NCAA Division III Breakout
Division III and the Internet - Opportunity Knocks
(Monday, June 10, 10:15 - 11:45 a.m.)
Good morning, my name is Tony DeCarlo and I'm the athletic director at John Carroll University. Stepping away, briefly, from some of the major topics such as restructuring, championships and their different formats and student-athlete advisory committees and things such as this, we decided to take a little different twist. Our topic this morning is "Division III and the Internet - Opportunity Knocks." Your first question might be, "what does Tony DeCarlo know about this particular topic." You're absolutely right. Nothing. I do know, though, how important this particular issue is to, not only myself, but to all of our employees and people in our colleges and universities. I know how important it is for all of us to learn as much as we can about this particular topic.
Before I go, I just want to take a special moment to thank a few people who helped us in putting this thing together. John Schael, who recommended Matt Arthur at his fine university, people like Tim Gleason who gave us some great suggestions, and Art Eason and Louis O'Neal, my counterparts on the Executive Committee of NACDA. All of these people have helped us in putting this very important session together.
I was able to put together an outstanding staff of speakers who do really know a great deal about this particular topic. I will introduce them prior to their particular portion in this session, but before I do that, I want to tell you a little bit about how we're going to proceed in this session. First of all, in a four- or five-part setting, we're going to give you an overview of the Internet, E-mail and why it is so important. Then, we'll move into the actual hands-on demonstration, accessing the Web and electronic mail. We'll talk about the process, the experience and the benefits in putting a program such as this together. Then, we'll proceed to where you go and whom you talk to and the people you get involved within putting this all together. Dick will give us a summary of the entire program.
Three experts that we have are Dick Rasmussen from the University Athletic Association, Matt Arthur from Washington University in St. Louis and John Douglas from Widener University. Our first panelist will be Dick Rasmussen, who is a graduate of the University of Rochester in both his undergraduate and his master's degrees. He is in the process of completing his Ph.D. He is probably as well known as anyone. He's been involved in so many capacities. He is presently the executive secretary of the UAA. He serves on the NCAA Council and the Division III Task Force to review restructuring issues. He's been a member of the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics for the past four years. He's currently the president of the Division III Commissioners Association and recently helped coordinate the efforts to establish the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators. Dick has coached baseball, football, and for several years, worked as a computer programmer and research analysis in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.
He's been recommended to our group to speak on this particular important subject and I'd like to turn it over to Dick for the first phase. Dick Rasmussen.
Thanks Tony. As Tony mentioned, I'd like to give something of an overview and set the context for Matt and John because they're going to get into more of the hands-on things about the Internet and the World Wide Web, etc. I'll try to pose some questions that you might keep in the back of your minds as you listen to Matt and John. One of the things you'll ask after listening today is, "what am I going to do with it on Monday? What difference is it going to make to me?" I hope we'll get to, "why bother with the Internet," or "what's in it for me? What's it going to do for me, for my staff, for my program? Is it really going to make a difference? Can I justify the investment it's going to take to get to where I am now? What potential does this tool have for us?"
Keep in mind that where you go and what you do will be dependent upon resources. I don't think anybody is going to try and kid you that the resources it takes to get involved with the Internet are significant, resources such as time, personnel, dollars and planning, as well. The resources that are required are significant, but they're not overwhelming demands. The least demanding part of the resources required are the dollars. The most demanding, if you're going to do it and do it right, has to do with the planning and time and personnel effort that it takes to do that. There are ways of doing that without having to hire additional staff. Matt and John will get into that later on. But, these are the things we need to keep in mind. Planning is critical because you have to have a sense of where do you want to go with this. What's the goal in putting this together?
I'd like to share the experience I've had with using these kinds of resources in our office over the last nine years at the UAA. Since we started, we've used an electronic mail system quite extensively. We've had all of our sports information offices connected with your offices over modems. It doesn't predate the Internet, but it predates the common use of the Internet. When we started out, we had to set up our own means of people dialing into our office with a modem. It wasn't that hard to do. It wasn't that expensive. At that time, we were fortunate and got a grant from Apple and got some computers to use. Nine years ago, the investment was between $2,000 and $3,000 per office. The investment now is probably at that same level, but the amount of power and resources you get for that are probably 10 times what was available then.
The electronic mail allowed us, with a very small staff, to be very productive. We could do preseason releases or preseason information booklets, etc. Sports information directors at each school could write up their preseason previews and stats, etc., put it in a word processing file and send it electronically to our office. Our office takes them, cuts and pastes them together and does a little formatting. Then, we turn it around and have it right back out within a day to their office with a finished product that normally would have taken, shipping things back and forth by mail, with somebody sitting down and retyping, a lot longer. It's that sort of thing that has been very helpful to us in getting information into our office and back out to our members where it can be used on their own campuses for press releases, etc. We've seen a lot of benefits.
