Zack Lassiter, deputy athletics director for external operations at Oregon State University, will be the new vice president for athletics at Abilene Christian University, ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert announced at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
“We had a strong pool of talented candidates from across the nation,” Schubert said. “Zack really stood out because of his track record of innovation and creative problem solving. He sees the importance of culture, values and intentional partnerships. I’m excited for the future of ACU athletics with his vision and leadership.”
At Oregon State, Lassiter oversaw all external athletics units, including marketing, communications, ticket sales and ideation, as well as partnerships with Beaver Sports Properties, Nike and the Pac-12 Network. He also served as the sports supervisor for men’s basketball and golf.
Lassiter improved ties between academic and athletics departments at OSU, and the local business community, and he led the creation of the nation’s first in-house advertising and creative agency in intercollegiate sports. That approach increased awareness of the Beavers’ brand and led to new marketing and ticketing programs resulting in OSU being one of only two Division I programs in 2016-17 to sell out a home game in football, baseball and men’s and women’s basketball.
During Lassiter’s tenure at Oregon State, its athletics teams experienced great success. The men’s basketball program made two NCAA Tournament appearances, including its first Pac-12 Tournament Championship and a run to the Elite Eight in 2021. The women’s basketball team made five NCAA appearances, including a Final Four in 2016 and three additional appearances in the Sweet 16. The baseball team made two trips to the College World Series and won the 2018 national championship. This past season, 11 OSU teams made postseason appearances.
He replaces Allen Ward, who announced his resignation in September. Lassiter begins Dec. 1.
“I am humbled and honored to be selected as the next vice president for athletics at ACU and want to thank president Schubert for this opportunity,” he said. “The more time I spent with the search committee and heard the passion they have for this university and this athletics program, the more I knew this was the place for me. I look forward to serving our student-athletes, coaches, staff and all of Wildcat Nation as we develop leaders and compete for championships.”
Lassiter went to OSU from the University of Central Florida, where he served three years as a member of the athletics executive management team overseeing brand management, ticket sales and operations, marketing, promotions, communications, licensing and merchandising. Under his leadership, ticket sales increased by 25 percent and UCF was recognized as the top athletics department in the nation for customer service.
From 2005 to early 2012, he held several positions at the University of Utah and was part of the team that helped transition the Utes from the Mountain West Conference to the PAC-12 Conference. He started as the director of ticket sales and was associate athletic director for revenue generation when he left for UCF.
Lassiter’s professional career began as an assistant ticket manager at the University of North Carolina from 2001-03. He held a similar role at Louisiana State University for two years.
Along the way, he has been on administrative teams for football programs that have won three BCS bowl games – the 2004 national championship (LSU), the 2009 Sugar Bowl (Utah) and 2014 Fiesta Bowl (UCF).
Lassiter earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and political science from Willamette University (1998), and a master’s degree in sports administration from the University of North Carolina (2002). He and his wife, Rachel, have two sons, Luke and Logan.
“I was immediately drawn to the mission of ACU to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world,” Lassiter said. “This opportunity allows me to align my personal and professional values, and work for one of the best presidents in the nation in Dr. Phil Schubert. My family and I are so excited to join the Wildcat family. ACU Athletics has enjoyed great success since joining Division I, and I know we are just getting started.”
Lassiter takes over an athletics program in its first year in a new conference. Abilene Christian officially joined the Western Athletic Conference in July 2021 and is in its eighth year as a Division I affiliate and its fourth year to be eligible for all NCAA postseason tournaments.
In Spring 2021, the ACU men’s basketball team made its second appearance in March Madness, earning its first win in the NCAA Tournament by defeating The University of Texas at Austin in the East Regional. Both men’s and women’s basketball teams played in the NCAA Tournament in 2019, and the women defeated Oklahoma State University in the first round of the 2017 WNIT. The Wildcats have also competed in NCAA regional or national tournaments in women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, and men’s and women’s track and field.
ACU had 229 student-athletes named to the Southland Conference Honor Roll and combined for a 3.28 cumulative GPA for the 2020-21 academic year. Thirteen programs boasted a team GPA of 3.0 or higher during the year, and 58 student-athletes maintained a 4.0 GPA.
Only four universities, including Stanford, USC and UCLA, have won more national team championships than Abilene Christian. The Wildcats have 64, led by its heritage-rich track and field program, which has generated 39 Olympians, a Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, and was named Texas Sports Dynasty of the Century by Texas Monthly magazine in 1999.
What Others Are Saying About Zack Lassiter:
“Zack is a person of tremendous faith, high character and strong moral fiber. He’ll do the utmost to support his staff and the coaches, and will work tirelessly to continue to improve upon what is already the remarkable brand of Abilene Christian athletics.”
– Wayne Tinkle, men’s head basketball coach, Oregon State University
“Zack Lassiter has been a tremendous leader and true professional while overseeing all of the external operations during his time at Oregon State. He’s been a valuable asset to our football program with his forward thinking, attention to detail and knowledge of media relations.“
– Jonathan Smith, head football coach, Oregon State University
“Zack Lassiter is an exceptional choice to lead the intercollegiate athletics program at Abilene Christian University. Zack is a purpose-driven servant leader focused on the development of young people into everyday champions. He and his wife, Rachel, will be wonderful ambassadors for the university and great additions to the Abilene community.”
– Todd Stansbury, director of athletics, Georgia Institute of Technology
“Abilene Christian found a rising star in higher education and athletics. Zack is a natural leader who cares deeply about people and serving others. He is one of the sharpest minds in college athletics and has been an innovator throughout his impressive career. I can’t think of a better fit for ACU as Zack and his family live their faith visibly in their good works.”
– Doug Knuth, director of athletics, University of Nevada
— Wendy Kilmer
Nov. 9, 2021