Two years ago, Josh Brooks was the assistant athletics director for internal operations at the University of Georgia, coordinating travel for the Bulldogs football team. Champion magazine trailed him as he planned and executed a team road trip to Missouri, the kind of Herculean logistics athletics administrators carry out as a regular part of their jobs. The travel-party size for the coaches, players, coaches’ wives, administrators and Uga IX, the team’s mascot: 140.
The then-32-year-old Brooks was responsible for coordinating the schedule that included plane and bus transportation, police escorts, assigned hotel rooms, meeting rooms (including the temperature being set precisely at 68 degrees) and meals for all involved. And while Brooks was doing his job, he also had the goal of someday becoming a director of athletics at an NCAA school.
That day arrived this summer when he was named to lead athletics programs at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. He started his new position in July. Brooks was happy with his role at Georgia and wanted to make sure that if he moved into an athletics director’s job, it was at the right school.
“I felt like Millsaps was a place I had a working knowledge of what it was all about,” said Brooks, who grew up in Louisiana. “The biggest thing was to make sure it was a fit for me and the college. I came here, and it fit like a glove.”
During the interview, Brooks was also impressed by the administration’s forward-thinking approach.
“There is a very professional attitude in the vision of where they want to take this school five years from now and 50 years from now,” Brooks said. “I just felt at home immediately.”
Brooks had two early goals when he arrived at Millsaps. One was to increase involvement from sponsors and raise money for the “M” Club, the school’s athletic foundation.
He also wanted to enhance the fan experience at Millsaps games. Brooks accomplished this by upgrading concessions items, placing inflatables around the athletics facilities to create a kids’ zone and inviting local high school bands to perform at games.
“This is a gem of the South with its own unique cutout,” said Brooks, who oversees 18 sports at Millsaps. “It is a great liberal arts school with great students, great coaches and great people. The student-athletes go to each other’s games and root each other on. That has been phenomenal to watch.”
Even the adjustment to the budget available at Division III Millsaps compared with Georgia, where Brooks worked with a travel budget of about $900,000, hasn’t been as tough as he had expected.
“No matter where you are, you have to manage a budget,” Brooks said. “There was just an extra comma in there at Georgia. You still have to make tough decisions about what you can and can’t do. At the end of the day, you make decisions on things that have the most positive impact in the lives of student-athletes.”