MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University confirmed Wednesday that it had hired Wren Baker as its new director of athletics.
Baker heads to Morgantown after a historic six-year stint at the University of North Texas. His hire concludes a 16-day search for a new athletic director at WVU, which began after the departure of Shane Lyons.
“When we began this search, we were determined to find someone who could lead in the modern realities of intercollegiate athletics and build on the legacy of his predecessors,” said WVU president E. Gordon Gee. “We wanted someone who clearly understood the dynamics of a fast-changing athletics environment and had found success being at the forefront of this new world that includes managing NIL and the portal. We looked at a number of well-qualified candidates and, at the end of the day, Wren met every one of our needs.”
This announcement is ahead of the projected timetable of three-to-four weeks laid out by the university earlier this month. In the meantime, Rob Alsop, WVU’s vice president for strategic initiatives, acted as WVU’s director of athletics.
“I am incredibly grateful to President Gee, Rob Alsop, the search committee and Board of Governors for the opportunity to serve as vice president and director of athletics at West Virginia University,” Baker said. “WVU boasts a powerful brand reputation and a storied academic and athletic history. My family and I can’t wait to get to Morgantown to build relationships and help take Mountaineer Athletics to even greater heights.”
Baker will oversee 18 varsity sports at WVU, a department budget of over $90 million, approximately 250 employees and nearly 500 student-athletes. He begins at WVU on Dec. 19 and will work a six-year contract worth $1.1 million per year plus incentives.
A native of Valliant, Oklahoma, Baker enjoyed plenty of success at North Texas following his hire in July 2016. The early years of his tenure saw massive bumps in ticket revenues and game attendance, including the three largest crowds in North Texas football history.
The Mean Green was successful on the athletic fields under Baker. In just six years, seven programs combined to win 17 conference or division championships. This includes five bowl berths for the football team and three Conference USA titles in men’s basketball.
Baker’s crowning achievement came in October 2021, when the university was invited to join the American Athletic Conference.
Baker has garnered a reputation as a relentless fundraiser. At each of his career stops, he has secured massive gifts, some of which broke records at their respective institutions. He has also overseen several massive projects for facility upgrades, including a master plan at UNT dubbed “Light the Tower.”
At UNT, Baker led the four best fundraising years in the school’s history. UNT also set a school record for fundraising in a single year, raising nearly twice as much as the previous record.
Baker had plenty of experience in intercollegiate athletics prior to taking over at UNT. His first AD job came in 2006 at Rogers State in Claremore, Oklahoma, where he worked double-time as the school’s men’s basketball coach. He won 20 games in his sole season as coach.
He then moved on to Northwest Missouri State in 2011. Baker helped the university achieve a 60 percent revenue bump and hired head football coach Adam Dorrel, who won three consecutive national titles with the Bearcats.
Baker’s first Division I experience came at Memphis as a deputy AD in 2013, where he again oversaw record-breaking fundraising efforts. He worked closely with the men’s basketball and football teams, the latter of which won its first conference title in over 40 years.
Baker took a similar position at Missouri in 2015, where he assisted the athletic director in two head coaching searches while leading the external relations team. He led the implementation of a new fund model that later gave way to a record fundraising year.