The keeper of the budget

Tom McGinnis has been the athletics department’s CFO since 2011.

Sam Kraemer

For a guy who dreamed of administering the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four, Tom McGinnis sure has gotten pretty close.

While he admits he has given up on that dream, he has found success elsewhere.

McGinnis has served as senior associate athletics director and chief financial officer for the University of Minnesota’s athletics department since 2011, and he’s responsible for providing Gophers coaches the resources and support they need to run their programs within the athletics department’s $95 million budget.

He grew up wanting to be a marine biologist but changed paths in 10th grade.

“[Finance] was something I had always been interested in,” McGinnis said. “I knew that if I wanted to continue to grow my career, I had to find a path that would align with the senior leadership positions in college athletics.”

Athletics director Norwood Teague said the department relies heavily upon McGinnis and his work.

Teague worked at the University of Virginia from 1993 to 1998 and met McGinnis — then a high school student — while he was interning at the institution.

Though McGinnis grew up on the East Coast, he has always had Big Ten ties, as his father graduated from Purdue.

“I was the Big Ten fan in the middle of ACC country,” McGinnis said.

After completing his undergraduate education at Indiana University in 1997, McGinnis earned his master’s degree from Ohio State University in 1999 and began his career there.

“I really liked the atmosphere in college athletics, so I thought working in college athletics would be kind of fun,” McGinnis said.

While a member of the Buckeyes’ administration, McGinnis got accustomed to event management and other administrative duties. He tackled tasks like the redesign of football game management after the Ohio Stadium renovation and created a new strategic plan for Ohio State’s athletics department.

After 14 years there, he made the jump to Minnesota, inheriting a role left vacant when CFO Liz Eull moved from the athletics department to University President Eric Kaler’s staff.

In his position, McGinnis does a lot more than just balance the expenses and revenues of the Big Ten institution.

He also serves as sport administrator to both the men’s and women’s hockey teams, in addition to being a member of the NCAA Men’s Hockey Committee and Western Collegiate Hockey Association Executive Committee.

“I just try to be a resource and connection to those programs and our administration,” McGinnis said.

Joel Johnson, associate head coach of the women’s hockey team, commended McGinnis for his support to all Gophers sports.

“[He] really does balance trying to be conscientious from a budget standpoint, but he also has a heart and passion for seeing young men and women excel,” Johnson said.

But no matter what role McGinnis has, his influence is wide-reaching.

“He touches so many different areas, from the big financial responsibility he has to human resources. … His imprint is big now, and it’ll be big in years to come,” Teague said.