MARTIN, Tenn. – Julio Freire, formerly the assistant/associate athletics director for development at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was formally introduced as the 12th athletics director in University of Tennessee at Martin history on Monday afternoon.
Freire, along with his wife Cherie and children Christopher and Gabriella, was officially introduced at a press conference in the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center on the eve of an Ohio Valley Conference basketball doubleheader. He succeeds Phil Dane, who retired on Dec. 31, 2013 after 34 years of service at UT Martin, the last 14 of which were as athletics director. The archived version of Freire’s press conference can be seen here: http://www.ovcdigitalnetwork.com/showcase/?Archive=643.
Chancellor Tom Rakes as well as OVC Commissioner Beth DeBauche welcomed Freire to UT Martin. Search committee chair David Belote served as emcee of the press conference.
“At certain times, certain individuals rise to the top and that’s really what happened in this case,” Rakes said of the athletics director search. “Julio demonstrates an understanding of protocol and team spirit necessary for this type of position. He also exhibits a level of energy and understanding of how to interact with a whole cross section of individuals. He has seen the intricacies of Division-I athletics and we are fortunate to have him here.”
“It’s such an exciting day for the future of Skyhawk nation,” DeBauche said. “I am absolutely delighted for the opportunity to work with Julio and to get to work with his family as we move forward. There are some exciting things going on in the OVC and it’s the perfect time to be joining the league. I know Julio brings the right energy, excitement, vision and knowledge to really be a contributor to this fine conference.”
Freire credited his fellow colleagues Jim Livengood, Dutch Baughman, Kevin White, Thomas Boeh, Mark Wilson and Tom Thomas for his success in getting his “dream job” as UT Martin athletics director.
Born in Tijuana, Mexico, Freire discussed his background and the traditional family values of faith, respect, work ethic, service and a great sense for right and wrong. He ran cross country and track and field at Arizona State before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1990 and followed that with a Master’s degree in counseling from the University of Phoenix in 1997.
Freire spent time as a high school teacher, principal and athletics director in Arizona before moving on to his first collegiate athletics administrative position under Boeh at Ohio University, where he spent 2000-04 as assistant/associate athletics director for development.
From Ohio, Freire went to OVC institution Tennessee Tech, where he served as associate athletics director for development under Wilson from 2005-07. He then joined Livengood at Arizona (2007-10) and UNLV (2010-13) in an associate athletics director role, serving in a multitude of administrative roles.
Freire stressed three messages at Monday’s press conference, noting that he had a plan for comprehensive excellence, he would remain focused on the student-athlete and he would engage the community in a meaningful way.
“In 2014, we will embrace the spirit of planning for comprehensive excellence, all in support of the mission of the University of Tennessee at Martin,” Freire said. “Our plan for excellence will allow us to build upon the department’s history and traditions. With this plan, we will guide and support our student-athletes as they aspire to reach their fullest potential academically, athletically and socially.”
“We will embrace high ideals that a UT Martin student-athlete should be leaving this great university with a meaningful degree and had been in position to compete for championships,” Freire said. “Everyone on my staff throughout the department and throughout the university will know that the academic achievement of our student-athletes is our top priority. It is my intent to have us all represent this institution with the highest degree of integrity at all times.”
“We will work to communicate a plan that will focus on the well-being of our student-athletes,” Freire said. “This plan will be shared within our community, with university leaders, with the academic community, with alumni and fans. We will be inviting them all to be part of our plans and part of our success. I believe that community engagement must extend beyond the campus border, beyond the city limits and beyond the great state of Tennessee.”
In conclusion, Freire noted that his greatest accomplishment was his family and that he cannot wait to get to work.
“We are proud and honored to say ‘yes’ to making your community our own,” Freire said. “I will start as any new employee does: with eyes wide open; a bunch of questions and an attentive ear. In the days, weeks and months ahead, I will be on a listening and learning tour. Today is a great day to be a Skyhawk.”
PHOTO CAPTION: New UT Martin athletics director Julio Freire (left) is welcomed to the university by Chancellor Tom Rakes during Monday’s press conference at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center. Freire succeeds Phil Dane who retired from the position after serving as athletics director since 2000.
What Industry Leaders Are Saying About Julio Freire:
“Congratulations to UT Martin for their selection of Julio Freire as their director of athletics. Julio has worked hard for many years to learn and develop the skills and experience necessary to lead an intercollegiate athletics department. He will exemplify a leader who focuses on the well-being of the student-athletes, knows how to help coaches achieve success and understands the significant importance of higher education.”
-Dutch Baughman, Executive Director, Division 1A Athletic Directors’ Association
“Julio Freire is an outstanding choice as the director of athletics at UT Martin. Julio’s unwavering commitment to a student-athlete will benefit students, faculty, staff and the university community in many ways. Julio is a tireless worker, an enthusiastic advocate and a terrific leader who will have an incredibly positive impact on all those he encounters. Congratulations and best wishes.
-Bubba Cunningham, Director of Athletics, University of North Carolina
“Congratulations to UT Martin. Julio Freire is one of the very brightest and talented athletic administrators I have ever been around. There is not an area of intercollegiate athletics he is not familiar with. Student-athletes, staff, university and alums have just brightened your outstanding future at your wonderful university. UT Martin, in baseball terms you have just hit a grand slam home run.”
-Jim Livengood, Former Director of Athletics at UNLV, University of Arizona, Washington State University and Southern Illinois University
“I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing Julio Freire for over 10 years. At all times, Julio has embodied and modeled a code of conduct that we would wish upon every student-athlete: focus, work ethic, endurance, a competitive spirit and a commitment to excellence. Honor and integrity are often mere buzzwords but for Julio, they represent his way of life. Amongst the array of intercollegiate administrators across the United States, Julio Freire stands amongst the very best in terms of his preparation. Julio now brings his wealth of knowledge, skills, experiences and relationships to bear on the UT Martin community. You will find that Julio understands the complexities, opportunities and benefits of a successful athletics enterprise. As a former student-athlete, Julio also understands the transformative power of the intercollegiate athletics experience. UT Martin – prepare yourself. A professional and true gentleman is coming your way – his name is Julio Freire.”
-Tom Thomas, President and CEO of Cardinal Advisors
“No one that I know in our profession has prepared themselves to take on a major leadership role with more diligence and purpose than Julio Freire. He is thoughtful and a relationship builder, which is evident in his extraordinary work as a development officer. His work ethic is unmatched. Most importantly, he is a highly principled servant leader who will be a terrific addition to the UT Martin community.:
-Todd Turner, President and Founder of Collegiate Sports Associates
“UT Martin has made an exceptional hire in Julio Freire. He will bring immeasurable experience, particularly in fundraising, from a variety of top-notch institutions to the position. Most importantly, he will exhibit tremendous passion and an unwavering commitment to excellence every day that will greatly benefit the UT Martin athletics family for years to come. Having known and respected Julio since the 1990’s, this is the ultimate home run hire for the Skyhawks.”
-Kevin White, Vice President, Director of Athletics, Duke University