To say Mike Carter had his work cut out for him when he accepted the director of athletics position at Oral Roberts University on Nov. 7, 1994, is quite an understatement. It was hard enough for Carter to leave a successful business and sports law practice to embark on a career change. But combined that with the fact ORU was just beginning its second year back to active NCAA Division I status with only three full-time support personnel and no conference affiliation, and his endeavor was even more challenging.
However, nearly 18 years later, it’s clear that Carter’s vision and guidance -- along with a strong commitment to athletics by the University -- has led the department to dramatic enhancements and unprecedented success.
His leadership earned him the 2011-12 Division I Central Region Under Armour AD of the Year honors.
Under Carter’s leadership, the department is now properly staffed with support personnel. During his tenure he has developed positions in athletic development, business administration, compliance, academic services, sports medicine, strength training, marketing and media relations. All of these support services have proven to be necessary for ORU to compete successfully in today’s world of Division I athletics.
Across the board, each athletic program has thrived with Carter at the helm. That success can be traced directly to the fact that Carter has chosen outstanding coaches and administrators to lead the Golden Eagle athletic programs.
Another key component in ORU’s recent athletic success was the acceptance into the Summit League (formerly the Mid-Continent Conference) on July 1, 1997. The formal announcement was made on Sept. 17, 1996, and came after years of hard work and dedication by Carter and University leaders. Beginning in 2012-13, Carter will lead the Golden Eagles into a new age as the department moves from the Summit League into the Southland Conference.
While in the Summit League, the Golden Eagles were a perennial favorite for the league’s Commissioner’s Cup, awarded to the league’s best overall athletic department. ORU captured nine Cups in 14 years. Over the past 14 years the Golden Eagles have totaled 74 NCAA Tournament appearances and two NIT appearances, two WNIT appearances, 68 All-America selections, and two Olympians. In 2008, track & field athlete Andretti Bain became ORU's first national champion in any sport when he captured NCAA titles in both the indoor and outdoor 400 meters. Bain went on to win a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics as part of the Bahamian 4x400 meter relay team. Pole vaulter Jack Whitt became the second National Champion, winning the 2012 Outdoor Pole Vault Championship.
ORU’s athletic success hasn’t just been limited to wins on the field though. The Golden Eagles have been extremely successful in the classroom as well, earning an overall GPA of 3.0 or better in 13 out of the last 14 years.
Part of the reason for those honors was Carter’s creation of the Eli Academic Learning Center, one of the many facility upgrades he has directed. Others include the construction and/or improvement of the volleyball, baseball, basketball and soccer facilities. New locker rooms, playing surfaces, sound systems, signage, and additional seating have assured ORU that its athletic facilities can rival most NCAA Division I universities.
Yet, Carter isn’t resting on his laurels. New men’s and women’s basketball locker rooms, women’s basketball offices and a sports medicine facility in the Mabee Center have been constructed. ORU opened the Golden Eagle Sports Complex in 2006, a multi-purpose facility located at J.L. Johnson Stadium which features a 2,500-square foot strength and conditioning center; the Grand Slam Room; and new offices for the baseball coaching staff. A 35,000-square foot indoor practice facility opened as part of the Golden Eagle Sports Complex in the summer of 2009. The Mabee Center basketball arena received a new state-of-the-art video scoreboard in the fall of 2008. Additional renovations for soccer, tennis basketball and baseball are under consideration.
All of these enhancements have been made in an effort to maintain ORU’s athletic success, and advance to the next level in the near future.
Carter and his wife, Paula have two grown children, Lizz and Cason, and two grandchildren. They are also the parents of late son, Scott, who died in December 1993 of childhood cancer.