INDIANAPOLIS — Bubba Cunningham, the Director of Athletics at the University of North Carolina, has been named to the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. Cunningham, who has been in Chapel Hill since 2011, will begin a five-year term in September and is the first-ever appointee from UNC.
In addition, University of Toledo athletics director Mike O’Brien, who has served on the committee since September 2018 and was originally given a two-year appointment, will instead serve an additional two years through the 2022 championship.
Cunningham began his professional career at the University of Notre Dame in 1988, soon after earning his master’s degree. A member of the men’s golf team as an undergraduate student, Cunningham would go on to serve as Associate Athletics Director for finance and facilities and Associate Director of Athletics for external affairs during his 14 years at the school.
In 2002, Cunningham moved on to Ball State University, serving as Director of Athletics until 2005, when he took the same position at the University of Tulsa. During his six years in Tulsa, he led the transition to Conference USA and oversaw an athletics department that won 34 conference championships and played in five bowl games. In 2009, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics honored Cunningham with the FBS Central Region Athletics Director of the Year award.
Cunningham started in his current position at UNC in the fall of 2011 and since has seen the Tar Heels win 13 national championships and finish national runners-up another 10 times. This includes the 2017 Division I men’s basketball championship, after appearing in the title game the year prior. The Tar Heels have won at least one game in every tournament played since Cunningham’s arrival and have finished in the top eight of the NACDA Learfield Director’s Cup five times since his arrival.
“Representing the University of North Carolina and the ACC on the NCAA men’s basketball committee is truly an honor and something I look very much forward to when things settle down and we can get back to managing games again,” Cunningham said.
Bubba Cunningham North Carolina Director of Athletics
“The NCAA tournament has proven over and over to be the NCAA’s greatest event and one of the premier sporting events in the world. We all felt badly for the teams who were unable to compete this year, but I also felt for Dan Gavitt and his staff at the NCAA, for whom the championship is a year-long commitment, and (Duke Athletic Director) Kevin White, the current chair, and the members of his committee, who came within days of announcing the field and organizing another great tournament."
“As the AD at North Carolina, I’ve been fortunate to see first-hand the level of dedication and purpose the committee members have each year to make sure the players, coaches, administrators and fans of all 68 teams have the best experience possible. I look forward to serving that mission as well.”
White’s term on the committee will expire Aug. 31. In addition to O’Brien and Cunningham, other committee members include current vice chair and 2020-21 chair Mitch Barnhart, the director of athletics at the University of Kentucky; Tom Burnett, the commissioner of the Southland Conference; Charles McClelland, the commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference; Bernadette McGlade, the commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference; Jim Phillips, the director of athletics at Northwestern University; Jamie Pollard, the director of athletics at Iowa State University; Chris Reynolds, the direct of athletics at Bradley University; and Craig Thompson, the commissioner of the Mountain West Conference.