The path that led to his current position -- as the athletic director at Georgetown University -- began before Bernard Muir played his first game for the Brown Bears' basketball team.
Few college freshmen show up on campus knowing exactly what they want to do in life. Bernard Muir knew from the moment he arrived at Brown University that he wanted a career in college athletics.
"John [Parry] was my AD when I first got to Brown and, as a freshman, I went to him, sought him out on one of my first days on campus, and just told him that I wanted to eventually be in his shoes."
Parry -- now retired after a 16-year stint as athletic director of Butler University in Indianapolis -- still remembers Muir's declaration. "In my 11 years as athletic director at Brown, Bernard was the only freshman ever to approach me during orientation week to say he wanted a career in athletics," he recalls. "A lot of students did it in the last week of their senior year, but Bernard knew it when he arrived."
Coming out of Gainesville, Fla., Muir garnered interest from such basketball programs as Penn State and Samford, but ultimately decided on Brown after his initial visit to Providence.
"When I stepped foot on Brown's campus that was where I wanted to go. I just felt like after visiting Brown that was the place for me," remembers Muir. "My parents always preached the value of a good education and we all thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to receive an Ivy League education."
Muir took advantage of his opportunities in the classroom as well as everything else Brown had to offer. In the summer after his sophomore year, the organizational behavior and management major gained his first college athletics work experience when he interned in the athletic department. That summer he worked closely on the construction management of the 2,500-seat Pizzitola Sports Center, and in his senior year, Muir would co-captain the 1989-90 Bear squad that christened that new arena with a win over cross-town rival Bryant College.
After wrapping up a solid basketball career and graduating in 1990, Muir ran into his old athletic director, who had moved on to Butler during his senior year. "I remember telling him, 'Hey, if no one else hires you I've got a job as an intern at Butler,'" Parry recalls today. Muir took Parry up on his offer and moved to Indianapolis where he began his rapid rise up the college sports ladder.
Muir's year at Butler happened to be the same year it co-hosted the NCAA Final Four, providing him with another opportunity to gain invaluable experience in the business. "That was my exposure to not only campus life as an administrator but also a chance to work on one of the NCAA's most prestigious events."
When Muir's year in Indianapolis came to a close, he went back to school and earned a master's degree in Sports Administration from Ohio University. After a few more stops, Muir used the network he established at Brown to obtain a position with the NCAA. Starting out as an assistant director of the Men's Basketball Tournament, he was made director in 1998.
After two years of overseeing all the planning and logistics of the tournament, Muir was ready to take the next step to fulfilling the dream he articulated during his first days at Brown. He was approached by Kevin White, the athletic director of Notre Dame, who offered him a position in the athletic department. "Kevin always told me, 'If you want to be an AD, what better place to come to and learn than Notre Dame.'"
Muir left his NCAA post and moved up the road to South Bend where he served as a deputy athletic director. His position allowed him to once again interact directly with student-athletes, a passion that steered him toward a career in college athletics.
At Notre Dame, Muir was also able to work extensively with the storied football program. "I certainly learned a lot from that experience, being there five years and especially working closely with the football program which has tremendous prestige. It was a great chance to really see Division I athletics at a high level."
The "big-time" college sports experience Muir gained at Notre Dame put him in line to become an athletic director and in the summer of 2005, at the age of 36, he was named Georgetown University's athletics director, making him the youngest athletic director in the Big East and one of the youngest in the country.
Georgetown President John J. DeGioia knew he was fortunate to land Muir, who White calls "a natural leader."
"[Bernard] has brought great energy and direction to Georgetown's athletic programs," DeGioia recently said. "I am confident in his commitment to athletic and academic excellence, integrity, and to creating a tremendous experience for every student-athlete."
And Muir has teamed up with an old Ivy League foe -- Princeton grad John Thompson III, head coach of the Hoya basketball team.
"It's funny, I remember playing against him; he does not remember playing against me. And he has told me that repeatedly," jokes Muir.
"I'm not sure how much Bernard got into the game," Thompson said while both were on hand for the 2006 Fritz Pollard award ceremony at Brown this past September. "I don't tease him too much about that though. He is still the athletic director."
Back at Georgetown, Muir has not forgotten about his experiences at Brown and the opportunities his time in Providence provided, as they shape his goals in Washington.
"I look back at my Brown experience and the opportunities an athletic director provided me and then I do think it's my responsibility to help young kids identify their talents," says Muir. "I'd love for our student-athletes to walk away from here saying Georgetown did right by them and provided them a great forum, not only to compete at the highest level, but also to get a great education."
"If it wasn't for Brown and the opportunities it afforded me, I certainly wouldn't be in this position."
— Wesley Harris