The weekend before speaking with American Builders Quarterly, Timothy Wise was busy putting up drywall for a housing volunteer project with Habitat for Humanity. He was joined by members of his athletics and facilities team at University of Miami, and anyone that couldn’t make it is set to come along next time.
“I try to lead by example to give back,” Wise says. “We’re here to provide for the community and to stay engaged. We want to see neighborhoods that haven’t always had the most opportunities evolve as a result of programs like this.”
This is Wise, pure and simple. The senior associate athletic director for facilities and event operations at Miami has over 20 years of sports experience from Michigan State, Ohio State, University of Wisconsin, and a number of other top-rated sports universities.
Wise builds and maintains far more than arenas and fields. He builds trust in the communities where he lives and the professional associations in which he takes part, to be a supportive voice for the minorities in AD positions and those hoping to achieve their dreams in whatever field they may be pursuing.
But make no mistake, on Wise’s watch, there has been massive building as well.
Each and Every Sport
When asked what the past eight years have looked like for Wise at Miami, he has to take a huge breath. By the time he gets done talking about improvements made to athletics infrastructure, there may not be a single school-sponsored sport he hasn’t mentioned. “There is so much history and tradition here but what people didn’t see for some reason was that the infrastructure in terms of facility foundation wasn’t there when I arrived in 2012,” Wise says. “Through the leadership of the athletic director, we immediately started to improve the infrastructure and the foundation that had been laid.”
In the senior associate director’s first year, an academic center and new football locker rooms were built. Then basketball offices, lounges, and rooms. The arrival of head football coach Mark Richt helped push through the $41 million, 83,000-square-foot Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility which is available to multiple athletics teams at the university to utilize. “That was a game changer for us,” Wise says. “From competition to recruiting, you really saw a shift.”
New football offices were built and the previous were rehabbed and built out for Olympic sports like volleyball, soccer, rowing, and golf to have bases of operation for the first time. “They now have a conference room and theater room where they can watch film,” Wise says of the $41 million project that wrapped up in 2019.
Wise and his team are now shepherding through the building of a new indoor baseball development center that includes a 6,800-square-foot hitting facility with three batting bays for players to work on their swings, with a planned completion for 2020, at time of press. There’s also the opening of a student athlete nutrition center, a half-million-dollar tennis scoreboard, and more on the horizon. “It just never stops,” Wise says, laughing.
The Right Balance
The number of ongoing projects isn’t enough to keep Wise bogged down. He serves on the board of directors for the Minority Opportunity Athletic Association and previously served as president of the Collegiate Event and Facility Management Association. He is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, and is a beneficiary and now a mentor for the NCAA Leadership Institute for Ethnic Minority Males, NACDA Mentoring Institute, among many others.
“When someone asks me to help out on a board or participate in a selection committee, I absolutely do,” Wise states. “I want to be able to help someone else achieve their dreams. That’s really what I’m all about. I want to help people and act as a resource when I can.”
The sheer amount of time Wise’s dedication requires isn’t lost on him. “I have my calendar and I keep things organized to the point of writing down ‘walk the athletics facilities’ to make sure that I’m making myself visible on campus,” Wise says. “Between my faith in God, working out, and paying attention to my calendar, that’s how I get through it all.”
In all that Wise has and continues to accomplish, he wasn’t much of an athlete himself. Wise’s brother was the one with hopes of making it to the NBA. When that didn’t materialize (though his brother had a successful decade of Navy service), Wise figured maybe it was his turn to take a stab at sports—but behind the scenes.
What’s most apparent in the athletic department is his commitment to the students Wise serves. “I do what I do for our student athletes,” he says. “To know that what I do provides them a way to showcase their talents and go onto successful careers of their own, that’s one of my greatest passions and happiness.”