Josh Whitman was named the John M. Schael Director of Athletics after spending the last four years as Director of Athletics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Whitman replaced veteran AD John Schael, who announced his retirement in January 2014 following 36 years of leading the Washington U. Department of Athletics.
Whitman wasted no time in solidifying UW-L Athletics as one of the nation’s premier NCAA Division III athletic programs. He guided the Eagles to four national championships and 19 NCAA/National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) individual titles. Under his leadership, the Eagles collected 21 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) crowns and finished in the top-five at NCAA championship events on 17 different occasions. In the 2013-14 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, UW-L finished 13th nationally.
Aggressive resource development was a hallmark of Whitman’s four years leading UW-L Athletics. During his tenure, the operating budget increased nearly 50 percent and he was responsible for soliciting numerous major gifts. He also launched a corporate sponsorship program that grew to produce more than $200,000 annually in cash and in-kind support for the athletic program.
With these increased resources, Whitman aggressively expanded and improved the department’s staff. At the time of his departure from UW-L, he oversaw a full and part-time professional and student staff of nearly 100. Whitman hired 14 of those staff members, including five head coaches.
The increase in revenue also resulted in dramatic improvements to facilities. Notable projects included a new gymnastics practice facility, currently in the planning stages ($3.5 million); four new scoreboards, including a stadium video board ($900,000); a renovated baseball facility ($600,000); a new softball facility ($500,000); and a new weight training facility ($160,000).
Whitman began his career in athletics administration with his alma mater, the University of Illinois, where he served as the Assistant to the Athletic Director from 2007-08 and Coordinator of Special Projects from 2005-07. While at Illinois, Whitman was involved in numerous aspects of the athletic department’s operations, including development, marketing, sports information and communications, internal operations, and student-athlete programs.
While in Champaign, Whitman attended the University of Illinois College of Law. He received his Juris Doctor, summa cum laude, in May 2008. Upon graduation from law school, Whitman served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable M.S. Kanne on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He then joined the Washington, D.C., law firm of Covington & Burling LLP, which has a nationally recognized sports practice and serves as the primary outside counsel to the National Football League.
A native of West Lafayette, Ind., Whitman was a decorated scholar-athlete at the University of Illinois. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree with highest honors in finance in 2001, when he was recognized as a member of the Bronze Tablet (awarded to the top three percent of the graduating class). As a tight end for the Fighting Illini football team, Whitman was a four-year letterwinner and a two-time College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) First Team Academic All-America (1999, 2000) selection.
Whitman, who earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten Honors as a senior, was one of six Division I-A recipients of the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award in 2000. He was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree (1998, 1999, 2000) and was recognized as the Illinois Outstanding Male Scholar-Athlete three consecutive years (1998, 1999, 2000).
Following his graduation from Illinois, Whitman pursued a professional playing career in the NFL. Over a four-year period, he spent time with the Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, and Miami Dolphins, as well as with the Frankfurt Galaxy of the now-defunct NFL Europe. He retired from the NFL following the 2004 season.
Whitman, 36, is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and remains licensed to practice law in the state of Illinois and the District of Columbia.