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Alex Riker Gilbert with NACDA Award

Alex Ricker-Gilbert Named NACDA Athletic Director of the Year

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) announced the 28 winners of its Athletics Director of the Year Award (ADOY) on Wednesday and Jacksonville Senior Vice President and Athletic Director Alex Ricker-Gilbert was chosen as one of four recipients for Division I-AAA . The award spans seven divisions (NCAA FBS, FCS, Division I-AAA, II, III, NAIA/Other Four-Year Institutions and Junior College/Community Colleges). Winners will be recognized leading up to and in conjunction with the 2021 NACDA & Affiliates Virtual Convention, July 27-28.

The ADOY Award highlights the efforts of athletics directors at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses and their surrounding communities.

“As we reflect upon all that has happened in our industry and in our world over the past year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to honor the dedication and passion that NACDA athletics directors have for their student-athletes, institutions and campus communities,” said Bob Vecchione, NACDA Chief Executive Officer. “This year we certainly could recognize every AD in the country with this award. We applaud the efforts of the men and women across the country who have served as a source of inspiration and strength in leading their departments through this unprecedented time.”

Ricker-Gilbert, currently in his fifth year as Athletic Director for the Dolphins, was tasked with guiding the department through the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic and at the top of his messaging throughout, was the health and welfare of Jacksonville’s student-athletes first and foremost. His roles on the NCAA Legislation Committee (Vice Chair) and the NCAA Division I Council, allowed him to maintain a pulse on the national landscape as the pandemic and is effects took shape. His oversight of the development of JU’s COVID-19 protocols has resulted in minimal disruptions following the start to the basketball seasons and beyond.  

“It is truly humbling to be honored and recognized as a NACDA Athletic Director of the Year,” Ricker-Gilbert said. “This type of award is more of a reflection of our wonderful staff than it is of me. I am fortunate to have incredible leadership around me. Our focus is and always will be on our student-athletes.”

Despite the limitations of telecommunication, Alex’s budget-conscious approach allowed him to galvanize the necessary financial backing to break ground on a basketball performance center on campus in the fall. The facility will serve as a home and practice facility for the men’s and women’s basketball programs and is expected to open by the end of the calendar year.

In February, the department’s annual week-long micro giving campaign “Dolphin Dash” raised a record $791,712 with contributions from nearly 4,000 unique donors.

While the majority of classes moved to an online format, with many of the Dolphins scattered around the country and globe with seasons canceled or postponed, the department still achieved the highest GPA in his history. Ricker-Gilbert himself, completed his MBA in the Summer of 2020.

On the more person-to-person side of things, Ricker-Gilbert’s staff describes him as approachable, inclusive and welcoming. He’s very present with the student-athletes and takes the time to get to know each and every one of them, often attending practices, team, or zoom meetings and is regularly the most passionate supporter of each team from the stands or sidelines.

The Athletics Director of the Year distinction is the first of Ricker-Gilbert’s career, but his focus and commitment remains on enhancing the Jacksonville student-athlete experience. His tireless efforts and focus on that mission drive him and this department forward each and every day.

Story courtesy of:
Matt Moretti III
Student-Athlete Services