|Position:||Director of Athletics|
|Alma Mater:||Minnesota State-Mankato, 1992|
Since taking over as the University of Miami’s Director of Athletics in 2013, Blake James has led a transformation at Miami on the field, in student-athlete support, in facilities and in student academic achievement.
In 2015-2016, Miami was the only school in NCAA Division I athletics to have its football team play in a bowl game, men’s and women’s basketball teams reach the NCAA tournament and baseball team advance to the College World Series. Overall, Miami had 10 sports programs advance to postseason competition to secure its highest finish in the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings in 12 years, an indication of broad-based athletic department success.
Miami sold out its entire men’s basketball season ticket allotment in 2015-2016, marking the first time in Hurricane athletics history that a team has sold out on a season-ticket basis. For fans who chose to watch the Canes on media platforms, the Hurricanes’ live streaming video platform took a giant leap as Miami aired more than 115 live events on ESPN3 – a figure that ranked first among all ACC schools.
In the classroom, three Miami teams were honored nationally for being among the top 10 percent in the Academic Progress Rates (APR) during the 2015-2016 academic year. In addition, eight Hurricane teams scored 990 or better out of a possible 1,000 points - men’s cross country (1000), men’s diving (1000), men’s tennis (991), golf (1000), soccer (991), women’s swimming (996), women’s tennis (992) and women’s track and field (994).
In the department’s continuing efforts to better support student-athletes and coaches, the Miami Hurricane Club set an all-time annual fund record of $12 million raised for the Student-Athlete Excellence Fund—an increase of 21 percent over the prior year. The Hurricane Club also announced a record 8,100 active members in May 2016, an 80-percent increase in active membership since 2010.
Under James’ leadership, Miami has completed several facility enhancements, beginning with the opening of the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence, the completion of the student-athlete training table, fueling station, dining hall, new artificial and natural playing surfaces and lights on the Greentree Practice Fields and a center-hung scoreboard inside the Hurricanes’ basketball arena. Prior to the 2015 athletics season, James was instrumental in helping Miami strike one of the largest apparel deals in the country with adidas.
Prior to being named AD, James served Miami athletics in the roles of Interim AD and Senior Associate AD for Development and Ticket Operations, where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of development, ticket sales and ticket operations. He also was a member of the Hurricanes’ senior staff and provided sport supervision.
James came to UM after spending seven years the University of Maine, where he first served as Senior Associate Athletic Director before serving as Director of Athletics from 2005 to 2010. During his tenure at Maine, athletics experienced tremendous success, including three trips to the Frozen Four for the men’s ice hockey program and NCAA playoff berths for football, baseball (two), women’s basketball and softball. Additionally, James implemented a comprehensive $17 million facility improvement plan, which included an indoor practice facility and numerous other facility upgrades and renovations. Academically, the program flourished, earning the conference academic cup twice and student-athletes maintaining better than a 3.0 GPA.
Prior to his stint at Maine, James worked in athletic development at Providence College, where he established the “Friars Forever” campaign and the Friar Athletic Fund.
James is no stranger to South Florida, beginning his athletic career with the University of Miami, working in ticket sales, corporate sales and athletic development. In 1995, he was hired as Miami’s Director of Ticket Sales, serving in that capacity until 1997, when he was named an athletic development officer at the University of Nebraska. He returned to Miami in 1998 as the Director of Major Gifts and Corporate Sales and was promoted to the Director of Athletic Development at Miami in 2000 before moving on to Providence in 2002.
James graduated from Minnesota State University - Mankato with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing in 1992 and later received his Master’s degree in Sports Administration from St. Thomas University in 1994.
He and his wife, Kelly, have two children: daughter, Haley, and son, Ryan.