STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) — Mary Baldwin University (MBU) announced this week that Thomas Byrnes will become the new director of athletics, bringing to the Fighting Squirrels three decades of experience in collegiate athletics administration.
Byrnes has built strong personal and professional relationships with coaches, student-athletes, officials, and administrators throughout his career.
“Thomas will be a great addition to MBU Athletics,” said Ernest Jeffries, vice president of student engagement at MBU. “From his time as a conference commissioner and league executive director to his experiences as a sports information director, coach, and current athletics director, Thomas brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will benefit the Athletics Department and most importantly our student-athletes.”
Byrnes’ background encompasses NCAA Divisions I, II, and III and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), as well as committee work for the NCAA, Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), and others.
“I believe my experience in a variety of roles as an administrator will help as we build programs, facilities, and staffing models that focus on the university’s mission and are grounded in the philosophy of NCAA Division III athletics,” Byrnes said. “My main goal is to provide a strong, competitive, well-rounded athletics and recreation program for MBU students and, specifically, student-athletes.”
Byrnes will provide leadership for all aspects of MBU’s Athletics Department including strategic planning, program and staff development, resource management, athletics and recreational activities, and ensuring compliance with NCAA, USA South, Title IX, and university policies.
He joins MBU during a time of strategic planning and expansion of athletics offerings and facilities, such as the recent addition of six men’s programs, including men’s soccer and baseball, as well as the construction of SMA Worth Field. His anticipated start date is August 12.
"I would like to thank President Fox, Dr. Jeffries, Dr. McCoy, the search committee, and everyone I met during the process for putting their trust in me to advance the Fighting Squirrels athletics program,” said Byrnes. “It was very obvious to me that the Mary Baldwin community is committed to advancing the academic, athletic, and cultural components that make the university great. I'm very excited to join this group and contribute."
In his most recent position as director of athletics at Johnson & Wales University (JWU) Denver, Byrnes oversaw a 500% increase in student-athlete recruitment and stewarded the school’s NCAA D-III membership application, a multi-phase process. He also expanded JWU Denver’s coaching and training staff, launched men’s and women’s golf programs, and initiated a student-athlete advisory committee.
Prior to JWU Denver, he served as the first full-time commissioner for the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC), based in York, Pa. He recruited member institutions for CAC, enhanced membership services for their 21 championship sports, worked with NCAA D-III staff and commissioner organizations, and represented the conference both regionally and nationally.
Byrnes also has years of experience on the sports information and media relations side of collegiate athletics, serving as sports information director (SID) at California University of Pennsylvania, and, prior to that position, assistant executive director for media relations at the Pennsylvania-based Patriot League. He started his career as the first full-time SID at Franklin & Marshall College and then rose to the position of assistant director of athletics.
For more than 30 years, Byrnes has participated in soccer, basketball, baseball, and softball at the collegiate and scholastic level as an official. He also served on the CoSIDA Academic All-America Committee for 25 years.
Byrnes earned a BA in communications/journalism and an MS in organizational communication, both from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Coreena, have two children, Nathan and Lauren.
Founded in 1842, Mary Baldwin University is a small, coeducational university offering a range of degree programs from bachelor to doctoral. It serves a vibrant student population on its main campus in Staunton, Virginia; at its nearby health sciences campus in Augusta
County; and online.