Athletics

Meet Ian McCaw

June 1, 2017

Liberty University welcomed Ian McCaw as its new director of athletics last fall. Previously, McCaw spent 13 years as athletic director at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. During that time, Baylor captured five national team championships and 58 Big 12 Conference titles. McCaw has also served as athletics director at the University of Massachusetts (2002-03) and Northeastern University (1997-2002). He started his career in athletics media relations for the University of Maine, then transitioned to Tulane University, where he managed a number of areas.
Did you always want to work in sports?
“I grew up just outside of Toronto in Canada and, like a lot of youth, I played a lot of sports. I knew in my teenage years that I wasn’t going to be able to make a career out of playing sports, but I had a passion for business as well. I wanted to combine business with sports and was fortunate to go to Laurentian University, which has a sport management program that prepared me and combined two passions that ended up creating my career path.”
When did the desire to work in college athletics, specifically, hit you?
“During my time at UMass (where McCaw earned his master’s degree), I was doing an internship with the Hartford Whalers (now the Carolina Hurricanes) and got a taste of professional sports. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I liked working in college athletics with student-athletes. I especially was gratified watching the transformation of student-athletes between the ages of 18-22 — from seeing them come in as freshmen to seeing them mature academically, athletically, spiritually, and socially. To get to observe this growth is something that drives and excites me. That’s why I decided to make a career in college athletics.”
In the last 20-30 years, what have you seen as the biggest change in college athletics from a business or fan standpoint?
“I believe the biggest change has been television. Television has changed everything in terms of the resources that are brought into college athletics, along with the tremendous exposure and the ability to build the university’s brand. That has clearly been the number one change, and it’s affected everything from the visibility of a program, to salary structure, to the competitive nature of college athletics. It’s been the game changer.”
Which accomplishments during your time at Baylor are you most proud of?
“We were blessed to experience incredible growth at Baylor from humble beginnings in 2003, when it had a $26 million budget and was a struggling athletics program. We weren’t winning very much and had a lot of challenges in just about every area of the program. In the first five years, we went from being at the bottom of the Big 12 to becoming competitive, and in the next five years we went from good to great. I was grateful for the opportunity to hire and work with some great coaches and staff, and to help develop some extraordinary student-athletes. Most Baylor fans will remember the national championships and the Big 12 championships; however, the student-athletes’ performance in the classroom, earning a 3.3 grade point average — the highest on record — and the sports ministry program will have the most lasting impact. Thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends, we were also able to invest about $400 million into new facilities. So it took a lot of people coming together to build one of the top athletics programs in the nation and that’s what I’ll remember.”
How has your first year at Liberty been going?
“It’s been incredible. The way I describe Liberty to colleagues around the country is that we have game-changing facilities and life-changing people. We have a beautiful campus, and the athletics facilities are first rate. We have incredible coaches and staff who have the ability to pour into people and transform lives.”
If you could tell Flames fans your vision for Liberty Athletics, what would you say?
“We need to rally everyone together and unite Flames Nation behind the athletics program if we’re going to achieve all the vision and goals that we have established. We have great coaches, staff, and student-athletes — obviously, they work hard to build this athletics program each day. Yet to reach our full potential, we need our alumni, the Lynchburg community, our donors, and Flames Club members, faculty, staff, and students to rally around this program. I see Liberty Athletics becoming the premier evangelical Christian athletics program in America, similar to what Notre Dame is to the Catholic community and BYU is to the Mormon community. This program is one that has a very high ceiling, and we’re looking forward to realizing that.”
What does Liberty represent to you?
“Liberty represents the pinnacle of professional and personal opportunity where we’re going to develop Champions for Christ, provide a world-class student-athlete experience, and achieve victory with integrity. We desire to have Christian student-athletes from throughout the country and around the world grow up dreaming of competing for Liberty University.”
Where do you see the success of the men’s basketball program headed under Head Coach Ritchie McKay’s leadership?
“Ritchie McKay is doing a terrific job and has the program on a rapid upward trajectory. There’s been a remarkable turnaround in his first two years, and we have a lot of momentum. He’s recruited at a very high level, developed a positive culture within the program, and I’m excited about what he and his staff are doing to elevate Liberty basketball. The student-athletes in that program represent Liberty extremely well on the court, on campus, and in the classroom.”
Tell us about your family.
“Heather and I met in Maine, where she was born and raised. She played field hockey at the University of Maine when we first met. She began her teaching career at Maine and we met through one of her best friends and one of my best friends, who introduced us. I hosted a Bible study and through that time of fellowship, we got to know each other and eventually married. Four kids later, we have a wonderful family that includes three daughters and a son.”

Get the e-magazine straight to your inbox!

It only takes a click to unsubscribe.