NAIA Breakout Session
Qualities Needed by Athletics Administrators in the
Year 2000 and Beyond: What Should Our Priorities Be?
(Tuesday, June 15, 10:40 - 11:45 a.m.)
Thank you for attending this NAIA workshop. I'm sorry to disappoint you. I'm not Ira Neff from Nebraska Wesleyan. Ira had a conflict with this session. My name is Bob Boerigter from Hastings College. It's my pleasure to serve as the moderator for this session today. I have a couple of announcements before we get started. First of all, as you came in, there were some evaluation forms at the desk and I would encourage you to complete that. It has a space for evaluation on the workshops today as well as we're seeking some information from you in terms of what you would desire for workshops in the future. Please complete these and give them to one of the NAIA staff here today or drop it in the mail to the national office.
Also, as it relates to the general Convention, I'm going to call on Greg Feris to make an announcement.
Thank you Bob. When you registered for NACDA this year, in our packet of materials there was a Convention evaluation form. Many of us get back home and forget to do this. Let me encourage you, on behalf of NACDA, to complete this before you even leave the Convention and hand it one of the NACDA staff. At the very least, there is a mailing address on it and send it back when you return to your campus. Not only does it ask you to evaluate these sessions as they pertain to the NAIA, but the general sessions, the exhibits, the Convention in general. It's very important to the Executive Committee when they meet in January. They use these things to plan for the next Convention.
We've got a great crowd here this morning for our workshops. The reason I think these evaluation forms are important for the NAIA is that they track these things in terms of what divisions actually turn them back in. I would encourage you to do this at some point in time. It was in your packet materials that you were handed when you registered.
Thank you Greg. We all know what a dynamic profession we are involved in. A lot of changes are occurring every day. We've had it said at this Convention that never at any time in our history have athletics administrators had more responsibilities, but with less authority.
We're only six months away from the new millennium, the new century, the year 2000. As we begin to look at the year 2000, we would ask what qualities are necessary in the year 2000 and beyond for us to be successful as athletics administrators. What should our priorities be? Stephen Covey might just say, deal with quadrant number three. I think today we're going to hear from four of our peers in terms of what their perspectives are on where our priorities should be as we approach the year 2000.
It's my pleasure to introduce the members of our panel. Dr. Peggy Anderson, the director of athletics at Eastern Oregon University. Dr. Anderson, as you know, was the NACDANAIA Athletics Administrator of the Year. Next, is Larry Lady, the commissioner of the Heart of America Conference; Dave Bireline, the director of athletics at Taylor University; Dr. Mike Fratzke, the director of athletics from Indiana Wesleyan University. We want to make this informal. If, anytime after one of the panelists has made a comment and you want to ask a question, please feel free to do so. We want this to be as interactive as possible.
The first question I'm going to address to the panel is how did you get into administration and your position? Was this by design or accident? When that occurred, what qualities or skills do you think were needed at that time to be successful in athletics administration?
Sometimes being at the right place at the right time puts you in a position of leadership even though that might have not been in your long-range plans. I was asked by a president when I moved from a position in New Mexico back to Eastern Oregon if I would consider being athletics director. I had left athletics when I was at the University of Arizona to pursue a career in teaching and professionalism. I told him I wasn't interested. I enjoyed athletics, I got athletics started at his institution, but I thought he needed someone more dedicated in administration. He convinced me after five phone calls and I'm still doing what I still pursue as a dedication of getting a program to the right level. I'd like to turn it over to someone who has qualities that you can now be prepared for. We have degrees in sports administration both at the masters level and at the doctorate level that prepare people in marketing, promotion and a lot of things that my profession didn't prepare me for. I had to learn on the job. Times are changing.
My situation as to becoming the commissioner of the Heart of America Conference is one of surviving retirement from my professional career and keeping my wife from shooting me and me driving her crazy. I retired from my professional career in 1992. I had been officiating college basketball at all levels since 1959. A great deal of that was spent at the NAIA level. I worked the NAIA national tournament. In fact, Bob Boerigter was the red coat who kept me in line during that time. Charlie Burry, who many of you remember, had been commissioner of the Heart of America. I had worked for him as an official for many years. Charlie decided to retire and asked me if I would apply for the job. I wasn't looking for a job. I'd only been retired for about six or eight months, but my wife was looking for a job for me. I accepted the invitation to apply for the job and it has been a Godsend for me. It has given me an opportunity to give back a little bit of what the NAIA has given to me for so many years.
