Rick Kaluza Article posted on October 28, 2013

Rick KaluzaRick KaluzaPenn State
Associate Athletic Director of Finance

Name a leadership trait that is most critical to have success in your position and why?

Not only in my current position, but throughout my career, I think possessing the quality of integrity is one of the most important attributes that lends itself to a long, successful career. And it is a natural fit within our Athletics department because it is one of our strategic goals. Both roles I fill at Penn State require me to exhibit a high level of integrity in performing my day-to-day work responsibilities.

In the Associate Athletic Director – Finance role, I need to be able to demonstrate this quality to the Athletic Director, my fellow administrators, our coaches and staff as a leader of the Finance department, with the expectation that others in the department will follow.

In my role as Financial Officer for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, I am tasked with representing the University Corporate Controller in not only ensuring our administrative area practices fiscal responsibility, but does so by following University policies and procedures and assuring that the fiscal integrity of the unit is maintained.

How has conference realignment impacted Penn State and did it change your strategic vision?

We are excited about the recent conference realignment that will bring Rutgers and Maryland into the Big Ten Conference. The addition of two quality institutions and athletic departments that are deeply ingrained in Penn State’s past athletic history has definitely put a bit of a charge into our programs and our fans, who will once again be able to enjoy the rivalries with schools that many of them grew up with.

Solely from a financial perspective, previously being the eastern-most member of the conference certainly provided for a number of financial challenges related to team travel…getting to these new members for an away-game contest will absolutely be welcomed. As far as our strategic vision goes, this will never change regardless of the changes taking place in terms of conference realignment across the nation…on a day-to-day basis, we will continue to be guided by our core values: integrity, academics and championships.

What initiatives are Penn State engaged in to increase fan engagement and what has the outcome been?

We certainly want to provide our student-athletes with an optimal fan experience, regardless of the sport, and are always working towards achieving that goal. However, we have found that we are not alone in feeling the effects of declining attendance, as many athletic programs across the country are now experiencing. Specifically for football, more fans than ever before are making the decision to enjoy the comforts of home and watch the game on their 65” HDTVs.

Thus, we have to improve the stadium/arena in-game experience so that our fans realize what they are missing out by not being here in person. We have begun to make investments to improve the fan experience in areas of technology (wireless technology, fan-friendly apps, HD scoreboards) and also have raised our level of social media participation. Still to come will be a more concerted effort on data mining that will allow us to improve our decision-making processes.

Where do you see incremental revenue opportunities for Penn State and how are you pursuing them?

In a time of ever-increasing expenses, creating new revenue opportunities is critical to our success as an athletic department. We feel very strongly that the Penn State brand is alive and thriving…we are reminded of that when we see the increased level of sponsorship interest by our corporate partners, most recently in the brand new Pegula Ice Arena, home to our Men’s and Women’s ice hockey programs.
Additionally, we will soon be exploring a variety of opportunities via an RFP process, both relating to revenue generation and cost containment, that should certainly contribute to our bottom line.

If a peer were considering subscribing to Win AD, what would you tell him or her about your experience?

My experience has been extremely positive and a resource that is my lifeline when researching and benchmarking coach compensation issues. The funny thing is…I used to use it only for that purpose, but the more I familiarized myself with the product, I realized that it is incredibly helpful in other areas, such as apparel deals, athletic guarantees, concessions providers, etc.

For the amount of use that I get out of the product throughout the year, it is certainly worth the investment.