Dave Blank to conclude service as Elon athletics director

During his 17 years as Phoenix AD, Blank has been dedicated to the success of student-athletes.

Director of Athletics Dave Blank, who has led Elon’s athletics programs for the past 17 years, will step down at the conclusion of this academic year. He will assist with the transition for his successor and continue working on assignments as special assistant to the president.

Dave Blank awarding the game ball after a Phoenix win on September 29, 2018.

“During his nearly 40 years as a coach and administrator, Dave Blank has maintained a primary focus on the success of student-athletes, both in competition and in academics,” said Connie Ledoux Book, Elon president. “During a time of great change in college sports, Dave has been a wise and steady leader who has modeled integrity and been a strong advocate for the traditional mission of intercollegiate athletics. We are grateful for his dedication to the university and the thousands of students who have been involved in Phoenix sports.”

Blank was named Elon’s 20th athletics director in spring 2006 and led the university’s move from the Southern Conference to the Colonial Athletic Association in 2014-15. During his tenure, Phoenix teams and individuals have won a combined 87 conference championships, and teams and individuals have appeared in postseason play on 35 occasions. Elon teams have appeared in national rankings 32 times, and 27 student-athletes have captured conference player of the year honors.

Elon student-athletes have demonstrated excellence in the classroom over the past 17 years, with 716 earning academic all-conference recognition from 2006-07 to 2016-17 and 2,100 earning CAA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll accolades since the start of the 2017-18 academic year. The Phoenix athletics graduation success rate, which stood at 97 percent in 2021-22, has led the CAA for six consecutive years.

“Elon has been such a special place for me and my family and our time here is full of fond memories. While there is much to be proud of, the tremendous accomplishments of our student-athletes supported by our talented coaches and athletics staff over my years is at the top of the list,” Blank said. “Elon is a model of what intercollegiate athletics should be, and I have been honored to work with everyone associated with the Phoenix. In particular, I want to thank President Connie Book and President Emeritus Leo Lambert for their enthusiastic support and encouragement during my time as Elon’s Director of Athletics.”

Dave Blank during a post-game interview in November 2011.

Under Blank’s leadership, Elon expanded resources and support for women’s athletics and introduced women’s lacrosse as its 17th NCAA Division I sport. The Phoenix began competition in 2014 and reached the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid in just its fourth season of play.

In expanding opportunities for fan engagement, Blank restructured the Phoenix Club and increased fundraising efforts focused on scholarships for student-athletes. The Phoenix Club membership has increased by more than 58 percent and the amount of annual gifts has tripled. Blank launched the Night of the Phoenix, an annual fundraising event that completed its 15th year in fall 2022 and now raises more than $425,000 for student-athlete scholarships.

Blank led development of an athletics facilities complex that is the envy of schools across the nation. In leading a milestone project for Elon, he developed plans and managed the opening of Schar Center in 2018, the university’s 5,100-seat convocation center and the home of Elon basketball and volleyball. Other facilities projects completed under Blank’s leadership include the following:

  • Alumni Field House, including Hendrickson Football Center
  • Hunt Softball Park and Phoenix Softball Clubhouse at Truist Field
  • Renovations to Rudd Field, including a new press box and permanent bleachers
  • Latham Park turf, grandstand renovation, Baseball Performance Center and video board
  • Elon Tennis Building, scoreboards and court renovation at Jimmy Powell Tennis Center
  • W. Cecil Worsley III Golf Training Center
  • Expansion and renovation of Koury Field House
  • Enhancements to the Jeanne and Jerry Robertson Track and Field Complex
  • Hunt Practice Field lights and artificial turf

In conjunction with the Office of the Provost, Blank expanded the academic assistance program for athletics. To provide all student-athletes with study abroad opportunities, Blank created a program that combines academic experiences with competition in countries around the world. Each of Elon’s 17 varsity sports programs has a global experience every four years. Since 2011, Phoenix student-athletes have studied abroad in Europe, Asia and Central America.

Beyond Elon, Blank has been a leader in NCAA Division I athletics. He was named one of four recipients of the 2015-16 FCS Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year Award by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). He recently completed a four-year tenure on the prestigious NCAA Division I Baseball Committee, which selects the annual 64-school tournament field. Previously, Blank served on the NCAA Division I Leadership Council and the Championships/Sports Management Cabinet. He has also served as a member of the NCAA I-AA Governance and Football Issues Committee. In 2005, he received the Gen. Robert R. Neyland Outstanding Athletics Director award from the All-American Football Foundation.

Prior to Elon, Blank was Director of Athletics at Drake University and Coastal Carolina University. As a coach, Blank spent eight seasons as head men’s basketball coach at Lock Haven University and was named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1996.

President Book will name a search committee to recruit Elon’s next athletics director, with the goal of completing the search by early summer.