Chancellor Henry T. Yang appointed Mark Massari UC Santa Barbara's 13th Director of Athletics on August 18, 2008. Massari succeeded Dr. Gary Cunningham, who retired after leading the department to unprecedented success in competition and the classroom for 13 years.
He oversees an athletic department with 20 Division I intercollegiate teams and 500 student-athletes, which has won more Big West Conference Commissioner's Cups (for best all-around athletics program annually) than all other eight schools combined.
Bringing a strong background in external marketing, Massari launched the "Dare to Be Great" campaign in his first year. The strategic plan strengthened traditions with a letterwinners program, created an annual giving effort, addressed facility improvements and increased student-athlete outreach and academic success.
Academically the Gauchos have soared, reaching an all time high 85% NCAA graduation success rate – second highest within the University of California system. UCSB is one of only 62 members of the distinguished Association of American Universities (AAU).
He established the Gaucho Fund, resulting in the largest number of annual donors to athletics ever, the first one million dollar gift to a women's program (basketball) and the largest single gift (two million dollars to support tennis) in UCSB Athletics history. In 2013, a major gift bestowed alumnus’ Jim and Cheryl Barber with the naming of academic success and student services wing of the Intercollegiate Athletics building in their honor.
Massari introduced the "Walk of Champions" plan, when debuting the $12 million campaign for the new aquatics center, as a conceptual road map to address capital project needs sport-by-sport. The plan raised funds for renovations to Harder Stadium highlighted by a new plaza entrance (Curtice Gate) named for admired former head football coach and athletics director “Cactus” Jack Curtice. The series of facility improvements was in preparation for the successful hosting of the 2010 NCAA College Cup, the first national championship event held on campus in 35 years. Donors have generously funded renovated locker rooms and team spaces for both basketball programs at the Thunderdome. The plan also calls for Gaucho Park plaza entrance for baseball and after a successful 2013 collaboration with students, renovations to Robertson Gym interior and Pauley Track.
Mark has introduced a flurry of marketing, outreach and donor stewardship programs such as One Donation is Gold, Living Scholars, The Gaucho Order (athletics alumni board), Legends of the Dome, Thunder Row, Gauchos Give, Dare magazine, Gauchos in Thirty television show, Great Examples, GKids, and the "This is Soccer Heaven" campaign. Through Gauchos Give, department and student-athlete outreach reaches 5,000 hours collectively in community service each year, an all time high.
Beginning in 2009, the nationally prominent men's soccer program began leading the nation in annual attendance while also setting the record for the largest crowd to watch a collegiate soccer match on campus in NCAA history. In addition, men's basketball earned consecutive NCAA appearances for first time in program history and baseball returned to an NCAA Regional for the first time in 12 years.
Massari has made several promising hires including Carlene Mitchell who led women’s basketball to an NCAA and WNIT in her first two seasons; Andrew Checketts who has guided baseball to its highest national ranking (#10) in 30 years; Nicole Lantange Welch who directed a storied women’s volleyball program to its 28th NCAA appearance and first Big West title in eight years and Simon Thibodeau who has led women's tennis to its highest national ranking in 20 years. He also secured two of the Gauchos all time wins leaders, Bob Williams in men’s basketball and Tim Vom Steeg men’s soccer, to contract extensions.
At the conference level, Mark serves on the Big West Executive Council and chaired the marketing and championships committee instrumental in moving its postseason basketball tournament to the Honda Center in 2012. He is also a member of the NCAA I-AAA board, NCAA’s mentoring program and National Association of Collegiate Director of Athletics (NACDA).
Prior to UCSB, Mark served as senior associate athletics director for external affairs at Oregon State University. During his almost seven years in Corvallis, the Beavers successfully completed $115 million in capital projects, played in six football bowl games and won back-to-back baseball national championships.
Before working with the Pac-12 school, the California native spent three years directing radio and broadcasting for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers and its flagship and five years with the University of Miami (Fla) leading sports marketing and sales for the Hurricanes. He began his career at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, Calif.
Massari played football at Sacramento State, earning a bachelor's degree in history, and has a master's degree from Duquesne University.
He and his wife Kimberly, a UC Berkeley grad, have a daughter Madeline and son Joseph.