McClelland currently serves as deputy athletic director at Vanderbilt University. Prior to Vanderbilt, McClelland was director of athletics at Louisiana Tech from 2013 to 2020. He will start at Rice Aug 14.
"We're thrilled to be able to attract someone with Tommy's breadth of experience and success," DesRoches said. "He brings the values of academic excellence and deep integrity that define Rice, coupled with a passionate desire to compete successfully at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. These attributes will be critical for Rice's first season in the American Athletic Conference and the years to follow."
"I am incredibly grateful to President DesRoches, the search committee and the Board of Trustees for the opportunity to serve as vice president and director of athletics at Rice University," McClelland said. "My family and I are thrilled to join the Rice family and the Houston community."
McClelland will take over for former athletic director Joe Karlgaard, who left Rice this month for a position in the private sector.
At Vanderbilt, McClelland has provided oversight of the transformational Vandy United campaign. The largest athletics fundraising campaign in school history, Vandy United has raised over $300 million to support the construction of new and renovated athletic facilities at the university. As the deputy athletic director overseeing external affairs and revenue generation, McClelland plays a critical role in fundraising and planning the projects, while also overseeing the football program and directing the Commodores' marketing and promotional efforts, ticket operations and sales, fan engagement and hospitality, broadcasting and Learfield partnership.
McClelland joined Vanderbilt in 2020 after a landmark term as director of athletics at Louisiana Tech, which he led since 2013. Athletics at the Louisiana Tech program thrived under his leadership, underpinned by his philosophy of building champions on the playing fields, in the classrooms and in life. During McClelland's time at Louisiana Tech, the university experienced its most impressive run since the 1970s. The Bulldogs boasted postseason appearances by football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, softball, golf and track and field, including six straight bowl wins. He achieved similar success with men's basketball, winning 20 in seven out of the eight seasons (including a 121-11 record at home) and a pair of regular season conference titles.
While leading Louisiana Tech into its Conference USA era, McClelland impacted the athletics department through fundraising, facility improvements, coaching hires and overall student-athlete development.
Perhaps the most tangible sign of McClelland's impact at Louisiana Tech were the $23 million Davison Athletics Complex and $18 million press box and luxury suites at Joe Aillet Stadium. These two facilities not only changed the landscape of football game days in Ruston, but also produced more than $1.2 million in additional revenue per year for the athletics department.
Off the field, Louisiana Tech student-athletes blossomed in the classroom under McClelland's direction with nearly 1,200 student-athletes recognized on the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll, including a record 212 in 2018-19. Louisiana Tech continued to earn high marks in both the NCAA's Academic Progress Report and Graduation Success Rate with McClelland at the helm.
McClelland previously served as the director of athletics at McNeese State University, where he was the youngest NCAA Division I AD when he was hired at the age of 26. McClelland has more than 14 years of AD experience and also helped develop a few successful athletic directors in Stephen F. Austin's Ryan Ivey and Florida Atlantic's Brian White. Both served on McClelland's senior staff.
"Rice is a world class university with a storied athletics tradition," McClelland said. "The institution's move to the American Athletic Conference signifies its ongoing commitment to elevating the Rice athletics programs and competing at the highest level. I look forward to locking arms with our student-athletes, coaches, staff, campus community and the Greater Houston community as we work together to unlock the full potential of Rice Athletics."
DesRoches chaired the search committee for the new athletics director. The committee conducted a nationwide search with the assistance of the search firm Parker Executive Search.
"We had an extraordinary group of candidates for this position," DesRoches said. "Tommy really stood out among the highly qualified finalists we selected. The committee is confident his proven track record and ability to develop a compelling vision and a strategy to achieve it will be great assets to the Rice athletics program."
Tanner Gardner, senior associate director and chief operating officer of Rice Athletics, will serve as interim director of athletics starting Aug. 1 until McClelland joins Rice.
McClelland earned his bachelor's degree from Northwestern State University in 2004 and completed his master's degree in sports administration in 2005. He walked on to the Demons football team and eventually earned a scholarship. He also competed in the javelin for the Northwestern State track and field team.
McClelland is also a 2012 graduate of the Executive Program of the Sports Management Institute and attended instruction at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School and the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.
Tommy and his wife, Jessica, have two sons, Lawson and Grayson.