When I was asked to be on this panel, I felt almost out of place. I'm really not an athletics administrator in the sense of the word that you all are. My hope or goal today is to communicate and share some things with you from an outsider's view and maybe find ways to better work with you to help you accomplish your jobs. I work for the athletics administrators in our conference. I'm not one of them. I really want everyone to understand that any comments I make today would be only from the perspective of an outside person outside your institution as a commissioner to make you aware of what we might be able to do to help each other.
My first position in athletics administration was being in the right place at the right time or, more appropriately, divine intervention. I feel that was God's plan for my life at that time. I was on the faculty and staff in Texas from 1972 until 1976 and applied and was granted a leave of absence. During that fall faculty conference, our athletics director resigned to take another position. At that point in time, the administration approached me about assuming the athletics directorship from basically handling the paper work during that year while pursuing my doctorate. I did and I've been in athletics administration ever since. I was there for 12 years. At the end of that 12 years, I sensed I was doing a lot of the right things and we were making the right approaches to what we wanted, but I felt I wanted more of a comprehensive professional challenge in athletics. At that time, there was a search at Indiana Wesleyan University and I applied and was selected there. I've been there for 15 years.
For me, when Bob asked for the panel to be put together, he wanted someone who was young and relatively young and that was me. I've been at Taylor for two years. For me to get into administration was very much by accident. I spent six years at Seattle Pacific as an assistant basketball coach and assistant AD. I thought that athletics administration would be something that I would like to go into when I finished my coaching career. As I moved back to Indiana and things happened and the Lord worked in my life, I ended up at Taylor.
As you can see, each one of us comes to the profession in different ways. We're going to ask them one more question and then begin to look into the future. My next question is what has changed most about your job recently? We'll define recently as in the last five months or the last five years. Along with that, what do you perceive to be the greatest challenges in the immediate future?
For us at Taylor, what has changed for me, has been that the president's office has asked us, in athletics, to look at the salary structure for athletics administration and how we pay our coaches, assistant coaches, SIDs, trainers, the entire athletics staff. Years ago, it had been tied directly to the academic grid, which I'm sure, all of us have. That has not worked very well for Taylor for the past five or six years. When I came on board, there was a major salary discrepancy as far as how coaches were being paid. There were quite a few unhappy people on staff.
The president's office brought a task force together and put me in charge and we are now in the process of going through and putting together our own criteria and our own salary structure for athletics coaches, support staff and everyone else. At the same time, being part of their contract, being tied to the academic side of things, where coaches are still teaching in the classroom. All of our coaches teach full-time.
Over the last five months, my job has been consumed with facilities. We are in a tremendous growth mode at Indiana Wesleyan over the last 10 years. We have been adding several buildings to our campus in trying to improve the overall campus life. Our old facilities needed to be replaced. This last five months, the things I've had to face are all around moving and building and renovating buildings. Between what mascot we're going to put in the middle of the floor to what paint we're going to put on the walls in this building or that building and the tiles in this building looks terrible, get rid of it, working with architects and construction managers, has kept me busy.
The things that have changed the most since becoming commissioner are in two areas. Number one is women's athletics. In our conference, in particular, has seen great changes in women's athletics. Our teams have become more competitive. We have recruited and hired stronger coaches in the women's athletics programs to bring those programs up to the level of the men's programs. Great change has taken place and progress is enormous. There are several of our athletics directors in here today and I think they would agree with that.
The other thing that has changed a great deal from our conference perspective and from most of our institutions is they have come to be committed to the NAIA, working through the struggles and changes that have occurred in the NAIA. One of the things the conference did for me was to free me up to participate at the national level. Not only to do the conference business, but the freedom to be involved and do as much of the leg work that the NAIA would require during this period of transition from our very troubled times through these last years. With the help of Steve Baker and the NAIA staff and the Task Force on Regional Enhancement, we've made this transition. The women's athletics, the regional enhancement and just the NAIA survival plan has been the biggest change for me.
You spend a lot of time on your on-going issues, but as Dave said, we're trying to look at ways to make our part-time coaches who do not have teaching responsibilities have an equitable reimbursement for their time and effort as our full-time coaches who also teach. We're trying to bring their proportionalities into place. The release time our people get who are full-time, we're trying to give to our part-time on that same release basis.
We're also dealing with some future plans on facilities. I wish I were closer to Mike in actually being able to choose the colors and designs. We have almost a triple expansion of our weight room fitness center on line to be done in two years. I'd like to be able to move it up, not back. We also have a phase three expansion that we've just started to talk to the architects about.
