After a comprehensive nationwide search, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has appointed Phil Hess as its new athletics director at the Prescott Campus. Hess, who had been serving as the interim athletics director since August of 2021, will start in the permanent position on July 1, 2022.
Hess has been at Embry-Riddle since 2017, when he was named the assistant athletics director. Prior to coming to Prescott, Hess worked for over 25 years at a variety of levels in college athletics, including schools at the NCAA Division I and Division III levels, such as MIT, Stony Brook, Oakland University and Utah State.
“It is an incredible honor to be chosen,” Hess said. “We have amazing student-athletes and a fantastic staff here at Embry-Riddle. I am very proud of what they have achieved, and I am looking forward to continuing that record of success, both in athletics and academics, as we advance the program into the future.”
During the semester-long process, the search committee, which consisted of students and staff from across campus, identified multiple strong candidates from across the country to bring to campus for interviews. These candidates spanned a variety of backgrounds, bringing their own unique experiences.
“We had several very strong candidates as part of the pool,” said Prescott Campus Chancellor Dr. Anette Karlsson. “However, in the end, it was clear that Phil Hess was the best candidate with his diverse background and commitment to student success. He will be a great leader for the Prescott Eagles.”
Hess will be tasked with leading the athletics department for years to come, looking to provide the best opportunities both on and off the field for the athletes, coaches and staff. He will also be in charge of strategic planning and policy development for the department, leading the development of athletics fundraising and marketing activities, and represent the department in NAIA and conference meetings while assuring the following of NAIA and Cal Pac regulations.
Hess spent most of his 25-plus years in athletics in sports information and athletics communications roles. During his time at MIT, he developed video streaming partnerships and oversaw the redesign of multiple websites and webpages under the Engineer Athletics umbrella.
While at Stony Brook, Hess was the media contact for four different sports and helped push the Seawolf athletics onto a variety of media platforms, including developing the “Seawolf Radio Network.”
Hess played big media relations roles in some of the United States’ biggest athletics events. He was the media coordinator during the first round of the 2007 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament and was a media liaison at the 2004 Ryder Cup. Hess also worked the 2000 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Final Four, the 2001 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball East Regional and the 2001 PGA Michelob Open.
Before getting into athletics, Hess worked at NASA as an aerospace engineer for nine years. He was a part of the team that returned the shuttle fleet to flight status after the 1986 Challenger disaster.
Hess earned his undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering in 1982 from the University of Michigan. In 1993, he earned his master’s degree in sports management from the University of Richmond.