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Phil Esten
Deputy Director of Athletics/External Relations

Phil Esten is the Deputy Director of Athletics for External Relations. Esten has been with Cal Athletics since August of 2012, formerly serving as the Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations and President and CEO of the Alumni Association at the University of Minnesota.

Esten leads External Relations, which has responsibility for the overall Cal Athletics brand. With an eye on comprehensive and coordinated messaging, he is responsible for all departmental public relations and branding efforts with emphasis on the overall case for support and sharing the unique “Cal story”. Esten oversees development, athletic communications, creative services, marketing/advertising, social media and IMG. Together, these units work to strategically communicate with Cal's intended audience and generate key financial resources that support the overall Cal Athletics mission.

In his roll, Esten also serves as the Chief Development Officer and is working to develop a multiyear strategic plan and advancement model that will expand and steward the athletic department's donor base and increase giving participation to support Cal Athletics' 29-sport program. The model will include an enhanced focus on giving to the annual fund, major gift development and planned giving opportunities as well as alumni engagement and strategic communications with key stakeholders.

Esten served as the President and CEO of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association since 2010, working with 49-person national Board of Directors, and managing a $4.7 million annual budget and $24 million in invested funds. Prior to working for Minnesota’s Alumni Association, he was an Associate Athletic Director at Minnesota and had worked in the Golden Gopher’s athletic department since 2004.

As Minnesota’s associate athletic director, Esten managed the overall strategic plan for intercollegiate athletics, which included 25 sports and 225 employees. He was the department’s point person for the university’s new on-campus football stadium, TCF Bank Stadium that opened in 2009, providing oversight and serving as the intercollegiate athletics liaison. Esten also was instrumental in stadium fundraising, an effort that included $90 million in individual and corporate support for the stadium as well as more than $45 million in funds for academic programming and other University initiatives.

Esten, who has a doctoral degree in kinesiology from Minnesota, taught graduate level courses as an adjunct professor in the university’s kinesiology department for over a decade. He earned his Master of Arts degree in sports management from The Ohio State University in 1999 and majored in Corporate Fitness/Business at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. in 1995, where he played baseball. Esten was Assistant Director of Athletic Ticketing and Events at Ohio State from 1997-2000.

Esten and his wife, Dani, have three children – Lucas (seven), Cooper (four) and Hannah (two).


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