What career path led you to your current role as Deputy AD?
After playing baseball at La Salle University, I was fortunate to be offered a position there as a graduate assistant in the business office in the athletic department. Upon finishing my MBA, I took my first full-time job as Athletic Business Manager at the College of William and Mary. After two and a half years and some great experience under an excellent mentor (Frank Hardymon, CFO, Georgia Tech Athletics), I made the jump to Associate Athletic Director for Business Operations at American University. I was responsible for the athletics budget, but also gained some experience as a sport supervisor. It was also where I first worked with Ed McLaughlin, the current Director of Athletics at VCU and now my boss. From there I took on a similar role as Associate Athletic Director, Business at the University of Maryland. I was once again responsible for managing the athletics budget, but also gained experience managing the charter travel for the football program and as sport supervisor of the men’s lacrosse program. Finally, in October of 2012 I was hired as Deputy Athletic Director at VCU.
I spent 5 years in Compliance, 5 years in Development (Stewardship, Priority Seating and Major Gifts) and 1 year as a Sr. Associate AD prior to my current role. Fortunately, I was able to have different experiences at vastly different universities. Additionally, I had great colleagues along the way who served as “sounding boards” and mentors.
I devoted the majority of my career working in the three areas of marketing, promotions and development
- Manager of Events and Promotions at Holy Cross
- Director of Marketing at Holy Cross
- Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing at Houston
- Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs at Saint Louis
- Assistant Athletics Director for Promotions at Virginia
- Associate Athletics Director for Development at Northeastern
- Deputy Athletics Director at Towson
- Deputy Athletics Director at Kent State
At each job, I continually asked for additional responsibilities outside of my traditional job description.
Examples: I coordinated team travel (Planes, hotels…) for the 2004 football season at the University of Houston and I taught graduate-level courses at Northeastern.
I started in intercollegiate athletics in the area of NCAA rules compliance and worked at a number of Division I institutions. Since being at the University of Richmond, I have worked at some point in almost every administrative area and, in 2005, our Athletic Director asked me to fill the role of Deputy Athletic Director and manage the day-to-day operations of the department.
What does a typical day look like, what are your most essential duties, and what is the most critical decision you’ve been responsible for?
One of the things that I love about the job is that no two days are quite the same. I supervise the business office/budget/human resources, facilities and event operations, sports medicine, and strength and conditioning units, as well as the track and field/cross country programs. I also serve as the day to day contact for the men’s and women’s basketball programs and work closely with their staffs. I have standing meetings with my direct reports once every two weeks, so I typically have at least one meeting a day with one of them or one of our head coaches. On game days and on road trips, I spend a lot of time on donor stewardship. My most essential duties are strategic planning and budget management/forecasting which helps shape the direction of the department. The most critical decisions that I’ve been responsible for were implementing a new compliance and recruiting software (ARMS) and selecting a consulting firm to partner with on our 5-year strategic planning process (CarrSports).
There’s nothing typical about my day except that it’s filled with uncertainty. Regardless of how well I plan my day out, there are always “fires” that need immediate attention. That said, my day normally consists of meetings (to discuss athletic policies, facilities, capital projects, human resources, sport issues and financials), phone calls, emails, texts, practices and maybe a work out if I’m lucky.
In this role, critical decisions are made on a daily basis. For me, the most critical decisions are typically the ones that have a significant impact on our operating budget, student-athlete experience or have a broad “ripple effect” throughout the department.
My typical day includes two to three meetings… time with my boss to discuss current topics of the athletics department… I also attempt to spend 10 minutes in person with each head coach and administrator that directly reports to me.
The reorganization of the personnel of our ticket office was a critical decision since my arrival to Kent State in February of 2012.
I currently oversee our Marketing, Public Relations, Events, Facilities, and work as a sport administrator of men’s lacrosse, football, and men’s basketball. It is hard to describe a typical day since every day is so different. Recently, I have been working on the renovation of our basketball arena and that has taken up a lot of my time. It really depends on the time of the year and what major projects we have going on. In terms of critical decisions, most of the time they are made in collaboration with the Athletic Director or other athletic department management staff. Usually the most critical decisions involve the hiring of new coaching or administrative staff members.
