Fran Reidy became a full time member of the St. Leo Lions athletic department in 1993. Along the way, he has served as Sports Information Director, Compliance Officer, Assistant Athletic Director, and Associate Athletic Director until reaching his current role as Director of Athletics in 1999. Mr. Reidy was good enough to offer some thoughts on the evolution of DII athletics, as well as advice for new and hopeful ADs.
What is one challenge that your program has overcome and one future challenge you see you’d like to surmount?
The one challenge we have overcome was being competitive in our conference and region. Prior to 1999 we had appeared in just three NCAA regionals and had not won any Sunshine State Conference Championships. Since 1999 we have won three SSC championships (Men’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer and Volleyball), one Deep South Men’s Lacrosse Title, 2 Deep South Tournament Titles and one SSC tournament title (women’s soccer). We have appeared in over 30 NCAA regionals.
The future challenge is to be a consistent challenger for our conference Mayor’s Cup (overall sports standing award) and to be a regular Top 25 finisher in the Learfield Director’s Cup.
What aspect of your tenure at Saint Leo University are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the academic success we have experience at the same time we started have the athletic success previously noted. We have achieved a 3.0 or higher for the 325 student-athletes nine out of the last 10 semesters. This past fall semester we had 49% of all student-athletes achieve 3.2 or higher. Our coaches have done an outstanding job of recruiting quality student-athletes who are successful on the fields and courts and in the classroom.
What has most surprised you during your tenure at Saint Leo?
I have been at Saint Leo for 25 years, since 1999 as the athletic director and I am surprised how dramatically the full-time coaching positions have changed in Division II. The model used to be either a faculty member and a coach, or perhaps athletic administrator and coach, or some type of significant second duty.
We now have not only coaching-only head coaching positions, but full-time coaching-only assistant positions and administrators with no coaching duties. Division II, at least in the Sunshine State Conference, is modeling Division I in many ways, and while I think it is great for our student-athletes, coaches and staff, I am worried as to whether we can sustain this model with most of us generating very little revenue when compared with our expenses to staff, scholarship and fund all of the programs we sponsor.
What’s your best advice for a new or hopeful AD?
My advice is to get involved in NACDA and the DII ADA as a first step. This organization has great resources and colleagues who are willing to assist, collaborate and share experiences with new or prospective athletic directors. There are grants and opportunities to attend the convention as a new athletic director.
The second piece of advice would be to use the great resources and assistant the NCAA staff at Division II offers. There is a new athletic director program which was started this year for athletic directors, and for hopeful athletic directors there is a mentoring program which is entering its third year.
How has technology impacted the planning and the execution of goals for Saint Leo?
The biggest impact technology has played is in generating the needed metrics – webpage hits, attendance through scanning codes, who is watching and listening to streaming broadcasts – to drive future decisions and funding initiatives.
The other major impact is how less reliant we are on the local print media to get the word out to alums, fans, parents and students about the great things we are doing.
Being in the major market of Tampa Bay it is difficult to get daily articles or results in the paper. With our website and social media we can connect with our constituents more readily and independently.