When you're starting out on something like this, it can be very intimidating. When we started out, of the nine sports information directors we had, I don't think any one of them had ever used the laptop computer, but within a few months, we were up and running. We had files flying back and forth across the country. Today, the resources available on the Internet go well beyond what we did. There's more available for user groups where you can become involved with other people who are using the Internet through on-line services to exchange information about different topics. I should mention a list server and one has recently been put up by the Division III Athletic Administrators Association. The membership of that organization, if they have an E-mail address, will be put on that list server. It's a super mailing list. If you have a question about a particular topic and you want to find out what other folks are doing about preseason physicals or health insurance, awards, you put that question out to everybody on that list. It goes out immediately to them and they can respond to you within a day or two.
The thing that's making the biggest impact at this time is the World Wide Web. I'll leave the details of that to Matt. But, in looking at that, this is where we have the most potential for doing things. When you look at the Internet, you can describe it many different ways. It's new, it's not so new, it's been around, but the usage is new, etc. Yes, that's true. It's confusing when you first look at it. That confusion will go away quite quickly. Some people might describe it as a fad or a toy, and to some degree, it is. But, it's, more than anything else, a communication vehicle. You really have to treat the Internet as a medium, as a communication vehicle. You have to take a look at the typical questions you look at when you're talking about communications - who, what, where, how, when, why? If you do that, as we go through the course this morning, you'll find this useful.
As you go through the presentation and think about the kinds of uses you might put some of this into, where it might make a difference for you, think about who are the folks that you communicate with now and think about who the folks are that you don't communicate with that you'd like to communicate with maybe more often, or better. Think about your staff within your department, other departments at the university, students, both athletes and non athletes. As you think about what you do in your department, you communicate with faculty, prospective students, parents, alumni, media, other institutions, your conference office, the NCAA, your other colleagues and people in the room like yourselves. I suggest that as you look at this, take a look at the potential for reaching some of the people more often and more effectively.
As we're going through this, think about sending information out of your office to other folks, but also think about how you can get things back on the receiving end as well.
What do you communicate? Sports information and schedules, scores of games, stats, etc., your own campus information about facility schedules, building policies, athletic policies, conference policies, institutional information about where to go to get different things in your own institutions are all things that you can make available to other folks on the Internet.
Think, too, about when you communicate. When you're communicating with the various constituencies, do you communicate in real time, right here and now? Is your communication about games and contests delayed? Does the communication take place well after the fact? Is it daily, weekly, quarterly, monthly? How would you like to change that? Would it help you if you could communicate more often with people? Would it help you if, when you're communicating, it didn't have to take three weeks or a month to get something out to people?
That brings me to the question of where do you communicate. Do you communicate at site contests, games, with games programs, etc.? Do you communicate in person? It's often that when you're communicating with people, something has to be in their hands, or you've got to send out a publication, speak to a group, and it can only take place if somebody comes to your facility, if someone comes to you with the World Wide Web. There are opportunities for that communication to take place in a lot of other places and you are not so dependent on people making a physical link with each other.
Think too about how you communicate. This is in terms of the intimidation factor of the Internet. Now, you're communicating using things like mail, fax, game programs, brochures, posters, radio and sometimes on television. As you're looking at some of these ways of communication, think about the fax machine five years ago. You're probably getting many more faxes today than you did five years ago. This is another piece of technology that's evolving. Keep in mind why you want to communicate with people in terms of facilitating programs, instruction on your campus and try to make the application of policies more consistent, getting consistent and accurate information out there. You communicate to promote and market your programs to do some fund raising. You want to provide a service and you want to receive services. Communication is a means of supporting your programs in a lot of different ways.
That's the concept that I'd like to set for the discussion this morning and taking a look at some of the possibilities that Matt and John are going to present. There are things available for you out there in terms of sports information. If you set up a web page or a web site on your campus, you can have game schedules, scores of games, box scores, etc., there. Somebody can have access to them immediately after the game. You can get to it during the game with certain software for the media and other folks. Using the technology that's available today, you can get to the point of where you're actually putting radio broadcasts out. You have students doing an inexpensive broadcast of the game and that can go on the Internet. Game highlights, radio highlights and video clips can be put on immediately. You can have a web page, something someone can have access to very quickly, get it out there and actually see some game highlights. You can always set that up with a minimal investment of resources on the Internet. It's a vehicle for communicating with your potential students, alumni and people in the local area. It's a communication tool for parents who can't get to campus to see their kids play. It's not happening a lot now, but it's there and people are using it. It's going to become more and more commonplace in the next few years.
You can have on-line newsletters available much more frequently. Now, you may be doing a newsletter that goes out to alumni or boosters a few times a year. Well, that can be available weekly or more often than that. You can have a coach be on-line during the week for a day to answer questions from alumni. You may not get a lot of interest to start with, but these are ways of promoting a program and communicating with people.
There's a lot of potential with recruiting. You can put recruiting brochures on the Internet.
