USC Upstate Release
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – USC Upstate formally introduced Julio Freire as athletic director and vice chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Thursday.
Freire, former deputy athletic director for external affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, replaces Lee Fowler, who announced his retirement in June. Freire will begin work August 1.
“This is an exciting day for the future of Spartans Athletics,” said Dr. Brendan B. Kelly, chancellor of USC Upstate. “I’m excited for the opportunity to work with Julio. He brings a tremendous amount of energy, experience in Division I intercollegiate athletics and the vision needed to further advance our athletics programs. He also truly understands the lasting value of college athletics in preparing young people to experience success in competition, in the classroom and most importantly in life.”
“I’m incredibly honored by the opportunity to lead USC Upstate Athletics,” Freire said. “Throughout this process, I have been impressed by the people, the community and the leadership of Dr. Kelly. I’m excited to be a Spartan and I’m optimistic about the future of the University, Spartans Athletics and the community at-large.”
While at the University of Pittsburgh, Freire had oversight for fundraising, ticket sales, marketing, branding, multimedia rights, licensing/merchandising and television broadcasts. He led his team to an increases in all categories.
Freire, who was born in Tijuana, Mexico, has a breadth of experience in athletics and education. He ran cross country and track and field for Arizona State, where he graduated in 1990 with a degree in education. He earned a master’s in counseling from University of Phoenix in 1997.
He spent a decade as a high school educator in Arizona, working jobs as a teacher, counselor, athletic director, coach and principal.
Freire’s first job in intercollegiate athletics was at Ohio University in 2000, where he started as an assistant athletic director for development until they later promoted him to an associate director position.
He later worked at Tennessee Tech as the school’s associate athletic director for development from 2005 to 2007, before returning to his home state for a job at the University of Arizona as an associate athletic director from 2007 to 2010.
After a stint as a senior associate athletic director at UNLV from 2010 to 2013, UT-Martin hired Freire as its athletic director in 2013.
During his tenure, four of the school’s teams won Ohio Valley Conference championships, while fundraising gifts to the school increased by 300 percent and corporate sponsorships by 200 percent. He was also instrumental in forming plans to renovate the school’s football field, Harvey Graham Stadium.
He and his wife Cherie have been married for 20 years and have two children, Christopher, 15, and Gabriella, 12.