Ian McCaw has a vision for Liberty Athletics, and he has worked quickly to make that vision a reality since being named the department's 11th director of athletics on Nov. 28, 2016.
His vision is for Liberty's intercollegiate athletics program to Train Champions for Christ, provide a world-class student-athlete experience, and achieve victory with integrity.
McCaw has lived out this mission, guiding Liberty Athletics to unparalleled success on the field, in the classroom and the local community in a short time on Liberty Mountain.
Heading into the 2020-21 athletics season, Liberty's teams have captured 26 total conference titles since McCaw's arrival on Liberty Mountain. The Flames football program won it's first-ever bowl game, men's basketball captured it's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, and Liberty student-athletes have posted department record numbers in GPA and graduation success rate.
Less than three months into his time at the head of the Athletics Department, McCaw helped launch Liberty into the top level of intercollegiate competition. On Feb. 16, 2017, Liberty received notification that the NCAA had approved its request to enter into a two-year Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) reclassification process.
McCaw led Liberty during its final season as a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) independent in 2017 and guided the Flames into their first season at the FBS level in 2018 — fulfilling the vision of university founder, Rev. Jerry Falwell, for Liberty's Athletics programs to compete at the highest level of NCAA competition.
During Liberty's final two seasons as a member of the Big South Conference, McCaw guided Liberty Athletics to its 13th and 14th Sasser Cup titles in 2017 and 2018, an annual award given to the top athletics program in the conference.
McCaw also helped pave the way for the future of Liberty Athletics on May 17, 2018, when it was announced that 17 of the 20 NCAA Division I programs will end a 27-year run in the Big South Conference to join the ASUN Conference for the 2018-19 athletics season.
Under McCaw's leadership, Liberty Athletics wasted little time making an impact in the ASUN Conference. During its inaugural season as a conference member, Liberty's athletics programs captured seven ASUN championship titles, including men's basketball (regular season and tournament), baseball (tournament), women's tennis (regular season), men's indoor track & field, women's indoor track & field, men's outdoor track & field and women's outdoor track & field.
Additionally, Liberty Athletics was awarded the Bill Bibb Trophy, which is presented to the ASUN Conference institution with the top overall athletics program.
Liberty was also presented with the ASUN Conference's Jesse Fletcher (Men's All-Sports) and Sherman Day (Women's All-Sports) Trophies. This marked the third time in conference history a member institution has swept all three honors and the first time since FGCU did so in 2012-13.
On the gridiron, Liberty's football program caught the attention of many at the FBS level with the Flames' success during the program's inaugural season at the highest level of collegiate football.
Liberty finished with a 6-6 record in 2018, becoming the ninth team in NCAA history to win six or more games in its first year of FBS football.
The Flames continued their success in 2019, posting an 8-5 record, the team's highest win total since 2014. Liberty became only the third team in NCAA history to win a bowl game during its first full season at the FBS level by defeating Georgia Southern, 23-16, in the 2019 FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Fla.,
Liberty's men's basketball program has also experienced unprecedented success since McCaw's arrival on campus. The Flames have won back-to-back ASUN Conference titles (2019 and 2020) and posted an upset win over No. 5 seed Mississippi State in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The first-round victory marked the first time in program history Liberty had won an NCAA Tournament game.
The Flames are also succeeding in the classroom, as Liberty's student-athletes posted a 3.24 cumulative GPA following the 2019-20 academic year. In addition, the NCAA announced the athletics department's graduation success rate was at 88 percent in November 2019. Both marks are the highest recorded in department history.
McCaw is well equipped to lead Liberty at the highest level of college athletics, having nearly two decades of previous service as director of athletics at Baylor (2003-16), Massachusetts (2002-03), and Northeastern (1997-2002).
During his time at Baylor, the Bears experienced tremendous success on the field, in the classroom, and in fundraising and facility development. McCaw helped Baylor capture five team national championships (acrobatics & tumbling, 2015; equestrian, 2012; men's tennis, 2004; and women's basketball, 2005 and 2012), had 17 student-athletes win individual national championships (track & field and men's and women's tennis), and captured 58 Big 12 Conference titles.
Baylor's football team reached bowl games for six consecutive years (2010-15) and won the Big 12 Championship in 2013 and 2014. The Bears' Robert Griffin III became the nation's top collegiate football player in 2011 when he was named the school's first ever Heisman Trophy winner.
During his final five seasons at Baylor, the Bears' football and men's and women's basketball programs posted a combined 350-84 record, the best mark in the country during that span.
Under McCaw's watch, student-athletes thrived in the classroom as Baylor finished first or second in the Big 12 in graduation success rate in seven of his last nine years. The school recorded its highest ever cumulative GPA in 2015-16 (3.34).
While Baylor enjoyed extraordinary academic and athletic success under McCaw's leadership, his department also made significant administrative strides.
Above and Beyond, a five-year strategic plan for intercollegiate athletics, was developed and implemented to achieve the department's goals and objectives. An outgrowth of this plan was the creation and successful completion of the Victory with Integrity and From Here We Build development campaigns. During his 13 years as Baylor's director of athletics, the department raised more than $390 million for capital projects and student-athlete scholarships.
While at Baylor, McCaw created a robust sports ministry program that included student-athlete and team mission trips and service programs, and he strengthened the school's relationship with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Prior to his days at Baylor, McCaw served as the director of athletics at the University of Massachusetts during the 2002-03 academic year. At UMass, he was responsible for a 23-sport program, helping develop and implement a five-year strategic plan and secure funding for basketball locker room renovations.
Prior to his time at UMass, McCaw served as director of intercollegiate athletics and campus recreation at Northeastern from 1997-2002. During the last of his five years with the Huskies, Northeastern captured a school-record six America East Conference championships and had five teams finish among the nation's top 20.
McCaw went to Northeastern from Tulane, where he served as senior associate athletic director for development and associate athletic director for external affairs from 1992-97. He was also Tulane's co-interim director of athletics in 1996.
Prior to his years at Tulane, McCaw worked in a variety of athletic administrative posts at the University of Maine from 1986-92, including sports information, marketing, and external affairs.
Recognized as a national leader in intercollegiate athletics, McCaw has served as chair of the NCAA Recruiting and Personnel Issues Cabinet. He was also a member of the Big 12 Television & Game Management and Officiating Committees. Additionally, he served on the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Executive Committee and was on the Division I-A Athletics Director Association Board of Trustees.
McCaw was named 2014-15 FBS NACDA Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year and was a finalist for the 2012 and 2015 Sports Business Journal Athletics Director of the Year awards. He was named the 2012 NACDA West Region Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year and the 2010 Waco Tribune-Herald Central Texas Sportsman of the Year. He also received the 2013 VanderZwaag Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Massachusetts Sport Management Program.
McCaw earned his master's degree in sport management from Massachusetts in 1987, after receiving a bachelor's degree in sports administration at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, in 1985. McCaw and his wife, Heather, have four children: Christy, Paul, Callie, and Corinne.