Brian Hardin, a 2002 Marquette University graduate and student-athlete, returned to his alma mater in June of 2015 to serve as a Deputy Athletic Director.
Hardin’s experience gained as an interim athletics director and deputy athletics director at an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision institution, has prepared Hardin well for his role in helping to lead one of the nation’s preeminent NCAA Division I-AAA athletics departments here at Marquette. Since joining the Marquette athletics department, Hardin has designed and implemented a strategic process in the areas he oversees that has proven instrumental in the athletic department achieving both departmental and University goals.
Hardin is a member of the athletic director’s executive staff as well as the senior leadership committee at Marquette. The departments Hardin supervises support the athletics department through revenue generation, community engagement, fan development initiatives and promotion of the department itself. Specifically, his department oversight includes marketing and fan engagement, ticket sales and strategy, ticket operations and service, licensing and the Spirit Shop. In his brief time at Marquette, Hardin has restructured the business development and external engagement units to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. Each of the revenue-producing departments under Hardin’s oversight have increased the amount of revenue created during Hardin’s time at Marquette. Attendance at the seven sports Marquette issues tickets for also has improved over the last two years.
Hardin serves as the liaison with Marquette Sports Properties and is the primary contact for the M Club, the affinity group comprised of student-athlete alumni. He is the sports administrator for men's and women's cross country/track and field, men's soccer and men's tennis. Since taking over as sport administrator, five of the programs Hardin oversees have won BIG EAST Championships. He also serves as one of three administrators on the BIG EAST Conference Sport Committee for cross country/track and field.
A critical improvement for the athletics department in 2016-17 was the growth of ticket sales. Thanks to adjustments to staffing and sales philosophy implemented by Hardin, total ticket revenue for 2016-17 was the best for Marquette in four years and the fourth best in school history. Men’s basketball attendance increased by 3.1 percent last year, defying the national trend of decreased attendance in 2016-17. Marquette, which ranked 19th in attendance last year, recorded the second best attendance improvement among all schools that ranked in the top 25 for attendance from 2015-16 to 2016-17.
Attendance increases for Marquette Athletics in 2016-17 was not limited to only men’s basketball. Under Hardin’s oversight, the strategic efforts of the marketing and ticking departments helped facilitate additional growth of the average crowd at women’s basketball games. This past year, attendance at Marquette women’s basketball games were 39.7 percent better than two seasons ago and BIG EAST games improved by 51.4 percent over the 2014-15 season. Attendance at volleyball matches increased by 26.9 percent last year while men’s soccer saw an attendance improvement of 20.1 percent and posted its best attendance figure since 2005. Women’s soccer also posted its best attendance total since 2005 and its average crowd increased 9.7 percent when compared to 2015.
Increased engagement with Learfield Licensing Group by Hardin led to revenue surges from licensing and merchandise in 2016-17. Licensing dollars increased 17 percent and the Marquette Spirit Shop revenues improved by 15 percent when compared to 2015-16.
During Hardin’s second year at Marquette, the University sought out and utilized Hardin’s skill set to negotiate a new pouring rights agreement for the University. Hardin was instrumental in obtaining an agreement for the University that resulted in an 82 percent improvement in financial support for Marquette. Hardin was also appointed by Marquette University President Dr. Michael Lovell to serve on the University’s Corporate Engagement Task Force and serve as a co-team lead for one of seven working groups.
In Hardin’s first year he split the marketing and sales department into two separate units. A new ticket sales and strategy department was created, while the marketing department was rebranded as marketing and fan engagement. This restructuring allowed for the creation of a department that focused daily on ticket sales for the seven-ticketed sports at Marquette, while a different department was in charge of improving the fan experience and interaction at Marquette events.
The results were positive in the first year as men's basketball group and single-game tickets sales increased by 18 percent from 2014-15, resulting in a revenue increase of 35 percent from that area total.
Contributing to this success was the introduction of a new seating section for recent Marquette graduates that proved very successful in its first campaign. Coors Light Corner, as the new section became affectionately known, reconnected the young alumni with their alma mater and helped generate almost $50,000 in new incremental revenue. This helped Marquette claim a silver award at the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators (NACMA) Convention for the second-best season ticket sales campaign. Hardin’s creation of the Marquette Fan Advisory Committee in 2015 improved the dialogue between athletics and fans, resulting in feedback, ideas and suggestions to better the fan experience and played a role in boosting fan and community attendance.
Hardin arrived in Milwaukee after spending two years at Ball State University as the department's Deputy Athletics Director for External Affairs, where he had joined Bill Scholl's staff from the University of Notre Dame in February of 2013.
At Ball State, Hardin served as the Interim Director of Athletics for five months after the departure of Scholl and helped conclude a $20 million fundraising campaign, the first comprehensive campaign specifically for athletics in the school's history.
As Deputy Athletics Director for External Affairs at Ball State, Hardin had oversight of the media relations, marketing, corporate relationships and ticketing departments. He was also the primary sport administrator for the women's cross country/track and field teams and men's and women's swim and dive programs. He also assisted with the supervision of the football and baseball teams for the first 20 months of his tenure before assuming primary administrator duties for remainder of his employment with Ball State.
Under his guidance, Ball State enjoyed significant increases in overall attendance and ticket revenue in numerous sports. Highlights of the growth included dramatic progress in student support, thanks in large part to the development of a successful rewards program.
Previous to Ball State, Hardin served from 2006-13 as the primary media relations contact for the Notre Dame football team to local, regional and national media outlets. He served as the primary spokesperson for the Notre Dame football program and worked with the university to coordinate the school's communication strategies.
With the Irish, Hardin promoted two Heisman Trophy finalists, 11 national award winners, 16 national award finalists, six first-team All-Americans, 12 student-athletes earning All-America honors, nine Academic All-Americans and three national scholar-athlete award recipients.
In addition to his media relations duties at Notre Dame, Hardin served as the sport administrator for men's tennis. He was responsible for budget oversight, performance reviews and interaction with student-athletes and parents from an administrative perspective.
Prior to his work at Notre Dame, Hardin spent two years as a media relations assistant for the Chicago Bears. He began his professional career as a sports information intern at Loyola-Chicago in 2002-03 and began as a media relations intern for the Bears in 2003-04.
A 2002 graduate of Marquette with a bachelor's degree in journalism, Hardin was a sprinter on the track team for the Golden Eagles and a four-year letter winner in that role. He served as a team captain in his senior season. Hardin worked as a student worker in Marquette's sports marketing department as a junior and sports information department as a senior.
Hardin graduated from the Sports Management Institute Executive Program in 2011 and was invited to attend the D-1A Institute (now LEAD1 Institute) for rising administrators in 2016. Hardin represented Marquette at the 2016 Collegiate Athletics Leadership Symposium and participated in the NACDA Senior Administrator Mentoring Institute in 2017. He currently is a mentee in the NCAA Division I-AAA Mentoring Institute.
Hardin resides in Mequon, Wisconsin, with his wife Cara and their three sons - Noah, and twins Elliot and Bennett.
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