Virginia Tech, Whit Babcock agree in principle to contract extension
Virginia Tech and Director of Athletics Whit Babcock have agreed in principle to a contract extension for Babcock to serve as athletic director through June 30, 2024.
Babcock began his tenure at Virginia Tech in January of 2014 and has made a significant impact on Virginia Tech athletics in his nearly three years on the job.
“Whit has done an outstanding job during his short tenure here, leading our athletics program with integrity, professionalism, and unrelenting commitment to excellence,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “More than that, he has embraced the spirit of Virginia Tech, which has been reflected in the quality and character of his coaches and staff, and the accomplishments of our student athletes both on and off the field. We hope to keep Whit and his family in Blacksburg for many years to come.”
“I am very thankful to Dr. Sands and the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors for this contract extension,” said Babcock. “My family and I love it in Blacksburg, this is home, and it is a blessing and honor to be here during such a dynamic time at Virginia Tech, both academically and athletically. I am also grateful to our staff and coaches in the athletic department who are doing an amazing job and creating such a special culture here. Athletic directors often get too much credit and this is certainly one of those instances.
“I am honored and humbled by the extension and the faith placed in us to keep the positive momentum going and we will do that,” added Babcock. “We will continue to work hard to create a first-class ‘student-athlete experience’ and strive to make the entire Hokie Nation proud of our competitive success, now and for years to come.”
In his first three years at Virginia Tech, Babcock has made four key coaching hires and oversaw the restructuring of the Hokie Club, the athletics department’s fundraising arm.
Additionally, he promoted Desiree Reed-Francois to Deputy Athletics Director in June of this year. In this role Reed-Francois is recognized as one of the top athletic administrators in the nation and has been instrumental in elevating the department’s overall external operations, fan engagement initiatives, marketing efforts and in crafting the Pylons of Promise, Virginia Tech’s commitment to the student-athletes it serves. She originally joined Virginia Tech in May 2014 and served as Executive Associate Athletics Director & Senior Woman Administrator for two years.
Babcock’s ability to attract top coaching talent to Virginia Tech began with the hiring of Buzz Williams just two-months into his tenure. Williams joined the Hokies in March 2014 after six years at Marquette, where he posted 139 victories and five NCAA berths.
His hiring paid dividends for the Hokies in 2015-16 as men’s basketball coach Williams led the Hokies to a 20-win season and an NIT berth in just his second season. “I will always be indebted to Buzz and his family for taking a leap of faith with us early on; his coming to Blacksburg really got us jump started,” Babcock said.
Babcock’s biggest hire came when Justin Fuente was named the new football coach succeeding the legendary Frank Beamer, who retired after the 2015 season after 29 years as head coach.
Fuente came to Virginia Tech after four seasons at the University of Memphis, where he turned around a struggling program and guided the school to 19 wins in his final two seasons there. Fuente’s program is currently ranked 21st nationally and leads the ACC Coastal division.
Babcock named Waynesboro, Virginia native, Kenny Brooks as head coach for Virginia Tech women’s basketball in March. Brooks joined the Hokies after registering 337 wins at James Madison University where he led the Dukes to 11 consecutive postseason appearances, including six NCAA tournament berths.
Babcock also tabbed John Sung to lead the women’s lacrosse program earlier this year after Sung started a program from scratch at Winthrop and proceeded to guide the Eagles to back-to-back NCAA appearances before coming to Blacksburg.
On the fundraising front, Babcock and his staff teamed with the Hokie Club and recently launched the "Hokie Scholarship Fund." The program is designed to increase awareness and private funding for student-athlete scholarships, while also promoting more donor participation from alumni and friends of Virginia Tech.
These gifts will provide much needed revenue to meet the rising costs of scholarships for the school’s more than 550 student-athletes, which reached $14.5 million in 2016-17.
In the past year, Virginia Tech secured corporate donations to support forthcoming facility enhancement projects. Carilion Clinic committed $5 million to be used for student-athlete scholarships and improvements to Cassell Coliseum. Union Bank and Trust committed $3.5 million toward improvements to English Field, the Hokies’ baseball home.
In addition, Babcock has unveiled future projects that include improvements to the department’s academic center and student-athlete development areas, Merryman Center, Jamerson Center, Rector Field House, Tech Softball Park, and Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center. These plans follow the 2015 completion of the new, nationally recognized $21.3 million Indoor Practice Facility which is utilized by all 22 sports programs.
The Hokies have continued their success on the field and in the classroom during Babcock’s tenure.
Last year, Virginia Tech won ACC championships in men’s outdoor track and field and wrestling — the school’s 21st and 22nd ACC team titles since joining the league. Eight teams qualified for NCAA postseason competition, with the track and field and swimming and diving programs also sending several individuals to the NCAA Championships.
During the 2014-15 academic year, the Hokies also won two ACC titles and seven teams qualified for NCAA competition.
Academically, 53 percent of Virginia Tech’s student-athletes maintained a cumulative grade-point average 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale at the conclusion of the 2016 spring semester. The average team cumulative grade point average was 3.09, and 15 teams maintained a 3.0 cumulative grade point average or better, the most teams in Tech history.
Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, and raised in Harrisonburg, Babcock lettered four years in baseball at James Madison University, graduating in 1992. Babcock is married to the former Kelly Watts of Enterprise, Alabama. They have three children: Andrew, age 16; Brett, age 13; and Eli, age 12.