MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU president E. Gordon Gee has tasked Wren Baker with navigating the “ever-changing landscape” of college sports as the school’s 13th director of athletics. But what makes him equipped to do just that?
Tom McMillen, a former congressman, NBA big man and NCAA All-American at Maryland, joins The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast, presented by Pritt & Spano, to answer that question.
As the CEO of Lead1 Association, which represents 131 athletic directors at FBS schools, McMillen developed a relationship with Baker during his six-year stint as director of athletics at North Texas. He called Baker a “star” among athletic directors at the Group of 5 level.
“He gets it,” McMillen said on The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast. “His teams won…He was always considered an up-and-comer in our association.”
During Baker’s tenure at North Texas, Mean Green teams won 17 conference or division championships in seven sports.
At his introductory press conference, Baker, an Oklahoma native, explained why he thinks his rural upbringing will help him and his family connect with Mountaineer fans.
“[We’ve] been taking country roads all our lives,” Baker said. “Who knew some 40 years later that those country roads would take us to West Virginia, but we’re so glad they did. They brought us home.”
During Baker’s stint at North Texas, McMillen observed how that mentality helped him succeed.
“Wren always kind of struck me as a very, very smart, strategic person, but yet he had this kind of rural, less-urban affectation, which I love about him,” McMillen said. “He’s just very grounded, and I think that went very well in Texas.”
Gold and Blue Nation is the local leader for Mountaineer sports news, producing comprehensive coverage on TV and online. Download the free Gold and Blue Nation app via your preferred app store so you’re never more than a touch away from our award-winning WVU sports reporting, highlights and archived shows.