Steve O'Brien, who has 11 years of progressive NCAA Division I athletics administration senior level management experience and success, accepted the position of deputy director of athletics at San Jose State University. Marie Tuite, the Spartans' director of athletics made the announcement.
O'Brien joins San Jose State University after spending six years as a senior associate athletics director at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., two years as an associate athletics director at UC Santa Barbara and three years at his alma mater, Santa Clara University.
His wide-ranging background in college athletics administration includes developing revenue-generating opportunities, sports supervision, facilities enhancement, teaming with compliance officers to resolve student-athlete eligibility issues, creating plans for academic success, introducing life skills programs for student-athletes, enhancing alumni and student body relations, and NCAA committee service.
With the Midshipmen, he transformed the athletics department's development activities and created new strategies that resulted in a 10-fold increase from $1.2-million in annual revenues to more than $13-million a year. More than $76-million in revenues from contributions, pledges, ticket and suite revenues, corporate sales and other forms of income were attributable to his initiatives.
A 1998 graduate with honors from Santa Clara University, O'Brien's first position in intercollegiate athletics was at his alma mater from 2006 to 2009. He worked in academics as an academic support manager and then as an assistant athletics director responsible for the operation and management of the Bronco Bench Foundation. The grade-point average for the Bronco student-athlete population exceeded 3.00 on a 4.00 scale for the first time in school history during his watch.
The Bronco Bench Foundation raised $1.5-million annually, the largest amount at the time for student-athlete scholarships by a West Coast Conference member institution. He also coordinated the efforts of the Ruff Riders, a 4,000-member student support group for the university and its athletics teams.
O'Brien was named the associate athletics director for development at UC Santa Barbara in 2009. He supervised sports, created revenue streams for facility improvements, and managed all aspects of athletics fund raising with an emphasis on major gifts and capital campaigns. O'Brien created the Gaucho Fund, which increased 70 percent in two years, UCSB's Living Scholar program in which the number of top-tier donors doubled and a multi-million dollar capital campaign, The Walk of Champions.
The San Jose native earned his juris doctorate from the University of Southern California in 2001. He worked as a transactional finance and real estate attorney for law firms in Los Angeles and East Palo Alto until 2006 when he began his intercollegiate athletics administration career. O'Brien still possesses his California State Bar Association license to practice law in California. He is in the midst of serving a three-year term on the NCAA's Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct.
A men's cross country letterwinner at Santa Clara University, he was named his team's Most Inspirational Athlete in 1997.