Mike Marlow joins NAU as Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics

Mike Marlow and President Cheng

President Rita Cheng selected Mike Marlow to lead Northern Arizona University’s athletics program and introduced him to the Lumberjack family on Wednesday morning.

Marlow is serving as deputy director of athletics for the Washington State University Cougars in Pullman, Washington. For the past seven years, he directed the athletic fund, marketing, ticket operations and communication efforts, as well as serving as the athletic department’s liaison for lucrative sports broadcasting contracts. He also is the administrator for the football, men’s basketball and baseball programs.

Under Marlow’s leadership, the athletic fund at WSU has seen record numbers, doubling totals in both membership and contributions, while home football attendance improved to more than 93 percent.

“Mike rose to the top from a very impressive field of candidates. He is a strategic leader with the experience and background needed to elevate NAU’s athletic program,” Cheng said. “I was most impressed by his commitment to the student-athlete experience and his collaborative approach to working with campus and community groups. Mike is uniquely situated to help move the Northern Arizona University athletic program forward, and I am excited about his proven ability to recruit and manage coaches and staff, as well as his dedication to increasing student body engagement and external support.”

Tremendous interest in this position drove the process. Immediately after the position became open, NAU’s contracted search firm, Parker & Associates, received inquiries from a number of strong candidates. A search committee was formed quickly to review and interview candidates from an extensive field of individuals which ultimately led to the selection of Marlow to lead NAU athletics.

Prior to Washington State, Marlow served for more than 12 years as the senior associate athletic director at the University of Oregon during a time that produced attendance records, tripled annual fundraising numbers, secured major donations necessary for an expanded football stadium, a new basketball arena and a new baseball stadium. Before Oregon, Marlow was the assistant athletic director at the University of Idaho. A 1990 graduate of Washington State, Marlow began his career in intercollegiate athletics as the assistant director of the Grizzly Athletic Association at the University of Montana.

“I’m so happy to be coming to NAU and for my family to be a part of this Lumberjack community,” Marlow said. “In meeting with President Cheng and understanding her commitment to athletics, combined with this wonderful Flagstaff community, it became a very appealing opportunity that we just could not pass up.”

Mike Marlow
Mike Marlow, the new NAU athletics director, visits with people after a press conference announcing his hiring, Dec. 13, 2017.

Pending the approval of Marlow’s appointment and salary by the Arizona Board of Regents, he will begin working at NAU in mid-January.

Those who were unable to watch the announcement and question-and-answer session that followed can watch the event on NAU-TV.

The press conference will be available for download immediately after the event.


Reaction to the hiring of Mike Marlow by Northern Arizona University:

University of Nebraska Director of Athletics Bill Moos

“Northern Arizona University has hired a true gem in Mike Marlow. Highly regarded in the profession, Mike will bring a fantastic vision and work ethic to a fine and respected institution. I wish him all the best and look for great success in his new position.”

Washington State University Head Football Coach Mike Leach

“Mike Marlow will make an outstanding athletics director and is a personal friend who I have tremendous trust in and a great deal of respect for. Any time that I am thinking something through he is great sounding board and provides a lot of wisdom. I think he will make a fantastic athletics director, and he is someone I would very much look forward to working with again. I wish Mike the very best and will continue to call him and get his thoughts on a variety of subjects as I need a sharp mind.”

Washington State University Faculty Athletics Representative Nancy Swanger

“I have been nothing short of impressed with Mike as a family man and administrator. Northern Arizona University is lucky to have him as its next athletics director, and I have no doubt he will be a great collaborator with the campus and greater Flagstaff community. The student-athletes can rest assured that he will always have their best interests at heart.”

Seattle Storm President and General Manager Alisha Valavanis

“Northern Arizona University is fortunate to have Mike Marlow’s strong and determined leadership. He’s a proven leader who is passionate about the student-athlete experience and community engagement. Mike and NAU will be a great combination.”

Head Tennis Coach at the University of Oregon and former NAU student athlete Nils Schyllander

“In Mike Marlow, Northern Arizona University has found a character guy who truly cares for the student-athlete and the community as a whole. I was fortunate to work with Mike for years and got to experience his passion for college athletics firsthand. The future of the Lumberjacks is in great hands.”


NAU Communications