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Hollis wants to raise USF's image

During his interview, Michigan State associate AD stresses his contacts and ability to promote big events.

Published May 5, 2004

TAMPA - Big-name, national football programs coming to Raymond James Stadium every year.

An annual, heavily marketed basketball game at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Nike everywhere, blanketing South Florida's athletic programs.

Mark Hollis has grand ideas for boosting USF's prestige, and the finalist for the school's athletic director position shared them with the search committee Tuesday.

"The (USF) athletic department is unknown on a national level," Hollis said. "I have the ability to take South Florida and put it on the national stage."

He has a background of achieving such lofty goals. As the marketing specialist at Michigan State, Hollis created the highest attended hockey and basketball games.

The Cold War at Spartan Stadium and BasketBowl at Ford Field each drew more than 70,000. His latest project is a basketball game on an aircraft carrier in 2005. Also, MSU football, basketball and hockey have sold out for the past five years.

Thus when Hollis, 41, says he could "bring in Notre Dame tomorrow" for a non-conference football game with the Big East-bound Bulls, it resonates.

"I can immediately provide some national contacts," said Hollis, who said he would push to have USF play host to Big East championship events. "You get in that door with the relationships you've built."

Hollis gave a 35-minute PowerPoint demonstration featuring images of USF and projections for its athletic development. He also detailed his achievements as an assistant commissioner in the Western Athletic Conference and associate AD at Pittsburgh before becoming associate AD at MSU, where he has been for 10 years.

Cooperative arrangements with the Buccaneers, Lightning and Devil Rays are a high priority.

"You want to develop those partnerships," said Hollis, who had an image of himself playing goaltender at a Detroit Red Wings practice. "I believe you need to be part of the pro teams and part of the local corporations."

Hollis, who has an MBA from Colorado, negotiated General Motors' largest college sports marketing agreement and bowl matchups for Michigan State, and he touted his connections with Nike. (USF has some Nike agreements but not a blanket deal.)

"A relationship with Nike can get you into almost every retail market in the world," Hollis said. "The return has been astonishing."

Hollis is the third of four finalists. Doug Woolard, the Saint Louis AD, meets with the search committee at 2:30 p.m. today. It will choose Lee Roy Selmon's successor Thursday. The committee's choice will need final approval from president Judy Genshaft.

[Last modified May 5, 2004, 01:00:41]

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