As Troy Dannen enters his sixth year as Director of Athletics at his alma mater, the University of Northern Iowa, one word can describe what has happened over the past five seasons - SUCCESS. Under Dannen’s leadership, the Panthers have enjoyed success on the field, in the classroom and in the fundraising, marketing and fiscal environments.
In the last five seasons, UNI’s competitive success is unmatched at the FCS level. The Panthers have a combined 12 NCAA appearances in football, volleyball, men’s basketball and women’s basketball in that time frame.
The Panthers’ on field success continued in 2012-13. UNI advanced to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament for the seventh consecutive season. The UNI men’s basketball team won 20 games for the fifth straight season and has won a game in each of the last four postseason appearances. The UNI womens’ basketball team secured a postseason berth for the fourth consecutive time. UNI’s softball program advanced to the program’s second-ever NCAA Tournament by winning the 2013 MVC Tournament in Omaha, Neb. The Panther wrestling program crowned two All-Americans and finished 15th at the NCAA Championships - UNI’s highest finish since 2005.
Dannen was instrumental in moving the UNI wrestling program to the Mid-American Conference for the 2012-13 campaign. Previously, UNI competed in the Western Wrestling Conference.
The UNI men’s basketball, men’s golf, women’s golf, women’s cross country and women’s volleyball teams were recognized by the NCAA for their latest multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores – the most for a single school in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“The NCAA’s recognition of these five teams’ academic success validates that commitment, and earns Panther athletics an admirable place relative to our peers,” Dannen said. “Panther athletics will continue to emphasize academic, athletic and social performance as the foundation for excellence among our 400 student-athletes.”
The Panthers’ academic success was also demonstrated by a 3.09 overall department grade point average in 2011-12. Dannen was responsible for upgrading athletics’ academic advising position by tripling the full-time equivalent positions in the department. Athletics six-year graduation rate is over 70 percent (73 percent) and has exceeded the institutional graduation rate each of the past three years.
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. Football's Kyle Bernard was also named a recipient of the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 2012.
Dannen has also overseen great strides in the marketing of Panther athletics. In the years he has served as Director of Athletics, men’s basketball, volleyball and football have all set venue attendance records. Volleyball ranked No. 6 nationally in attendance in 2012. With the signing of Learfield Sports, UNI’s television presence has doubled the number of locally televised games and expanded the audience beyond cable to over-the-air broadcasts as well. The Learfield annual marketing and media rights agreement doubled the revenue coming into the program just four years ago. Dannen also negotiated and signed a multi-year deal with Nike for apparel and equipment. Dannen also engineered a contract with IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions in 2013 with a partnership to increase attendance and revenues generated from athletic events as well as to enhance customer service and fan interaction.
Athletics generated 51 percent of the department’s $11.6 million budget in 2009-10, which was the first time the department had ever generated more than half of its annual budget. Dannen has reduced the amount of general fund money in the athletics budget by 24 percent since July 1, 2008. UNI has also doubled its football game-day revenue since 2008.
Dannen was instrumental in the completion of Vesting in the Panthers (VIP) fundraising effort, part of the university’s Imagine the Impact campaign. The three components to Vesting in the Panthers (Vision, Infrastructure and Pride) will ensure lasting resources to enhance current programs, facilities and scholarships. UNI’s original goal of $15 million generated more than $27 million in gifts. The Panther Scholarship Club, buoyed by the Rally in the Valley, a fundraising dinner/auction created in 2009, has seen double-digit growth in each of the past three years. Including a 15 percent increase in membership during the 2010-11 year.
There have been significant improvements in UNI’s facilities in recent years as well. During Dannen’s tenure, UNI has completed a new strength and conditioning center, new administrative offices and a new student-athlete academic center in the UNI-Dome. He has also overseen the development of suites in both the UNI-Dome and McLeod Center as well as the installation of new turf in the UNI-Dome. The north UNI-Dome concourse was also successfully completed to enhance the fan experience in the Dome.
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 has been appointed to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee. His four-year term will begin Sept. 1, 2013 and continue through Sept. 1, 2017. 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, 46, received his bachelor’s degree in public relations with a minor in journalism from UNI in 1989.
He is married to his wife, Amy, who works for Boston Scientific Corporation, and has three daughters, Elle, Emily and Holly.