Athletics’ Rick Mello honored by trustees

The Rice Board of Trustees honored Deputy Athletics Director Rick Mello at the Sept. 10 meeting for his balance of wisdom, experience, open-mindedness and selfless contributions to improve the department.

Rick Mello


Mello came to Rice in 2010 as the associate director of external relations after a four-year stint in administration with the Sun Belt Conference. Within a month of coming to Rice, Mello was promoted to senior associate athletics director and in February 2015 assumed his new role as deputy director.

Athletics Director Joe Karlgaard extolled Mello’s commitment to the university and the athletics program.

“Rick Mello is the best of both worlds,” Karlgaard said. “He’s experienced, yet he’s open-minded. He’s loyal, yet he demands accountability. He’s a hard-worker, yet he likes to have fun.”

Mello is the kind of co-worker that inspires others in their department to do their best and creates an atmosphere of camaraderie and professionalism that makes staff “excited to come to work every day,” Karlgaard said.

Mello is the first person Karlgaard consults when the department is faced with challenges. “If I have a new idea for the department, I can’t wait to run it past Rick for his input,” Karlgaard said. “If we have a difficult problem to solve, Rick is the first person I’m going to ask for advice.”

Mello graduated cum laude in journalism in 1980 from Utah State University, where he served as assistant sports information director for two years. A California native, Mello has more than 35 years experience as a Division I athletics director and conference administrator, including turns as director of athletics at Florida International University and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. His longevity and experience are evident.

“He’s a selfless contributor to our improvement,” Karlgaard said. “It’s never about him; it’s always about our coaches, our students and our support staff. He’s incredibly valuable to this university, and I’m so pleased that Rice has chosen to honor his service this way.”

About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is editor of Rice New.