UCSB hires McCutcheon as new athletic director

UCSB has hired John McCutcheon as its Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, the university announced Thursday.

McCutcheon, 61, comes to Santa Barbara from the University of Massachusetts, where he held the same position for the past 11 years. He previously ran the athletic department at Cal Poly for 12 years.

John McCutcheon is the new athletic director at UCSB.

John McCutcheon is the new athletic director at UCSB. (Mass Live photo)

McCutcheon will be formally introduced at a press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 3. He will start work at UCSB on March 2.

McCutcheon replaces Gary Cunningham who has acted as interim Director of Intercollegiate Athletics since July of 2014. Prior to Cunningham, Mark Massari led UCSB Athletics for six years. Massari stepped down to accepted a position at Oregon State.

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of John McCutcheon as our next Director of Intercollegiate Athletics,” Chancellor Henry T. Yang said. “Mr. McCutcheon brings a wealth of experience in leading NCAA Division I athletics departments and I am confident that he will be an exceptional leader for our athletics program. We have all been impressed by his enthusiasm and his commitment to supporting our coaches and student-athletes in reaching their academic and athletic goals.”

McCutcheon was interviewed for the job in November. He was one of six finalists, with the list later trimmed to McCutcheon, UCSB associate AD Andy Fee, and Saint Mary’s AD Mark Orr.

At UMass, McCutcheon oversaw an era of growth on and off the field that was unprecedented at the school. During his tenure, the program enjoyed some of its highest levels of annual donations and corporate sponsorships. Nearly every athletic program received major facility upgrades to promote a future of success. Perhaps the most historic move in the history of UMass athletics came during McCutcheon’s era with the transition of the football program from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (I-A).

Under McCutcheon’s watch, UMass won 38 conference titles and reached 29 NCAA Tournaments.

UMass student-athletes enjoyed impressive academic success during McCutcheon’s time in Amherst as well. A total of 334 earned academic all-conference honors, including 15 league student-athletes of the year. Nationally, UMass has produced 11 Academic All-Americans. Much of this success was due in part to an increased focus on the UMass academic support staff through the addition of learning specialists, an enhanced tutoring program and initiatives such as the CHAMPS Cup, which promotes the best possible collegiate experience for student-athletes.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” McCutcheon said about the UCSB job. “When this opportunity presented itself a few months back, my wife (Sue) and I knew it was something we had to look into. Because of family situations, we left the Central Coast 11 years ago and we very much look forward to getting back. I am extremely thankful to Chancellor Yang and all the members of the committee and I can’t wait to get to Santa Barbara and get to work.”

McCutcheon’s tenure at Cal Poly was also marked by progress and transition. He helped the school reclassify from Division II to Division I-AA and secured membership in the Big West Conference. Cal Poly teams won 15 conference championships with 11 teams and 45 individuals advancing to NCAA postseason competition.

McCutcheon also helped develop an athletic facility master plan at Cal Poly that enhanced all facets of the department and provided much needed competition and practice space for student-athletes. That project included a $20 million capital campaign that collected funds from private, corporate, state and student sources. Additionally, Cal Poly doubled its staff during his time at the school.

At UCSB, he faces the challenge of upgrading facilities like the Thunderdome, Campus Pool and baseball’s Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

A member of the National Association of College Directors of Athletics since 1992, McCutcheon was also a member of the Collegiate Athletic Business Managers Association from 1978-1992. He has served on the NCAA Management Council, the NCAA Leadership Council and the Big West Conference Executive Committee.

Before his initial move to the Central Coast in 1992, McCutcheon spent 12 years at Boston College. He served as associate athletic director for business and operations from June 1991 to August 1992; assistant athletic director from July 1988 to June 1991; and athletic business manager from July 1980 to July 1988. He was also assistant athletic manager at the University of Maine from July 1977 to July 1980.

McCutcheon, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., earned his bachelor of science degree in health, physical education and recreation from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1975. He also earned a master of education degree from Ohio University in 1978.

Story includes information from Mass Live and Presidio Sports