Jack of All Trades

July 28, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Jack Thompson will be there when Georgia Tech opens the brand new John and Mary Brock Football Practice Facility.

Just as he was there when the softball team threw the first pitch to open Mewborn Field or the basketball team christened the Zelnak Center.

He may not physically be present, but there’s no question he’s there.

At least his work is.

Every new building is a mark of pride for Thompson, who has been part of the Georgia Tech family for 43 years and currently is the senior associate director of athletics for development and senior director of development of the Alexander-Tharpe Fund.

“It really is. I enjoy working with the people that make these facilities possible and I try to get them connected in every way that we can with the school and constantly try to get new people connected,” he said. “I’m really blessed to have a great staff of people that work in the Alexander-Tharpe Fund. They do a great job.”

Thompson, was rewarded for the great job he and his staff — and staffs — have done on June 17, when he received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD).

He passed the credit on, not only to his staff, but to the alumni if Georgia Tech.

“[The award] was very special to me and it was a result of the tremendous loyal support of the graduates of Georgia Tech and the friends of Georgia Tech that have given money back to the athletic association and scholarships, the facilities,” he said. “We have been successful. I pay great tribute to the people that have worked with me and have worked with me previously for making it possible. I am very, very proud of it. Proud of it for Tech kids.”

The key to fundraising success for Thompson has been his ability to forge lasting relationships. That ability was what got him to Atlanta in the first place.

Having attended the University of Kentucky, he worked with Bud Carson at the University of South Carolina. When Carson was hired by Georgia Tech he hired Thompson. He’d also worked under legendary Georgia Tech football coach and athletic director Bobby Dodd and Dodd’s successor as A.D., Doug Weaver.

Those relationships led to his hiring at Georgia Tech, first as head of recruiting, then in administration, where he’s found his niche.

A lot has changed in the four-plus decades he’s been at Tech, but he’s enjoying the style of current A.D. Dan Radakovich.

“Dan is what I call ‘a new wave athletic director,'” he said. “He understands finance, he is educated in finance. Dan is definitely one of the foremost athletic directors in the country.”

Helping “accomplish the needs that Dan Radakovich passes on to us” is Thompson’s main mission. The current plan is a decade-long, $250-million fundraising goal. Six years in, Tech is well on the way, having raised $170 million.

Thompson is optimistic that the generosity of Tech alumni will lead to reaching that goal.

He’ll continue to go forward day by day, living by a simple daily credo:

“I would say, ‘I’d like to have a successful day for Georgia Tech Athletics.'”

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