James Madison Selects Matt Roan As Next Director of Athletics

May 1, 2024

HARRISONBURG, VA – James Madison University President Jonathan Alger and the university Board of Visitors announced the appointment of Matt Roan as the institution’s new director of athletics. Roan arrives following four years as AD at Eastern Kentucky University.

CSA is honored to have assisted President Alger and the Search Committee with this highly competitive search.

“Matt Roan is an exceptional leader and rising star in the field,” Alger said. “He brings years of experience as a sitting Division I director of athletics, along with a sophisticated understanding of the rapidly evolving national landscape. He has a firm grasp of our academic mission, financial matters and the many different aspects of this position and is a proven relationship-builder with constituencies both on and off campus. Matt’s strong passion for JMU and its potential shone through in the interview process.”

“I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to join the team at James Madison University and for the trust placed in me by President Alger to lead James Madison Athletics,” said Roan. “This opportunity is special as it represents the ideal intersection of what is most important to me personally and professionally. I look forward to working in alignment with the Board of Visitors and my colleagues as we strive for excellence for the institution and athletics alike. My family and I look forward to making the JMU community home, engaging with the many stakeholders who are passionate about the Dukes, and continuing with the incredible trajectory established by Mr. Jeff Bourne, outstanding student-athletes, coaches and staff.”

Roan is a Virginia native with deep ties to the Commonwealth, hailing from southwest Virginia and attending both Hargrave Military Academy and Virginia Tech. He completed his undergraduate degree as a student-athlete at Southern Utah University and went on to earn a law degree from the University of Kentucky in 2012. He served as deputy AD at Southern Utah and Eastern Kentucky University before then assuming the AD position at Nicholls State University in 2016. He returned to EKU as AD in 2020 and will enter his ninth year as a Division I director of athletics when he takes over at James Madison in May.

A transformational leader, Roan made an immediate impact on the Colonels’ athletics program, lifting the department across multiple areas and, in many ways, paralleling the infrastructure in place at James Madison. Roan guided EKU and its 18 sports through a conference transition to the Atlantic Sun in 2021, while playing a key role in forming the ASUN-WAC FCS football partnership (now the United Athletic Conference). In addition to the transition, he reorganized the entire athletics construct, adding 57 coaches (including hiring five head coaches) and staff in four years, making significant investment in facility projects and increasing external revenue streams.

In just four years, nearly every EKU program benefitted from some form of facility upgrade, highlighted by work commencing on a more than $40 million renovation to Alumni Coliseum, the home of Colonels basketball and volleyball. The department constructed a new beach volleyball venue and repurposed its Olympic Sports Training Center for soccer, cross country and track and field. Various other projects included: resurfacing Tom Samuels Track and adding new fencing and lighting, new turf at Roy Kidd Stadium (football) and Presnell practice fields along with new lighting, a new tailgating courtyard near Roy Kidd Stadium, a renovated football operations center with academic lab space, new turf and outfield wall at baseball, new Daktronics video boards at baseball and softball and upgrades at the tennis facilities.

On the academic front, EKU achieved a 3.00 or higher department GPA in each semester during Roan’s time as AD and collected the NCAA’s academic-based revenue distribution in each year. In the last two Academic Progress Rate (APR) reporting cycles, the Colonels collected six and seven perfect single-year scores.

Fundraising and external revenue generation took significant steps under Roan’s supervision with increases from the 2020 fiscal year to 2023 in total fundraising (112%), number of gifts (97%), number of donors (84%), sponsorships (29%) and ticket sales (115%). Notable highlights include the two first-ever naming rights agreements in the department’s history. As a result, the total operating budget for intercollegiate athletics grew by about 50% in his four years. Attendance increased across all sports, including men’s basketball leading the ASUN in attendance for the first time in 2022-23. Football ranked top 20 in the FCS in average attendance in each season.

At Nicholls State, Roan spearheaded a 17-sport department for more than three years, again increasing staff and guiding the Colonels to significant competitive achievements. He hired four head coaches, including a men’s basketball coach who captured two regular season titles, and strategically increased coaching staff allocations for women’s basketball, softball, track and field. He also added a dedicated senior woman’s administrator, removing the position from a coaching role. Nicholls increased its sports portfolio by adding beach volleyball and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field during his tenure.

Roan collected the largest gift in Nicholls history, a $2.52 million donation to allow construction to proceed on a 20,000 square foot football operations facility. He revamped the department’s development program, the Colonel Athletic Association, overhauling the organization’s structure and leading to increases in giving levels and number of donors. Ticket revenue in football and basketball increased in each year under Roan’s watch.

An active representation on multiple national committees, Roan currently represents the ASUN on the 40-member Division I Council and the Division I FCS Football Oversight Committee. He previously served on the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee and the FCS Athletic Directors Executive Committee.

Roan served as Deputy AD at EKU from 2013 to 2016 and also held the same title at Southern Utah the year prior. He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 2012 and worked in athletics at UK in football administration and as an academic tutor/mentor. Other previous athletics work included a year as a football assistant coach at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., and two years of event support at Southern Utah.

After graduating from Pulaski County High School in Dublin, Virginia, Roan spent three semesters at Virginia Tech before then transferring to Southern Utah, where the summa cum laude graduate earned his Bachelor of Science in political science in 2007 while also minoring in history. He was a three-time All-Great West Football Conference honoree (2005-07) and a two-time ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-District recipient. Roan was invited in 2007 to the East Coast Bowl and played in the 2008 Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Game. He participated in rookie minicamp activities with the Minnesota Vikings in 2008.

Matt and Mallory Roan have four children, including daughters Gattlyn and Radley and sons Catcher and Shepard.

Roan takes over near the conclusion of one of the most successful years in JMU Athletics history. The Dukes lead the Bubas Cup, the Sun Belt’s all-sports trophy, and rank 74th in the Learfield Director’s Cup. James Madison went 11-2 in football to finish first in the Sun Belt East and qualify for the program’s first FBS bowl game in its second reclassifying season. Men’s basketball set a program wins record with a 32-4 season as the Dukes won the Sun Belt and made an NCAA Second Round appearance for the first time in 41 years. Men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball each garnered at-large bids to the NCAA Championships, with men’s soccer reaching the round of 16. Swimming and diving won the Sun Belt in its first season competing in the conference. Cross country and volleyball each finished second in the Sun Belt while women’s basketball also finished as runner up in the SBC tournament. Six teams – men’s soccer, football, men’s basketball, baseball, lacrosse and volleyball – have been ranked or receiving votes in top 25 polls this year.

Jeff Bourne announced his retirement as director of athletics in September and will officially exit at the end of April. The 2023-24 JMU Athletics achievements earned him one of five nominations for the Sports Business Journal AD of the Year honor as well as one of four honorees for FBS AD of the Year from the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. Bourne aided the hiring committee in the search process with Collegiate Sports Associates serving as search consultant.

“James Madison Athletics has had unparalleled success throughout my 25 years and particularly recently as our national brand blossomed,” Bourne said. “When we climbed to FBS football and the Sun Belt Conference, we believed that we would not have to sacrifice winning as we ‘leveled up.’ Now that James Madison is fully reclassified as FBS for the 2024-25 season, Matt Roan is the perfect individual to build upon that success and steer JMU to even greater heights. The university’s emphasis for this hire was pairing the pedigree of an accomplished leader with the fit and culture of our institution, and we feel that we achieved that goal to perfection in this search. I’ve known Matt for a long time and am confident in his ability to lead this department. Mary Lou and I are thrilled to welcome the Roan family to JMU Nation!”

For the full release from JMU Athletics, click HERE.

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