We're always dealing with gender equity, trying to make sure we are in balance. Our philosophy is to try to provide equitable opportunities for both men and women. We find that on our campus that has 52 percent women and 48 percent men, many talented women would rather play in our intramural program than in our athletics program. That makes it very difficult. We are online to add another women's sport as a club sport. We are trying to meet the needs and interests of our under-represented sex. Sometimes convincing the other people on your campus becomes a difficult balancing act. You need students so you want to have programs, for both men and women. You don't want to decrease your men's programs but you want to be as close to balance.
As athletics administrators, we're asked to perform many tasks. Some of these include management of events, budget preparation and fiscal management, sports program development and justification, evaluation, hiring and firing of coaches, facility development, care and management, fund raising and program promotion, compliance and reporting as it relates to conference regulations, the NAIA, the NCAA, Title IX and Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act and professional activities as it revolves around the conference, regional or national levels. What is your current priority of time in dealing with these tasks, or could you rank order them and do you perceive these priorities changing in the next five years? What should we be spending most of our time doing or how are you spending most of your time currently?
I looked at that last night and I don't think there's an answer. I also tried to think of it during the presentation by Mr. Covey yesterday. We have to wear so many hats in our roles. I have a friend who works at the University of Oregon in a legal office making sure that they're in compliance with all of the national and local rules with respect to employment opportunities, etc. We were at one time sponsoring the same number of sports as the University of Oregon was, 14, seven and seven. We were doing it with a staff of 12 or less and they were doing it with a staff of more than 100. Yet, you're expected to provide the same types of practice opportunities, competition, facilities and meet the needs and interests of students in club sports and intramurals as well as teach. Many times, as much as I would like to plan and be six months ahead, I'm really not quite crisis management, but I'd sure like to get a better handle on how to devote the appropriate amount of time.
One of the issues I think we're facing is we have a change in the National Association of Athletic Trainers as far as how they can become certified. It used to be that you could have an apprentice program or you could have a certification program. Many of us are small. Eastern Oregon University has 1,400 students hoping to get to 1,800 and we have one certified athletics trainer. Last year, we had three students pass the national certification exam. In four years, unless we can add another full-time athletics trainer and get our program certified, those 12 to 15 student trainers that we currently are very thankful for because they provide good supervision to all of our sports, we're going to face an issue in the area of injury prevention, injury treatment and what's best as far as health care for our 300 plus student-athletes.
I'm not sure what NATA was thinking about when they tried to take away some great avenues for small schools, but we've got to address it. Does that mean we give up a coaching position for a training position? Those are the things I'm going to be wrestling with when I go back to my campus.
The other things we have to be looking at are better use of the technologies out there. The NAIA has a great web page. Conferences are going to web pages. Our campuses have to stay in tune with that. I am not a computer nerd. I carry one and I use it extensively for word processing, etc. That's another area where have to stay with in the coming age as we look at marketing and recruitment and retention of students.
I suggested in my opening remarks that I didn't fit. This panel and this question made me certain that I don't fit. Thank goodness I don't have to do all of those things, you all do as athletics administrators. As commissioner, I jotted down some things I feel that we, as commissioners, can be helpful to you. Anything I'm going to say, you've already heard, but sometimes we need times to be reminded of them again.
The one word that kept coming to my mind was communication. I want to speak briefly to that subject because it has become the most significant thing that's happened in our conference among our institutions in the past three or four years. The athletics directors who are in this room from my conference have been willing to accept my understanding that they needed to communicate with their presidents. It's hard to get in touch with the president because they are too busy. They've got other things they have to do. They are not nearly as busy as they want you to think they are. I really believe that. It's so important in getting all of this accomplished that you, as athletics directors, insist that your president give you some time, whatever you both can decide is necessary.
If the athletics directors can think back three, four or five years ago, I would come to board of governors meetings and presidents meetings. Neither of those parties had spoken to each other about any of the things we were talking about. It became so frustrating to me as a facilitator, which is all I am. If they have not communicated, all you do is go through a lot of discussion for a couple of days, then go back to the president. The president is totally shocked and unaware and immediately says you are stupid to come back and say this kind of thing. I would go to the presidents' meetings twice a year. I would say things like, "you mean the board of governors did that?"
We had wasted the entire time in coming up with these things to get done because the president wouldn't approve them.
(Tape ended at this point.)