How many times when you're recruiting do you say, "If we could only get them on campus to see what our campus is like." You can do that from their home by taking them on a video tour of your campus easily using the technology that's available.
Administratively, there are a lot of possibilities. As I mentioned before, having up-to-date facility schedules and changes in your schedules. Kids can get to this information from their dorm room on campus to see what's going on.
These things are fairly simple to do. There are things you can get to that are reachable. The whole process of getting involved with the Internet and getting training is an evolutionary process. Ninety percent of the people that use the Internet have no formal computer training. You don't need formal computer training to do this. You don't have to be a computer geek to do this. You have to be a person who uses information and wants to communicate in one direction or the other. You get going with it. You muddle your way through a little bit and have a little fun doing it. As you get more used to it, the uses you get from it will grow. Everything won't happen tomorrow. It happens over a period of time. Suddenly, down the road, you look at where you started and where you ended up and you won't believe what you can do.
As we go through the presentations this morning, keep some of those questions in mind and try to bring it back as you're seeing different applications as to how can I use this when I get back to the office.
Again, I'd like to thank John for suggesting and bringing Matt Arthur here. Matt is a native Floridian and a graduate of Chamberlain High School in Tampa, Florida, and a graduate of the University of Florida. He's a graduate of the Defense Language Institute in California and has completed his master's degree at Washington University and is presently employed at Washington University. After this conference, Matt will head to Bosnia. He's served in the U.S. Army and is presently in the Reserve Unit which has been assigned to Bosnia for six months. I'm going to turn this over to Matt who is an expert.
Thank you. First of all, I want to thank the conference and John Schael for recommending me to come here. As was mentioned, I'm going to Bosnia in a couple of weeks. My wife said, six months or three days, go ahead to the conference. I tried to get her here, but she doesn't like to fly.
We try to have a computer set up, a modem connection, dial a local provider and get on web access. My presentation is actually on my web site at Washington University. I've done speeches like this to various groups. When we go to different conferences, we do these hookups. When we do the web demonstration, it's better for me to be able to point to the web site. From there, I can point to anywhere in the world I want to go to show you examples of how to use the World Wide Web. It's more effective than me carrying a disk. Just in case it doesn't work, I have slides.
What is the World Wide Web? As Dick pointed out, you don't have to be a computer geek to be able to use it. If you get involved enough to use it, you're an honorary geek. I was worried when I came here to do this speech. Here I am, the designated geek and I'm talking to a room full of designated jocks. The only thing worse, would be you being geek-jocks, if you're doing both.
The World Wide Web is information, pure and simple. The University of Minnesota started what they call "Gopher" about 10 years ago. Gopher simply puts text information on the network so they could communicate within the university. The athletic department could put up athletic schedules or any other information people needed to get to. It was such a cool thing that the rest of the institutions around the country wanted to be part of that. Gopher was the first big wave of information technology made available to everybody. The World Wide Web makes it available in more than just text. You can use graphics, video, audio and script. You can even put animation on there. It's amazing what we can do.
What is showing now is called Netscape. I'm telling the browser where I want to go. We have an outline of my speech that I put online in 20 minutes. I could also send E-mail via my web browser. I run computer labs in the residence halls at Washington University and connections to students' rooms. When you send E-mail, you can call yourself anything you want. If you go to a public lab, students could type nasty letters to the president or to a fellow student, etc., and they can say it's from whomever they want it to be from. All we can do is trace it to what computer sent it, at what time. That's a disadvantage.
The big advantage though, is when you're in your web browser, you don't have to have your E-mail running at the same time. You can just whip up a message and send it off to somebody. We highlighted in blue which sent us to my web page at Washington University. I could, if I want to, take it to the web site for residential computing. I won't bore you with that. It also has a link over to the conference that I work with.
Netscape is a company that went public about nine months ago. They sold for about three or four times the money that they ever anticipated. They want to make money. They are in business. They've never made a profit. They anticipate they will. The nice thing about Netscape is that, so far, it's the top of the line browser and it's free to universities. Universities can download it for free. Universities can use the software that allows you set up your own web hosting site for free. Most of your universities already have this. You can set up and post your athletic department scores, schedules, etc. You just have to know how to get to them, if you don't already.
Mosaic is also still in business. The biggest one on the market right now is the Microsoft Internet Browser. You've seen it on television. Microsoft, after many years of thinking the web site is no big deal, realized that it is a big deal. They want to
get a piece of the pie. It's a web browser. There is a little bit of difference. When you write something for Netscape, some of the fancy stuff may not carry over, or you may not be able to use it while you're in Microsoft Internet or in Mosaic. The people you hire to do this for you will be aware of this.
You have to think about who your audience is. If your audience is the fellow community or the educational community, Netscape is a good browser for you to go with because it's free and everybody has it. You're a step ahead of it.
Demonstration of the Internet Ensued.