Eric and his family to Louisiana Tech and Ruston,” said Dr. Guice. “His record of accomplishment shows Eric’s qualifications, and interacting with him quickly convinces you he is something really special. He is a dynamic, charismatic individual who leads with intelligence and character. It’s a rare combination, and we’re very fortunate to have him on our team.”
The Bronx, New York, native has served in a variety of roles within athletics administration for more than two decades. In addition to his time at UCF, Wood has held full-time positions at the University of Arkansas, the Atlantic Coast Conference, Wake Forest University and the University of New Haven. He also served as a graduate assistant at both the NCAA national office and Clemson University early in his career.
“I want to thank Dr. Guice, Brooks Hull, Steve Davison, Mary Kay Hungate, Samuel Speed, and Dr. Donna Thomas for the opportunity to serve as the next Vice President and Director of Athletics, but more importantly for the opportunity to join the Louisiana Tech family,” said Dr. Wood. “After meeting the search committee, I could feel the genuine love they have for Louisiana Tech, and I just knew I wanted to serve alongside them.”
At every level of his professional career, Wood has made an impact. His qualifications and accomplishments include:
· Board of Trustee Member – Sacred Heart University
· 2019 “Next Up” honoree presented by Adidas and College AD for senior level administrators
· Athletics Representative on the UCF Presidents Advisory Staff Council
· 2016 Top 40 Under 40 in the Arkansas Business Journal
· 2009 graduate of the NCAA’s Leadership Institute
· 11 years of executive staff level leadership
· $55 million in successful management experience for sport programs, operations and support areas
· $5 million in fundraising visits, proposals, and presentations for programing, operations and facilities
· Head coach hires in football, men’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, and track and field
· Sport administrator experience (football, men’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s golf)
· NCAA, NLI, Division I-A Athletics Director’s Association (Now Lead1), USTA committee service
· 1997-98 NCAA football student-athlete Medal of Merit recipient as SA of the Year
During his tenure at UCF, Wood played a prominent role in the strategic planning process and day-to-day administration of the University’s 16-sport intercollegiate athletics program, assisting with key initiatives that impact overall competitive excellence in the classroom and on the respective playing fields as a member of his executive leadership team.
He represented the department on the President’s Advisory Staff Council and served as sport administrator for the football and men’s basketball programs. Wood had administrative oversight of the Varsity Knights alumni letter-winners organization, UCF Convocation Corporation management and revenue generation, Knights Sports Performance, the sport administrators group, the sports science and sports nutrition departments, compliance, academics and all internal units impacting the competitive success of UCF’s 450 student-athletes.
“President Guice and Louisiana Tech University made an absolute home run hire,” said UCF Director of Athletics Danny White. “UCF’s loss is LA Tech’s gain. Eric Wood has had an enormous impact on our athletics program. Simply put, seemingly everything he touches turns to gold! I am grateful for Eric’s many contributions that have led to an unprecedented amount of competitive and academic success at UCF.
“His interpersonal skills are second-to-none, and combined with his competitive drive, his work with our coaches and student-athletes allowed us to break a whole lot of records around here. I couldn’t be happier for Eric, Celia, and their beautiful family, and I look forward to following their continued success in this new adventure.”
Wood also assisted with the hiring of UCF football coach Josh Heupel and men’s basketball coach Johnny Dawkins. The Knights football program has won 22 games over the past two seasons, including an undefeated regular season in 2018. The Knights men’s basketball program earned a trip to the 2019 NCAA Tournament, the program’s first since 2005.
“Dr. Eric Wood is everything a school could want in an athletic director,” said Dawkins. “His greatest strength lies in his ability to connect with others. He is great with student athletes, administrators, and coaches. He will be greatly missed, but I can’t wait to see what he will accomplish at Louisiana Tech.”
During his time in Fayetteville, Wood served as the Associate Athletics Director, Deputy Title IX Coordinator/Diversity Coordinator (2011-16) as well as the Assistant Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Development (2009-11).
Wood was the Director of Student-Athlete Programs and Compliance at the ACC (2005-09) following a stint as the Assistant AD for Compliance at Wake Forest (2004-05). He began is full-time collegiate athletic administration career as the Assistant AD for Compliance and Student Development at the University of New Haven (2003-04).
He is a 1998 graduate of Sacred Heart University, earning his degree in Psychology. He was a three-year starter at cornerback for the Pioneer football team with one outdoor season as a member of the track and field team.
Wood earned a Medal of Merit, the athletic department’s highest honor, as the Student-Athlete of the Year his senior year at Sacred Heart. He completed his master’s degree in counseling and guidance services at Clemson University in May 2000 and his Doctorate of Education in Sports Management at the University of Arkansas in 2016.
He is the first African-American Vice President in Louisiana Tech history as well as the first minority Director of Athletics in the University’s history.
“I love the bold mission and vision of the University to be the top public research institution in the country,” said Wood. “My vision for athletics is the same – competitive excellence. We will compete in the classroom. We will compete to develop more leaders. And we will compete to win more championships.”
Dr. Wood and his wife Celia have four children – Eliana (10), Nia (8), Alyssa (6) and Elijah (4).