BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech announced Monday that the contract of director of athletics Whit Babcock has been extended five years through June 2029.
Babcock was originally appointed to that post on Jan. 24, 2014. During his tenure he has continued to make a mark on all facets of Tech Athletics from academic and athletic accomplishment to fan engagement and facilities improvements, fundraising, and successful coaching hires.
“Whit Babcock and his roster of talented coaches have done an outstanding job, creating memorable moments for our students, alumni, and fans, and making the student-athlete experience their top priority,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “Whit and his leadership team have the right long-term vision and have demonstrated their ability to manage the rapidly changing landscape in collegiate athletics. I look forward to continuing our collective efforts on behalf of Virginia Tech.”
During the 2020-21 academic year, Babcock helped guide Tech Athletics through one of the most turbulent times in the modern history of college athletics as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted lives, families, and economies across the globe. Despite the unprecedented challenges, through the collective perseverance of Tech’s coaches, student-athletes, and staff, the Hokies produced some of the most impressive collective results in school history.
In the classroom, 16 of Tech’s teams registered a collective 3.0 or better team GPA during both the fall and spring semesters in 2020-21. In terms of competitive success, the Hokies finished No. 32 in the Learfield Director’s Cup standings, Tech’s second-highest performance in those rankings, trailing only a No. 28 finish in 2017-18.
Virginia Tech’s men’s and women’s basketball teams both made the NCAA Tournament in the same season for the first time in school history, as men’s basketball coach Mike Young was named the ACC Coach of the Year and women’s coach Kenny Brooks registered his 100th career win at Tech.
“During the interview process nearly eight years ago, I shared with the selection committee that Virginia Tech was the best job in the country,” Babcock said. “That sentiment hasn’t changed, my connection to Tech and Blacksburg has gotten even stronger. I’m honored to be a Hokie, there’s nowhere I’d rather be; this is my home.
“I’m thrilled to work for Dr. Sands and our Board of Visitors,” the AD said. “Our alignment is strong and we are just starting to hit our stride and achieve at never-before-achieved levels. Our success starts with our head coaches and the talented student-athletes they are able to recruit. This is collectively the best group of coaches and athletic administrators that I’ve ever worked with in my career. I’m thankful for all of them and it speaks to what we can achieve when we all work together as Hokies.”
On the football field, head coach Justin Fuente and the Hokies reclaimed the Commonwealth Cup and finished the 2020 season on a positive note with a convincing 33-15 victory to end the season vs. Virginia. The Hokies boasted a pair of first-round NFL Draft picks for the second time in four years. Meanwhile, Tech’s baseball squad under the direction of John Szefc returned to the national rankings and finished the year with 27 victories.
Under the leadership of Dave Cianelli, Tech’s men’s indoor track squad won the ACC indoor title by the largest margin in modern conference history. In 2021, Tech’s softball program, coached by Pete D’Amour, reached the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time since 2008. Tech’s women’s golf coach Carol Robertson continued leading her team to new heights as the Hokies qualified for the championship round of the NCAA Tournament in 2021 for the first time in program history.
Tech’s wrestling team under the direction of Tony Robie also continued its streak of NCAA Tournament appearances as eight individuals qualified for the NCAA Championships.
The men’s soccer program led by Mike Brizendine qualified for NCAA postseason competition for the fifth straight year and was rated as high as No. 4 in the nation. Standout performer Daniel Pereira made history as the school’s first No. 1 overall pick in the Major League Soccer draft.
Meanwhile, Sergio Lopez Miro continued the ascent of Tech’s swimming and diving program as both the men (No. 11) and the women (No. 15) were ranked in the Top 25 this past season.
The launch of the $400 million Reach for Excellence campaign in conjunction with Dr. Sands and other campus partners in April 2021 was another important milestone for the university and Tech Athletics. The major pillars of this campaign include a football enhancement fund, renovations to Cassell Coliseum, the ongoing Drive for 25 initiative to increase Hokie Club membership to 25,000, and other initiatives to help sustain comprehensive excellence in all sports and increase scholarship endowments.
During Babcock’s tenure, a number of major facilities projects have been transformed from vision to reality. Thanks to a $15.2 million gift, Tech’s $20.4 million Student-Athlete Performance Center was completed and went online serving meals on a daily basis to student-athletes in all sports in 2021. A $5 million renovation and expansion of the football strength and conditioning center was completed, and a new residence hall in Virginia Tech’s Creativity and Innovation District Residence Hall with 176 residence spaces for student-athletes is scheduled to open this fall.
In the spring of 2018, the athletics department concluded an $18 million renovation of English Field at Atlantic Union Bank Park, in large part because of a $3.5 million donation from Atlantic Union Bank secured by Babcock. Construction of a softball batting facility and the conversion of Rector Field House into a home for the Hokies’ track and field programs have also been completed under his watch, as have major upgrades at the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center.
Babcock and his team spent several years laying the groundwork for the launch of the ACC Network in August 2019. Those preparations included the completion of control rooms and engineering and office space in the south end zone of Lane Stadium with plans for studio space on the west side of the stadium facing Beamer Way.
The Harrisonburg, Va., native has received national recognition for his work at Virginia Tech. In June 2020, Stadium named him the No. 9 athletic director in the country. During the 2017-18 academic year, Babcock was named one of four Football Bowl Subdivision recipients of the Under Armour AD of the Year. The previous year, Babcock was one of five finalists for the AD of the Year honor handed out by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily.