Photograph courtesy Campbell University Athletics

Despite the success he experienced early in his career, Omar Banks, ’97, yearned to break into college athletics. He began volunteering as an intern for North Carolina State University’s athletic department after his 9-to-5 job at IBM and then got a master’s degree in sport leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University while working full time at Fidelity Investments.

“The funny thing is, I was always told when I applied for jobs that I didn’t have athletic experience,” said the former Spider football defensive back. “But accounting principles are the same, whether you’re at a hospital, a corporation, or a university.”

When he applied for a job in development at Hampton University near his hometown of Newport News, Virginia, his diligence paid off. His interviewer realized Banks would be a better candidate for a completely different position: athletics business manager. Since seizing that opportunity, he’s made a steady climb. Following his stint at Hampton, he was hired by VCU, entered senior management at the University of Cincinnati, and then became chief financial officer for Virginia Tech’s athletic department — culminating with his hire in June 2019 as athletics director at Campbell University in North Carolina.

“The more people I met, the more encouraged I became to continue to rise up the ranks to become an athletic director, to run a department, because I got a chance as a financial person, whether as a business manager or CFO,” said Banks, who came to Richmond intending to study computer science, but switched to business administration after meeting Robins School of Business professor Neil Ashworth.

“If you do a good job, the next job always finds you. I’m a big believer in that.”