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Biography: Pat Richter


Director of Athletics, University of Wisconsin

Pat Richter, the dean of Big Ten Directors of Athletics, is completing his 15th and final year heading the athletic department at his alma mater. Richter announced last Valentine's Day that he will retire from his position on April 1.

The former all-star student-athlete at Wisconsin not only rescued the Badger athletic department in the early 1990s, but has also charted a plan for a prosperous future in the new millennium.

When Richter accepted then-Chancellor Donna Shalala's offer to run the division in 1989, he inherited a $2.1 million debt, a downtrodden program on the field, eroding facilities and deteriorating fan support.

During his administration, the Badgers have eliminated the red ink on the financial ledgers and built a $6 million surplus, won on the playing field at levels never experienced previously, built new facilities and renovated crumbling ones, added three new women's sports to become compliant with Title IX legislation and made it fashionable to "be a Badger."

The cumulative affect of Richter's efforts were appreciated in a recent survey conducted by The Sporting News which ranked the Badgers as the 10th-best program in the nation.

Every program has flourished during his administration. Some of the competitive highlights are listed below.

  • Football: won three Big Ten championships and three Rose Bowls; appeared in nine bowl games and won seven; produced a winner of the Heisman Trophy (Ron Dayne); and attracted capacity crowds to Camp Randall Stadium routinely in the last decade.
  • Men's basketball: won back-to-back Big Ten championships in 2002 and 2003 for the first time in 80 years; played in seven NCAA Tournaments and earned a trip to the 2000 Final Four; produced the three winningest teams in UW history; and sold out the Kohl Center on a season basis (in 2004) for the first time in history.
  • Women's basketball: played in five NCAA Tournaments and three NITs; registered a school-record 21 wins three different years; and attracted a Big Ten-record 17,142 fans to a Minnesota game in 2002.
  • Men's cross country: won 11 Big Ten championships; recorded Top 10 national finishes in 13 of 14 seasons, including NCAA runner-up finishes in 1992, 1999, 2002 and 2003.
  • Volleyball: won four Big Ten championships; appeared in 12 NCAA Tournaments; and advanced to the national title game in 2000 while establishing a school-record with a 34-3 mark.
  • Men's hockey: appeared in nine NCAA Tournaments; won a national title in 1990 and were NCAA runners-up in 1992; and topped the nation in college hockey attendance every season of his tenure (additionally, Pat's son, Barry, was a Badger All-America defenseman in 1993).

Three teams - men's hockey (1989-90), men's crew (1989-90) and men's soccer (1995) - won national championships and 50 sports won Big Ten Conference titles during his tenure. Wisconsin also placed in the Top 25 of Director's Cup (national all-sport rankings) in eight of 10 years.

Off the field of play, Richter's department was equally successful. Under his direction, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics eliminated its inherited deficit and built an operating reserve, became complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (by implementing roster management principles and adding the sports of women's softball, women's hockey and women's lightweight rowing), hosted NCAA Championship events in men's hockey, women's golf and women's volleyball and received NCAA certification twice.

Numerous first-class facilities were built, including the Kohl Center, the Fetzer Academic Learning Center, University Ridge Golf Course, Goodman Softball Diamond and the on-going $98 million renovation of Camp Randall Stadium.

Richter's own college athletic prowess is well-documented. He earned All-America (1961-62) and academic All-America (1962) honors as a tight end.

Richter led the Big Ten in receiving twice and topped the nation in receiving yardage as a junior. As a senior, Richter won the prestigious 1963 Big Ten Medal of Honor, which is given to the outstanding student-athlete on each league campus.

Richter was recognized for his college gridiron exploits in 1997 with his induction into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame.

He also earned all-league honors in baseball at UW as a power-hitting first baseman, but the 6-foot-5 center received his scholarship at Wisconsin for basketball.

Richter earned his B.S. degree from the UW-Madison in landscape architecture (1964).

Pat was a first-round draft pick of the Washington Redskins and played professionally from 1963-71. He excelled as one of Sonny Jurgensen's top pass receiving targets in Washington and also punted.

Upon retirement from the NFL, he earned a law degree (1971) from UW-Madison. After working at a Madison law firm, he joined the Oscar Mayer Corporation, where he was Vice-President of personnel.

Richter was honored with an NCAA Silver Anniversary Award for post-college achievements in 1988. He is a member of the State of Wisconsin's Athletic and Madison Sports Halls of Fame and the NFL Player Alumni Association.

Pat was enshrined into the inaugural class of the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department Hall of Fame in 1991 and added a Rose Bowl Hall of Fame induction in 1994. In 1995, he gained induction into the GTE Academic All-America Hall of Fame. The Sales & Marketing Executives of Madison named Richter their "Executive of the Year" in 1997.

Pat and his wife, Renee, have four sons: Scott (wife Khaki and grandsons J.P. and Cole), Brad (wife Chrissy and grandson Max and granddaughter Samantha), Barry (wife Kim, grandson Blake, granddaughter Alexandra) and Tim.

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