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20 Questions Member Spotlight with Mike McCutchen

Feb. 13, 2018

Name: Mike McCutchen
Position/Institution: Athletic Director/Freed-Hardeman University
Number of years in your position: 11
Alma Mater(s): Freed-Hardeman University
Hometown: Henderson, TN
Institution Athletics Twitter Handle: @gofhulions

1) Why did you become involved in the NAIA-ADA?
I believe it is important to stay connect with other AD’s throughout the association. It is also important to give the AD’s a voice and the NAIA-ADA does a great job in this area.

2) What is your favorite part about being a member of the NAIA-ADA?
The opportunity to learn from others who are dealing with similar challenges.

3) What is the biggest challenge to working in a university environment?
Providing the resources that are necessary to provide a quality student-athlete experience while navigating the many financial challenges that we all face.

4) What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date?
As an AD, the addition of eight NAIA sports since taking on this role. My greatest accomplishment is my family.

5) What is the most important skill you have developed in your career?
It might be more a trait than skill but I have learned to be more patient through my years as an AD. I also have become a better listener.

6) Who has been the most influential person in your career?
Charlie Smith, our former AD who also served as the last commissioner of the TranSouth Conference. I came to FHU as his assistant basketball coach and we continue to talk on a daily basis.

7) What is one item you cannot live without?
My guitars. I love music and, while not a great musician, I love to play.

8) Who would you chose to switch places with for a day?
That’s a tough one. I’ll have to think about that one for a while.

9) If you could plan a vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

10) What is your favorite sporting that event you have ever attended?
2003 Final Four in New Orleans and 2004 Final Four in San Antonio because my son was able to go with me.

11) Why/when did you decide to pursue a career in collegiate athletics?
I have always loved athletics and had an opportunity to come to Freed-Hardeman in 1973 to play basketball. While not a great player, I loved being around athletics and decided that’s what I wanted to do. I have been involved in athletics my whole career.

12) In your mind, who in this industry can serve as a good role model?
Bob Wilson has always impressed me with his success but, more importantly, his understanding of priorities and where athletics fits in.

13) How has your involvement with the NAIA-ADA influenced your career?
It has given me the opportunity to learn from others. It allows me to hear from different perspectives apply the things I learn to my situation.

14) What educational or business experiences best prepared you for a career as an Athletics Director?
In pursuing my M.Ed., I had the opportunity to grow as a leader and I have been able to apply just about everything I learned in my work as an AD.

15) What challenges do you face when working with student-athletes?
I feel that too many student-athletes are looking for what they can get out of athletics rather than what they can give. The challenge is to get coaches and student-athletes to buy in to the idea that we are all a part of something bigger and we all have an opportunity to contribute in a positive way to make it better.

16) Would you please explain a professional success and how you implemented it?
When I think of success as an AD, one of the most important things I can do is to hire the right people when positions open up. The successes I have had in this area are the result of knowing what type person is needed for a particular position and making sure the individual is the right fit for the position and our university.

17) What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? What advice would you give to someone looking to become an NAIA Athletics Director?
The best piece of advice I received as a young coach was, always be you. Don’t try to be someone else but take the good things from others but adapt them to your own personality. As far as advice that I would give, say that it sometimes it is important to have a short memory and great expectations. Once we recognize past failures, we should forget about them and move on. We can’t let them define us. We should also have the mindset that great things are ahead as long as we stay focused and work every day to achieve our goals.

18) What was your biggest professional blunder and how did you learned from it?
Man, this is a tough one because there have been so many. This actually related to my answer on question 16. I have learned that hiring someone for the wrong reasons can be a disaster waiting to happen. It is great to be loyal to friends, colleagues, board members, etc. but not at the expense of hiring the best person for the job.

19) What percentage of your work-week is spent in your office?

20) What are you most looking forward to at the next NAIA or NACDA Convention?
The opportunity to learn from those who are experiencing the same challenges that I experience. It is always great to benefit from the experience of others.

About NAIA-ADA: The NAIA-ADA is comprised of athletics administrators from the nearly 250 institutions representing 21 conferences competing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The purpose of the NAIA-ADA is to engage our Athletics Directors with meaningful collaboration, forums and national recognition; empower our Athletics Directors in their professional development and leadership roles in the NAIA; and promoteNAIA Athletics Directors' collective voice on issues affecting membership and college athletics on a national scale. For more information about the NAIA-ADA, please visit www.naiaada.com. The NAIA-ADA is administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), which is in its 53rd year. For more information on NACDA and the 17 professional associations that fall under its umbrella, please visit www.nacda.com.