The summer of 2023 will be a transitory time for the Rice Owls, in a multitude of ways.
Not only do the Owls transition from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference on July 1, but one month later, another major change will transpire within the athletic department.
Athletic director Joe Karlgaard announced he will step down Aug. 1, effectively ending his 10-year tenure at Rice to become the CEO of GSV Summit LLC. According to the GSV Summit LLC website, “GSV is a global community and investment platform singularly focused on elevating the scope and scale of innovation in the $2 trillion education and workforce sector.”
Karlgaard was named the athletic director at Rice University on Sept. 9, 2013, replacing Rick Greenspan who resigned to pursue a career in the consulting business after a 3-year tenure. Prior to accepting the position at Rice, Karlgaard served as the athletic director at Oberlin College from 2005-11 and as the senior associate athletic director at Stanford from 2011-13. During his first season on campus at Rice, the Owls finished with a 10-4 record and won the CUSA title. The Owls collected a Hawaii Bowl victory over Fresno State the following year to cap off an 8-5 season — Rice’s most recent postseason win to date.
Karlgaard oversaw the Owls’ most recent coaching change in December 2017, hiring Stanford assistant Mike Bloomgren as head coach to replace David Bailiff.
One of his most significant endeavors at the University involved transitioning Rice’s athletic programs from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference. The Owls are one of six CUSA institutions — along with Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, UAB, and UTSA — making the move on July 1 in an ever-changing college football landscape.
Karlgaard released a statement Tuesday regarding his career decision:
“I’m very fortunate to have worked with so many wonderful student-athletes, coaches, staff, faculty, and supporters over these past ten years. Rice is a special place, and I’m grateful for all those who pour their hearts and souls into making this university great. Together we’ve accomplished so much. Rice Athletics is well positioned for the future of college athletics, and I am excited to see what’s next for our programs and student-athletes. Thank you to President David Leebron, who hired me in 2013, and to President Reggie DesRoches, with whom I’ve worked over this past year, for your terrific leadership and support of Rice Athletics. This is an amazing opportunity for me to work in a space that taps into a number of my passions. First and foremost, I believe in the power of education. I studied higher education in graduate school, served on the board of my sons’ K-8 school, and have continued my own learning through certificate programs at Rice and elsewhere. I also am excited to work on the cutting edge of innovation in education with some amazing startups, investors, and thought leaders. Finally, I am eager to help grow the GSV mission and brand around the world, affording everyone an equal opportunity to participate in the future, the foundation of which is access to quality education and knowledge.”
Rice has yet to name a new athletic director to succeed Karlgaard’s decade-long tenure. Per President Reggie DesRoches in a public letter issued Tuesday, Rice “will soon be launching a national search” for a new athletics director and “will provide an update on that and the interim leadership of the department in the next month.”