Courtesy The University of Tulsa
Rick Dickson is staying busy after his recent agreement to a three-year contract to serve as The University of Tulsa’s Vice President and Director of Athletics.
Dickson, a native Tulsan and TU graduate, returned to his alma mater last September to lead the athletics department, serving as interim director. In February, the interim tag was removed from Dickson’s title. He previously served as the school’s Athletic Director from 1990 to 1994.
“Everyone knew Rick would be an outstanding athletic director when we welcomed him back to Tulsa in 2020,” said TU President Brad Carson. “He has exceeded our expectations on every level and is an important part of the leadership team that is creating a renewed culture of excellence across campus. I appreciate all of Rick’s hard work and am pleased he has agreed to stay on and lift our sports programs to even greater heights in the coming years.”
Dickson’s prolific career has also included leading athletic programs at Washington State University (1994-2000) and Tulane University (2000-2015). Programs under Dickson’s guidance has seen dozens of conference championships and scores well above the national average in the NCAA’s Academic Performance Rates.
Dickson’s leadership, business acumen, energy and fundraising ability has resulted in a career that has covered 28 years as a collegiate athletic director. His drive to provide student-athletes the tools and support they need to grow academically, athletically and socially is at the forefront of his commitment as an administrator.
Upon his TU return, Dickson was immediately dealt with handling the COVID-19 crisis and positioning the athletic department for success on the field, the classroom and in the community. He has made positive strides in re-energizing alumni and the community in his first 11 months. Tulsa’s fundraising total increased by 24-percent from a year earlier and 31-percent above the stated goal. He oversaw the complete renovation of the strength & conditioning facility, now the F.A. Dry Sports Performance Center, and has instituted the Hurricane Academy for Sport. On the field, Tulsa teams won three conference championships and played for three more league titles last season.
Dickson has become entrenched in the community. He currently serves on the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce Advisory Board and Tulsa Regional Tourism Board of Directors. Dickson has continued his membership on the USTA Collegiate Tennis Committee and Team Gleason Board of Directors, an organization to improve life for people living with ALS.
Dickson, who attended Tulsa’s Bishop Kelley High School, played football for the Golden Hurricane before graduating from TU in 1977. His wife, Brenda, graduated from TU in 1979.
“Brenda and I are humbled and pleased to have returned to Tulsa working at our alma mater. Always proud to call Tulsa home, we have never been prouder than this past year when the Tulsa community joined us in supporting and sustaining the university and the athletic department through a remarkable year for TU Athletics. Contributing to campus and community life are core values we all share’” said Dickson. “We look forward to this continued engagement with TU student-athletes and staff, the student body, alumni, fans and the City of Tulsa.”
During his first tour of duty at TU, Dickson galvanized the city of Tulsa in support of Golden Hurricane athletics. Season attendance spiked for football and surpassed an all-time high attendance average of 31,000 fans for seven home games in 1991, while fans returned to the Tulsa Convention Center Arena after Dickson’s hiring of basketball coach Tubby Smith. Basketball attendance grew more than 2,000 fans and reached a season average high of 7,300 in his final year at Tulsa.
Dickson lobbied bowl committees in 1991 for Tulsa’s opportunity to participate in a post-season game, landing the Hurricane an appearance in the Freedom Bowl. He also was successful in getting Tulsa voted onto the College Football Association’s Active Member list in 1991 as a major college independent. Dickson established the school’s first statewide radio network, also in 1991, with the debut of the Golden Hurricane Radio Network.
He instituted several new fund-raising initiatives as well programs to improve the academic performance of student-athletes. Dickson coordinated the development of an academic advisor program for athletics while establishing “Operation Golden Hurricane,” a community outreach program for TU student-athletes.
Before leaving Tulsa for Washington State in 1994, Dickson was instrumental in the university securing membership in the Western Athletic Conference, thus giving the football program conference stability.
At Washington State, Dickson oversaw an athletics program that was recognized nationally for its success in dealing with gender equity issues. He raised funds for a capital campaign that funded scholarships and endowments, an indoor practice facility, and the renovation of Bohler Gymnasium. Washington State enjoyed its highest ever Sears Cup Ranking during his tenure, highlighted in 1998 by the football team’s first Rose Bowl appearance in 67 years.
While at Tulane, Dickson is credited with helping the athletic program and community rebound after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Teams under his tenure won 41 conference titles and advanced to NCAA postseason play 36 times.
Following a 2003 Board Review that resulted in a unanimous resolution reaffirming the institution’s Div-1A status, Dickson assumed the task of building a permanent foundation of support for Tulane Athletics through the Perpetual Wave Campaign. During the review, Dickson guided the department through an intense campaign that saw football season ticket sales more than triple, as well as secure funding for the new Greer Baseball Field, Yulman Football Stadium, Devlin Fieldhouse, The Hertz Center and numerous other facilities and program updates.
Following his retirement from Tulane in 2016, Dickson formed R.P. Dickson Consulting LLC, which has assisted many universities with multiple projects including Title IX reviews, departmental organization, fundraising and marketing campaigns, and facility development.
In 2019, Dickson accepted a year-long role as the CFP New Orleans ambassador, serving the Extra Yards for Teachers Campaign that supports public school teachers of New Orleans.
The Dickson’s have four grown children and six grandchildren.
The University of Tulsa sponsors 17 sports, including 10 women’s (basketball, cross country, golf, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, rowing, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball) and seven men’s (basketball, cross country, football, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, soccer and tennis). The university has been a member of the American Athletic Conference since July 2014 and has won 22 AAC championships for the league’s second-most titles during that time span.