How has the job changed in the last five years, how do you expect it to change in the next five?
I’ve only been in the role 15 months and I think it depends on the specific role of any particular Deputy AD. For those that are internally focused on the day to day operations of the department, my observation is that the business of college athletics has really taken off over the last 5 years. Spending has increased dramatically. While revenues have grown as well, it is has become critical to have systems in place to efficiently manage resources in order to be competitive and provide the best experience possible for student-athletes. From an external standpoint television revenue has skyrocketed, corporate partnership opportunities have grown, and social media has become a powerful force. Being aware of the latest trends and opportunities in revenue generation is very important in this job. In the next five years, the job will in large part be dictated by the changing NCAA landscape. New legislation aimed at deregulation will likely create new challenges for administrators in the areas of expense management, revenue generation, and student-athlete welfare.
How the job has changed in the last 5 years is a difficult question for me to answer seeing as how I’ve been in the Deputy role for less than a year.
Looking forward, while the Deputy role slightly varies from campus to campus, it seems that the day-to-day internal operations component will continue to be essential, if not more important in 5 years, as the AD’s role continues to morph into focusing on external relations/fundraising/revenue generation.
The ticket consumption behavior of our constituents has vastly changed in the industry of sports. Our fans have increased access to watch our games from home making it more difficult to increase game attendance.
All of the administrative jobs in athletics continually evolve as the issues change. Athletics has always operated in the public eye but now with social media our every step is viewed and publicly evaluated. I expect that trend to continue and our profession to be even more scrutinized as we move forward.
What advice would your present self give to you ten years ago?
Become a football or basketball coach and work your way up the ladder! Have you seen those salaries lately? In all seriousness, I would tell myself to network as much as possible. Often in college athletics, as in any business, it’s as much about who you know as what you know. I would tell myself to establish relationships with several mentors with experience in the business that I could turn to for advice in any situation. Finally, I would tell myself never to forget what it’s like to be a student-athlete and to factor that into my decisions on a daily basis.
10 years ago, I was just starting out in this business. I was in an entry-level compliance position at my alma mater and really didn’t have a very good understanding of the type of effort it took to be successful, nor was I sure where I wanted my career to go.
To borrow advice that was given to me, I would stress to my younger self the importance of taking ownership in the current role. By that I mean “live and breathe” the job and be the very best in that position that the organization has ever seen. I would also tell younger self ensure that I made my boss’ job easier by anticipating their needs before they do.
A: Produce results that matter to your boss (no other work you do matters).
B: Be curious and desire to learn something from EVERY personal interaction.
Be honest, straightforward, work hard and build relationships.
What is the most difficult aspect of the role and what information would make your job easier?
The most difficult aspect is the requirement of wearing many different hats to be effective. At various times you have to be able to think like a coach, a student-athlete, a fan/donor, an accountant, a detective, a salesperson, a parent, a judge or even a professor. Gaining that perspective and being able to apply it appropriately to any particular situation is very tough and takes time to master. It’s something that I work to get better at every day. The main thing that makes the job easier is experience. I would also say that access to the best and most relevant information available during any decision making process makes the job easier. That’s why WINAD is so valuable!
There were many new experiences that occurred when I assumed this role. One that immediately comes to mind is the number of people that “need” me on a daily basis – everyone’s problem is my problem. This level of continuous problem solving interaction requires the use of several methods of communication (sometimes simultaneously) and involves using every possible management technique in the “tool box.”
This unique responsibility leads to another aspect of this role that was difficult for me to adjust to – extreme multi-tasking. Rarely do I spend more than 5 minutes on any one task without another “fire” that needs addressing, which makes it challenging to complete the items on my own “to do” list. It’s extremely difficult to be all things to all people but that objective is what gets me going every day. I enjoy making others’ jobs easier for the betterment of the department and in our pursuit for championships.
Spending more time with student-athletes is difficult. We tend to focus on the logistics of running the business of the athletics department, though it’s important to remember that the student athlete and their success is the core of our work.
Like most businesses, we are a people business. Building relationships and collaborating with others who may have slightly different goals and objectives can sometimes be challenging. So, gaining insight into the best ways to collaborate and find common ground with others is always extremely helpful in trying to accomplish your goals.