In July of 2016, now 51-year-old Mack Rhoades left the Missouri Tigers to take the vacant athletic director job at Baylor University. This came just over a year after he had left his job as Houston’s athletic director to go to Mizzou.
So now that Rhoades’ alma mater has a vacancy for that position, could he be on the move once again?
A Tucson native, Rhoades graduated from The University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences. However, he started his college career as a pre-med student, dropped out to join his friend’s business opportunity, then returned to school after selling that business for nine times the amount they had invested in it.
Rhoades graduated from U of A at age 24. In his final year, a conversation with then-Arizona A.D. Cedric Dempsey convinced Rhoades that he wanted to be an athletic director.
After graduation from Arizona, Rhoades earned his master’s degree in sports administration and marketing from Indiana, and began an internship at Yale.
He was offered a job at Yale when the internship ended, but came back to Tucson and delivered pizza before getting offered a job by Marquette as the athletics advancement officer. He spent a year there before moving on to UTEP, where he served as the senior associate and assistant athletic director for seven years.
In 2005, Rhoades became what he wanted to be after talking to Dempsey...an athletic director. He got that opportunity at Akron, and the success he had leading the Zips’ athletic department got him recognized nationally, and eventually led to him getting the Houston A.D. job in 2009.
Under Rhoades’ watch, Houston became a national name in football, recording a 13-win season in 2011, a year in which they were ranked 6th nationally. The Cougars also opened a new football stadium during Rhoades’ tenure, which put them in a place as a leading contender to join the Big 12, though the conference decided against expansion last year. His replacement at Houston, Hunter Yurachek, has also come up as a potential candidate at Arizona.
Rhoades left Houston in March 2015 for Missouri, and only spent 15 months there before the Baylor job opened when Ian McCaw resigned. It was an era at Mizzou that was filled with a lot of issues and poorly-handled situations that came up.
Now Rhoades has only been at Baylor for seven months. But the Arizona job is open — the place that convinced him he wanted to be an athletic director in the first place.
"The past year has taught me a great deal about who I am as a person and as a leader,” Rhoades said when he took the Baylor job. “I am very grateful to the people I've worked with and come to know throughout the state of Missouri. The experience has helped galvanize a commitment to my core values and to the values I want to infuse into an athletics program. I look forward to the opportunity to join Baylor University at this important time in its history. I am excited to support and develop programs of the highest caliber, in facilities that are second to none, alongside coaches who are among the best in the industry, all grounded in a Christian tradition and committed to academic excellence."
His recent history suggests that Rhoades wouldn’t be afraid to leave a place quickly. In fact, leaving Mizzou so quickly resulted in him owing the school more money than they paid him during his tenure. He made $600,000 a year at Missouri, which is on par with what Greg Byrne made at Arizona.
This is an interesting situation. You have someone who has certainly seen success as an athletic director at Akron and Houston, but had major issues in Missouri, and his time at Baylor hasn’t been long enough to make any judgments on, especially when he’s there to move the school past major scandals in the athletic department.
Obviously Rhoades has lifelong ties to Tucson, and even moved back to the city over taking a job at Yale. If Arizona were to give him a call, you can bet that he would at least give them a long listen.