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Impactful Strategic Thinking With The NCAA’s Mario Morris

Guest Mario Morris, NCAA
24:20 min watch


NCAA Senior Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer Mario Morris joins ADU’s Tai M. Brown at the 2024 PACnet Conference to discuss impactful strategic thinking, how to align resources with strategic priorities and the metrics associated with measuring progress. Morris dives into key learnings he’s gleaned from leaders such as former Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez (hiring and how to build a team); former Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick (strategic thinking and communication); and NCAA President Charlie Baker (consensus building). Morris and Brown also reflect on their time as student-athletes, including Morris’ relationship with Northern Illinois AD Sean Frazier during their time as Alabama Football student-athletes, and the importance of building a non-athletic identity.

The conversation is indexed below for efficient viewing (click the time stamp to jump to a specific question/topic).

  • - How was being on the same football team as Sean Frazier back at Alabama?
  • - You and Sean crossed paths again while you were working in Wisconsin - what were you doing at the time?
  • - It's interesting the perspective we have at different stages of our lives... people are die-hard fans of their athletic department but aren't fans of the NCAA when in reality, their AD is probably the one actually making the decisions that they're bashing.
  • - If you look at your background and bio, you see a lot of finance, budgeting and revenue generation... but your role now is more strategic thinking and how you can make things best for student-athletes. How did your earlier career experience lead to the strategic thinking you're doing now?
  • - How much of the strategic thinking takes up your role today?
  • - Is there someone in the organization who is the "keeper of the records" - who keeps track of the status of all projects, proposals and initiatives?
  • - What are the things that are important to you? How have you evolved in terms of leadership and strategy? Where do you see yourself going?
  • - Tell me more about consensus building.
  • - You mentioned helping student-athletes understand who they are versus what they do; what was that like for you when you were playing at Alabama and why that became important to you.
  • - You were hired by the former leader of the NCAA. Did the role get redefined for you under the new president?
  • - Tell me about how the possibility of making an impact was a deciding factor in taking this role.
  • - How did you specifically bring impact to these projects you're referencing?
  • - Tell me about evaluating an opportunity in terms of the desire to be "treated well" because you can't measure that until you're fully in the situation.
  • - Growth, impact and being treated well - is that the lens you use when you hire people? Do you try to ensure that you're providing those things to your team?