Markus Jennings was hired as the Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs on July 7, 2014. Jennings came to Sacramento State from Kent State where he was the Assistant Athletics Director/Director of Athletic Advancement.
With the Hornets, Jennings oversees the department's external operations which includes fundraising, marketing, branding, promotion, media relations and ticket sales. In addition to oversight of Athletics' External Relations, Jennings is the department's liaison with Learfield, Sacramento State's corporate and media rights holder, along with serving as the liaison with the University's Advancement office. He also serves as the sport administrator for football, men's and women's basketball, and track & field/cross country.
Since his arrival, Jennings has overseen the rebranding of Hornet Athletics with oversight of licensing and merchandising for the department. He has been the lead negotiator for the all-sport apparel, footwear, and accessary brand agreement with adidas and oversees the partnership with the company. Jennings also led the negotiating team for the new athletics ticketing management system agreement.
Fiscal year ending 2017 was another record breaking year for Hornet Athletics fundraising. The Hornet Club had a 42 percent increase in unrestricted dollars raised for the year. The Major Gift support of donors giving $25,000 or more resulted in a 49 percent increase from last year as well. Donors within the Hornet Club increased their giving levels 26 percent from the previous year with an average gift size of $646 per donor.
In 2016, the Athletics Advancement team raised a department-record total of $1.3 million in support. Major gifts secured increased by over 400 percent in less than two years under Jennings' watch. The Hornet Club, the annual fund for Sacramento State Athletics, has reached record levels of support. In 2015, the Hornet Club generated an all-time high of better than 57 percent new donor membership from the previous year. In 2016, that membership number increased another 58 percent to over 900 members.
Jennings has established and launched the first ever "Stinger Rep" volunteer program to help increase the awareness, engagement and funding of Sacramento State Athletics and the Hornet Club. Season ticket sales for Football and Men's Basketball has increased by 20 percent in his first year and he has directed the launch of the inaugural offering of Women's Basketball season tickets sales which has helped generate additional revenue for the program.
Partnering with University Advancement, Jennings has also overseen the planning and start of a capital campaign called the "Power of 1000 Hornets" which is an effort to bring an on-campus Events Center to Sacramento State.
A former baseball player at New Mexico State, Jennings worked in the private sector for 14 years before returning to athletics as a special assistant to the A.D. at NMSU in 2007. The following year, he became the development director for athletics at Valparaiso University. While with the Crusaders, he spearheaded a capital campaign for the basketball program and also negotiated the department's apparel and footwear agreement.
In 2011, Jennings moved to Kent State where he was part of a team which secured over $14 million towards capital, endowment and annual fund projects. During his time with the Golden Flashes, he also helped create and execute a donor based seating program for football and men's basketball and helped increase the Football Enhancement Fund by 269 percent.
Jennings currently serves on the Executive Committee for the National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD). NAADD is an organization which provides educational and networking opportunities for Intercollegiate Athletic fundraisers across the United States and Canada. The purpose of the organization is to establish the overall prestige and understanding in the profession of athletics advancement and fundraising. He is also a two-time recipient of the NAADD Diversity Award.
Jennings earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from New Mexico State in 1994 and added an M.B.A. with a concentration in finance from Clark Atlanta University in 2001. He and his wife, Brenda, have two children (Masud and Basiana).