Former DU coach Todd Rinehart rises to top of college admissions field

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Former DU assistant basketball coach Todd Rinehart, now DU’s Vice-Chancellor for Enrollment, was recently elected President of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling. Photo: NACAC

Todd Rinehart, a former DU basketball assistant coach and currently DU’s Vice Chancellor for Enrollment, has just been elected by his national peers to become the new President of the 15,000+ member National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC).

Rinehart, a Toledo, Ohio native and former D-I graduate assistant coach at Bowling Green where he did his bachelor’s and masters degrees, came to DU nearly 23 years ago as an assistant men’s basketball coach under Marty Fletcher in 1997, as DU was in the process of moving up from Division II to Division I hoops. After Fletcher was fired in 2001, Rinehart stayed on at DU, changing careers to become an admissions officer.

“When you are an assistant basketball coach…your main job is to recruit,” Rinehart said in a recent college admissions podcast. “I actually had pretty good training to transition fairly seamlessly into college admissions work.”

Rinehart approached his new admissions work with passion and ferocity, taking on the role of coordinating DU’s Hyde Interview Program, back in the days when DU’s applicant pool was small enough (under 5,000 annually at that time) that DU could personally interview almost every applicant around the country. His work ethic and effectiveness were rewarded as he was promoted to DU’s Director of Admissions in 2004 and he became Vice-Chancellor for Enrollment in 2017, one of the University’s top executive officers.  

He has helped to grow DU’s undergraduate annual applicant pool to over 20,000 annually, along with higher average applicant test scores and GPAs, as well as helping to increase DU’s diversity. 

His national star was also rising as he took on tough committee work in NACAC in recent years, becoming an important national advocate for ethical college admissions. Rinehart is credited with leading the rewriting of NACAC’s national ethics practices at a time when his profession grapples with embarrassing bribery and discrimination scandals at top-level schools while struggling to open greater access to underserved students. His leadership at NACAC also comes at a time when the college admissions community is struggling with serving the institutional interests of the schools who provide their paychecks, while also trying to do the right thing for the millions of incoming students who must play the increasingly difficult admissions game, especially those applicants who desire to attend selective schools.

Executive vice president at Augustana College (Ill.) Kent Barnds said that Rinehart’s leadership goes far beyond his work at DU. “He has had a meaningful impact on the college admissions profession…He has earned the respect of his colleagues because he listens before he speaks and then leads with distinction.”

At DU, Rinehart has become a key leader as a Vice-Chancellor in the Chancellor’s cabinet, weighing in and leading on many issues that face DU, walking a difficult daily tightrope between DU’s academic, growth, diversity and financial needs.

Rinehart is no stranger to controversy, either, as he recently spearheaded DU’s efforts to become test-optional for undergraduate admissions, as DU joins a growing list of private schools, including the University of Chicago, American University and Wake Forest, to allow prospective students to withhold SAT or ACT test scores if the student believes those scores won’t help their chances of admission.

Rinehart is often seen at DU sports events, especially supporting women’s gymnastics, where his wife, Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart, is the 20-year head coach of the fourth-ranked Pioneer squad who made it to the finals of last year’s NCAA Championship team final for the first time. Todd met Melissa in 1999 when she arrived as DU’s Gymnastics Coach and Todd was an assistant basketball coach.

Todd is also highly respected by DU’s other current coaches, who know that his admissions team is key to admitting students who can help DU’s teams to be nationally competitive while also being capable of producing high-level college work. DU has the highest admissions standards in the Summit League, which makes winning in some sports harder than for other Summit schools, which have lower admissions standards. And in case you are wondering, Todd always recuses himself when Melissa’s gymnastics recruits are evaluated for DU admission.

We at LetsGoDU would like to pass along our congratulations to Todd!

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