Esten named deputy director of athletics, COO for Intercollegiate Athletics

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour announced today (Oct. 6) the appointment of Phil Esten as deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer for Intercollegiate Athletics.

In his role at Penn State, Esten will work closely with Barbour on the day-to-day operations of Penn State’s broad-based and highly successful 31-sport athletic program. Esten will oversee all of the department’s external units and functions, as well as several internal operations with significant customer relations impact.

Esten will oversee the leadership of Penn State Athletics’ development, marketing, communications, and facilities and event management, as well as supervise several Penn State intercollegiate programs. Development of revenue generation initiatives, fan experience, strategic partnerships, multimedia rights and branding also will be among his key areas of oversight.

Esten comes to Penn State after serving the past two years as deputy director of athletics for external relations at the University of California. At Cal, he was responsible for the Cal Athletics brand and served as the chief development officer, charged with generating key financial resources to support Cal’s 30-sport program and its mission.

“We are thrilled to have Phil joining our team,” stated Barbour. “Phil brings an outstanding depth and breadth of experience to Penn State, including extensive campus involvement outside of athletics. He has a high level of experience with the external functions of a broad-based athletic department and will be a great fit for Penn State and our team.”

“I am excited to have the opportunity to serve Penn State in this capacity and to have the pleasure of again working with Sandy and her team,” Esten said. “Penn State is uniquely positioned to provide outstanding experiences for its student-athletes, both in competition and the classroom. There is great momentum in Happy Valley, and I’m ready to dive in as we look to provide the very best conditions for success for our student-athletes while serving the Penn State alumni, donors, fans and greater University community in a meaningful way.”

Prior to Cal, Esten served as the president and CEO of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. Esten previously was an associate athletic director at Minnesota for six years, managing the overall strategic plan for the Golden Gophers’ 25-sport program. He also served as the department’s point person for the University’s new on-campus football stadium, TCF Bank Stadium, which opened in 2009. Esten was instrumental in the stadium fundraising, an effort that included $90 million in individual and corporate support for the stadium, as well as more than $45 million for academic programs and other University initiatives.

Esten also served as the assistant director of athletic ticketing and events at Ohio State, where he worked from 1997-2000.

A native of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Esten earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), where he was a baseball student-athlete. Esten earned a master’s degree in sport management at Ohio State and his doctorate in kinesiology from Minnesota, teaching graduate level courses in the kinesiology department as an adjunct professor.

Esten and his wife, Dani, have three children: Lucas, Cooper and Hannah.


Phil Esten is deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer for Intercollegiate Athletics. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated October 06, 2014