January 7, 2011
DALLAS (SMU) - SMU President Gerald Turner has announced the University and Director of Athletics Steve Orsini have agreed to a contract extension that runs through May 31, 2015. Orsini began his tenure as the Director of Athletics at SMU on June 1, 2006, and has already left an indelible mark on Mustang Athletics.
"SMU Athletics has changed significantly for the better under Steve Orsini's leadership," said Turner. "He continues to lead numerous positive and transformational efforts for our athletic department and our university. We are thrilled that he will be with us for many years to come, and the university is fortunate to have his continued commitment."
"I want to thank Dr. Turner and the Board of Trustees. I'm honored and humbled by their confidence in me and extremely excited about the future of Mustang Athletics," said Orsini. "I am fortunate to represent this vibrant university and to work with such an outstanding and professional group of coaches and staff. I'm proud of the work we've done so far, but also know we have only begun to scratch the surface of the potential of this great institution. As I have said since I arrived at SMU five years ago, we will win at SMU and achieve our goal of being top 25 in everything we do."
When he was hired, Orsini inherited an SMU football program that had not been to a bowl game in nearly a quarter century. Despite its rich tradition, SMU had struggled since the early 1980s and the days of the "Pony Express." In January 2008, though, Orsini brought a new spark to the SMU football program, hiring former National Coach of the Year June Jones. To provide the necessary resources for Jones and the football program to succeed, SMU created "The Circle of Champions," attracting more than 20 donors who have committed $100,000 a year for five years, giving SMU the ability to compete financially with top-25 institutions. That spark turned into a fire in 2009, as the Mustangs snapped a 25-year bowl drought and claimed a Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Championship and a share of the Conference USA Western Division Championship. Football success continued in 2010, as SMU again won the Conference USA Western Division Championship, advancing to its first Conference Championship game and playing in its second straight bowl game.
Off the gridiron, Mustang teams have won nine conference championships in the past two-plus seasons, and SMU has been ranked as the top school in its conference for 11 of the last 13 years in the Director's Cup overall athletic rankings.
In addition to their successes on the field, SMU student-athletes have also succeeded in the classroom; 183 student-athletes were named to the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll in 2010.
In athletics fundraising, SMU has set records for the two straight years. For fiscal year 2010, SMU Athletics added $5.3 million in annual gifts, breaking the $5 million mark for the first time. Over the past two fiscal years, SMU Athletics has seen a 59% spike in annual giving. Including capital and other gifts, over $9 million was given to SMU Athletics in 2010, with Mustang Club donations up 33%. This success in annual operating support exceeded the previous record year, 2009, when the Mustangs added over $4.5 million to the coffers in annual support. Ticket sales have increased, jumping 80% ($1.4M in FYE07 to $2.5M in FYE10) in three years, and marketing campaigns overseen by Orsini have seen SMU set single-game stadium attendance records in back-to-back years.
Efficiencies have increased as well, and SMU finished 10th nationally in the Excellence in Management Cup, presented by Texas A&M's Laboratory for the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics. SMU was the top-ranked school in Texas in the rankings, which determines which athletic departments win the most championships while having the lowest expenses. To that end, University support of operations has been reduced significantly over the last three years.
A native of Hummelstown, Pa., Orsini graduated from Notre Dame in 1978 with a degree in Business Administration, majoring in accounting. He was a three-time letter winner at fullback on the Fighting Irish football team and was one of four team captains on the 1977 national championship squad. After graduation, he spent three years as Senior Assistant Accountant and became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the New York office of the national accounting firm Deloitte, Haskins and Sells.
Born April 16, 1956, Orsini is married to the former Amy Kertesz of South Bend, Ind., and the couple has a daughter, Angela.
SMU, the only Division I athletic program in Dallas, Texas, sponsors 17 sports and has been ranked as the top school in its conference for 11 of the last 13 years in the Director's Cup overall athletic rankings. More information about SMU and its coaches, student-athletes and teams is available at
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