WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- UNCW has hired Jimmy Bass as its new Athletics Director. Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo made the announcement at an afternoon news conference on campus. Bass replaces Kelly Mehrtens, who resigned Sept. 27 after more than three years on the job.
A former executive director of UNCW's Seahawk Club from 1986 to 1989, Bass returns to Wilmington from East Carolina University, where he has served as an associate athletic director. He has also worked at NC State, Davidson, Pittsburgh and Mississippi State.
Bass takes over an athletic department that has dealt with a lot of controversy in its flagship basketball program and sagging support from boosters.
Earlier this year, Mehrtens reassigned men's coach Benny Moss after his team continued to struggle. The search for his successor dragged into the spring, ending with the hiring of Buzz Peterson. Mehrtens followed that hiring with another high-profile move on the women's side replacing Ann Hancock with Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, one of the greatest basketball players of all time and an inductee this summer to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Last month, though, the women's program garnered a lot of negative attention when junior guard Julia Finlay was forced to logroll several times up and down the court as a punishment. UNCW announced yesterday Finlay has left the team, while assistant coach Johnetta Hayes, who oversaw the punishment, has not been seen publicly with the team since.
Bass, 53, is a native of Dunn. East Carolina hired him in February 2006 as Associate Athletics Director for External Operations overseeing all fundraising, marketing, promotional, ticketing and media relations efforts for East Carolina's 19 intercollegiate athletic programs.
THE NEWS RELEASE FROM UNCW:
WILMINGTON, NC (NEWS RELEASE) - Jimmy Bass, a veteran collegiate administrator with close ties to eastern North Carolina, has been named the University of North Carolina Wilmington's new athletics director, Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo announced Tuesday.
Bass has spent the last three years as Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Operations at East Carolina after holding previous positions at Mississippi State, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, UNCW and Davidson. The appointment of Bass follows an extensive national search that drew about ninety applicants, and included the hiring of Bill Carr and Associates, a highly regarded search firm, and the compilation of a 10-person search committee chaired by Board of Trustees member David Swain.
“We’re very pleased to welcome Jimmy Bass back to our Seahawk family,” said DePaolo. “He understands the passion and dedication that Seahawks everywhere have for our teams. He also has the highest respect for our student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff. Most importantly, he values UNCW’s commitment to academics as well as to athletics.”
Bass, 54, returns to the Port City after serving as UNCW’s first full-time athletics fundraiser in 1986. As Executive Director of the UNCW Student Aid Association (Seahawk Club) and Associate Director of Athletics, he bolstered the school's athletic scholarship efforts and pushed membership in the Seahawk Club from 250 to 1,100 during his three-year stay.
“I am so appreciative of this wonderful opportunity to serve as UNCW’s next athletic director,” said Bass. “I sensed right away Chancellor DePaolo’s genuine commitment to athletic excellence, and I am so excited to be joining her team.”
Bass has had a wide variety of experience that includes development, ticketing, marketing and fundraising. He joined the ECU staff for the second time in February 2006 and has coordinated all fundraising, marketing, promotional, ticketing and media relations efforts for East Carolina's 19 intercollegiate athletic programs and acted as the department's top liaison with marketing firm ISP Sports.
Bass began his professional career in 1979 as Assistant Director of the Wildcat Club and Athletic Ticket Manager at Davidson before accepting an assistant director's position on the Wolfpack Club staff at N.C. State in 1981. He then came to Wilmington, where he helped energize the Seahawk Nation.
He then moved on to work with former ECU Athletics Director Dave Hart Jr. at ECU. In Greenville, he developed, coordinated and implemented marketing and promotional goals for Pirate and Lady Pirate programs. He initiated a comprehensive and revenue-producing corporate sponsorship program that remains a model of success today.
Following an 11-month assignment at Pitt, where he instituted a new point priority system and revamped the annual giving levels and member benefits program, Bass returned to Raleigh as N.C. State's Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations and Executive Director of the Alumni Association from November 1994 to April 2000.
Bass returned to athletics at N.C. State as Associate Executive Director of the Wolfpack Club from April 2000 to July 2005. He directed the strategic planning and execution of the Goal Line Drive, a five-year campaign that raised more than $60 million for expansion and improvements at Carter-Finley Stadium. During the same time, he also spearheaded the Batter Up Campaign for the renovation of Doak Baseball Field and the Advantage Wolfpack Campaign for the construction of the Isenhour Indoor Tennis Center.
Bass then served as Senior Associate Director of Athletics at Mississippi State for six months, where he headed all development and fundraising activities for the Bulldogs. In addition to directing all annual giving, major gift and capital campaigns, Bass provided oversight to MSU's athletic ticketing, marketing and promotions efforts.
Bass earned a bachelor's degree in speech communication from N.C. State in 1978 before completing his master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio University in 1980. He is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD).
Bass is married to the former Sarah Ruark, and the couple has one son, Joseph Corey.
Bass becomes UNCW’s sixth athletics director, following William J. “Bill” Brooks, Paul Miller, Peg Bradley-Doppes, Mike Capaccio and Kelly Mehrtens. Deputy Athletics Director Pat Howey has served in the role since the resignation of Mehrtens on Sept. 27.