University of Northern Iowa Director of Athletics Troy Dannen is currently in his seventh year at his alma mater.
During Dannen’s tenure at UNI, the Panthers have enjoyed an incredible run of success at both the conference and national level. The successes extend beyond the competitive and include unprecedented academic, fund-raising, business operations and marketing achievement. As a result, Dannen was honored by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) as Under Armour AD-of- the-Year (ADOY) in 2014.
The department’s cumulative grade point average has increased from 2.90 to 3.16 since 2008 and has exceeded the student body average at UNI in each of the last 11 semesters. UNI’s intercollegiate athletics graduation rate is 74 percent – exceeding the student body’s average of 65 percent. UNI’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) has increased from 961 to 984 since 2008.
In 2014, six teams including men’s basketball, men’s golf, women’s golf, women’s cross country, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball teams were recognized by the NCAA for multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores among the top 10% in the nation – the most for a single school in the Missouri Valley Conference. In 2013, five teams earned that recognition.
“We are proud of the commitment to social and academic success shown by our student-athletes, coaches and staff on a daily basis,” UNI Director of Athletics Troy Dannen said. “The NCAA's recognition of our achievement in the classroom validates that commitment, and earns Panther athletics an admirable place relative to our peers. We will continue to emphasize academic, athletic and social performance as the foundation of excellence among our 400 student-athletes.”
UNI successfully generated gift commitments totaling $27 million in the recently completed “Imagine the Impact” institutional fund-raising campaign – which exceeded the institutional target of $15 million by 80 percent. UNI has also seen its commitments to athletic scholarship endowments increase by 300 percent since 2008. A record $4.5 million was donated in FY2013, up from $2.5 million in FY2008.
Dannen oversaw the successful completion of Cycle 3 NCAA Certification in 2012. UNI’s generated revenues totaled 51 percent of the department’s budget in FY 2011 – marking the first time the department had generated more than half of its budget. In the current fiscal year, UNI’s generated revenues are projected to exceed 56 percent of its operating budget.
He has negotiated multi-year marketing deals with Learfield Sports (multi-media rights), Learfield-IMG Ticket Solutions (tickets) and Nike (apparel and equipment). He has also significantly increased the non-athletic events in the UNI-Dome and McLeod Center, which has allowed the facility budget to show a 20 percent operating surplus in each of the past three years. In each of the past three years, UNI ranked in the top-10 nationally in volleyball attendance.
Dannen’s footprint on UNI athletics can also be seen in facility development with $12 million in upgrades that includes the largest videoboard in an FCS stadium, a strength and conditioning center, administrative offices, an academic advising center, suites in the McLeod Center/UNI-Dome, renovation of the West Gym for a wrestling practice facility and men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling locker rooms/team rooms, ticket office and elevator to the McLeod Center and a point of sale system for the UNI athletics facilities.
As a by-product of these areas off the field successes, UNI athletics have thrived on the playing field. UNI has recognized 39 All-Americans, 13 Coaches of the Year and nine MVC Players of the Year. Football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball and softball have combined to reach 14 NCAA Tournaments since 2008. Under head coach Doug Schwab, who Dannen hired in 2010, the Panther wrestling program has risen to national prominence with the only perfect NCAA Division I record (13-0) in 2013-14.
UNI has also seen unprecedented individual accolades during Dannen's tenure. Josh Mahoney was the recipient of the 2010 Walter Byers Award. The award is open to all athletes in all sports in all divisions of play with one female and one male student-athlete being annually presented with the scholarship in recognition of outstanding academic achievement and potential for success in postgraduate study. The Byers Scholarship award is one of the highest honors the NCAA bestows on a student-athlete.
Jacqui Kalin became UNI's first women's basketball player named to the CoSIDA First-Team All-America squad in 2013. Kalin was awarded the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 2013. Kalin is one of six NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipients UNI has earned since Dannen took over as Director of Athletics.
UNI's NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Recipients (since 2008)
Adam McDonnell (Track & Field) - 2013-14
Jacqui Kalin (Women's Basketball) - 2012-13
Kyle Bernard (Football) - 2012-13
Ben Boothby (Football) - 2011-12
Josh Mahoney (Football) - 2009-10
Mat Clark (Track & Field) - 2009-10
He became the school’s fifth director of athletics since UNI turned Division I when he rejoined the Panther family in 2009. It was a homecoming for Dannen, who attended UNI as an undergraduate in the 1980s. He maintained close ties to the school during his nearly 20 years away from the University, and his passion and drive for the Purple and Gold was a key reason he chose to come back and guide the department.
For the six years prior to coming back to UNI, Dannen served as Executive Director of the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU). As the governing body for high school sports in the state of Iowa, the IGHSAU oversees nearly 400 schools and more than 70,000 students, in the 11 sports offered by the Union. Dannen had served in various capacities at the IGHSAU over 18 years, including nine years (1993-2002) as associate executive director.
Dannen remains active in the community. He is currently a member of the Iowa Games Board of Directors, and the Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitors Bureau. He has also served on the Greater Des Moines Sports Commission and the AAU Junior Olympics Local Organizing Committee, the Iowa Athletic Council, Iowa Referee Committee and the Drake Relays Committee. Dannen has also been active internationally, having twice been a presenter in Malaysia - at the request of the Olympic Council of Malaysia - on the topic of youth sports and sport program development. He was named to the “40 under 40” business leaders in Des Moines in 2003 and was named 4th among the most powerful Iowans in sports by the Des Moines Register in 2005.
Dannen is a member of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee. During the NCAA FCS season, the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee is charged with evaluating programs, participating in numerous regional and national conference calls, assisting other committee members with the selection of teams to the playoffs and the creation of the annual NCAA FCS Playoff bracket. Dannen served on the NCAA FCS Regional Advisory Committee in 2011 and 2012.
Born and raised on a farm near Marshalltown, Iowa, Dannen, 48, received his bachelor’s degree in communications from UNI in 1989.
He is married to his wife, Amy, who works for Astra-Zenica Pharmaceuticals, and has three daughters, Elle, Emily and Holly and a son, William.