April 13, 2012

Be afraid, be very afraid.....

The below article, reprinted from espn.com, is exactly the mentality which should frighten VolleyFamilies and illustrates the new model of collegiate athletics.

PHOENIX -- Lisa Love is out as athletic director at Arizona State, replaced by longtime sports executive Steve Patterson.
Love had headed the Sun Devils' athletic department since April 2005. While the university said in a news release on Wednesday that Love is leaving to pursue other career opportunities, The Arizona Republic said that university president Michael Crow told her she was being replaced at a meeting on Tuesday.
Love, senior associate athletic director at USC when she was hired at Arizona State, hired two football coaches -- Dennis Erickson and Todd Graham -- and men's basketball coach Herb Sendek. The two highest-profile sports on campus have struggled. Erickson was fired after a 6-7 season last year. Sendek's Sun Devils went 10-21 last season but he was given a two-year contract extension.
While Crow put a positive spin on Love's time at the school, calling it "seven years of excellent service," he signaled that the record in those sports was unacceptable.
"Is there happiness over the performance of football over the last few years? The answer is no," Crow said at a news conference. "Is there happiness about men's basketball? It goes unanswered. How could you be happy about 20 losses in a single season? And so it is our expectation that none of our teams and none of our programs will be in the bottom tier of anything."
University spokesman Mark Brand said Love's contract ran through June 30, 2014. He said the buyout terms had not been determined because of the nature of her contract, which includes bonuses and other factors.
"But we expect it will be several hundred thousand dollars," he said.
Patterson already held a major post in the department as chief operating officer of Sun Devil Athletics and managing director of the Sun Devils Sports Group.
Patterson has held executive posts with the NFL's Houston Texans and the NBA's Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers. He joined the Arizona State staff last July.
"In his time at ASU, Steve Patterson has shown a level of sports management expertise rarely seen at the college and university level," Crow said in the university's announcement. "He is the ideal person to build on the foundation Lisa built and to take Sun Devil sports to the next level -- to the highest level."
At the news conference, Patterson likened the situation at Arizona State to the one at the University of Texas when he was a student there.
"We had a football program that had fallen on hard times after a great run -- many, many years of tremendous success," Patterson said, "and a guy named DeLoss Dodds came to town and he wasn't so popular when he first got there and he was there when I was a student and he's still there today. And he's built one of the great athletic departments in America, one of the great sports enterprises in America. I think we've got all the resources to do that here and I don't see why we can't do it."
Crow said Patterson will evaluate how best to support the football program of new coach Graham and the readiness of the men's basketball program to return to the NCAA tournament.
Patterson served notice that coaches will have no excuse for a lack of success.
"If you can't figure out how to come here and be successful, it's not ASU's fault. It's the person that's coaching," he said. "If you can't convince the best athletes to come and play here, with the business school that we've got, with the communications school that we've got, with the Barrett Honors College that we've got, with the great weather, with the great city, there's something wrong."
Under Love's administration, Arizona State won seven national championships, all in so-called minor sports -- two in softball, one in women's golf, two in women's indoor track and field, one in men's indoor track and field and one in women's outdoor track and field.

My thoughts after reading this article:

1. Football is all that matters, but a little love thrown in for Men's Basketball; the worst kept secret in NCAA Division I sports is not even attempted to be kept a secret any more.
2.  Arizona State won 7 NCAA Championships under Lisa Love but they don't matter because football was not winning.  ASU has won more NCAA Division I Championships the last seven years than these other schools have TOTAL (Alabama, Baylor, Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Missouri, North Carolina State, Oregon State, Purdue, South Carolina, TCU, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Washington - Just to mention a few); but it was not enough to allow an AD to keep her job.
3.  The new Athletic Director has zero athletic department experience before joining ASU in July; he is a sports management executive which shows in the article quotes.  This is about business and not athletes or the coaches who lead and mentor them.
4.  ASU is a nice campus in a nice city but the comments of the AD show the disconnect...ASU's academic ranking is no where near Pac 10 members Stanford, UC Berkley, UCLA, USC, U of Washington, or Colorado.  Their budget may be good but Oregon, USC, Washington, and Stanford are Fort Knox compared to them; collegiate sports are not like professional sports where you can trade players and contract a winning team.  If I am an Olympic Sport coach at ASU, I am just staring in disbelief at this article.  Football is getting everything, but we all need to win even though 5 to 6 schools in the Pac 10 are academically and/or financially superior to us.
5.  I am still trying to understand the connection or should I say disconnect, with the Texas Athletic Department reference?  The U of Texas has more money than the European Union and one would almost have to be stunning in their lack of talent not to be moderately successful at Texas.  Very much like a Volleyball coach who is in a superior location at a well funded, academically elite school will be successful to a certain degree with marginal ability.  I guess the AD wanted to try and demonstrate his connection with collegiate athletics because he was a student at Texas; a smart student indeed, but not an athlete.
6.  This is exactly the athletic department situation in which coaches are encouraged to cut players who are slow to develop or have not lived up to their recruiting evaluation potential.  Win or get fired is the message from the AD - Nothing was mentioned (maybe omitted?) about the academic pursuit of excellence by student-atheltes, the representation of the campus community, the responsibility of athletes and coaches being role models, etc.  Student-Athletes are just ammunition for the success of the program, to be used and discarded as needed.
7.  How much support in marketing, promotions, funding, staffing, facilities is for Volleyball when you read the AD's comments?  Again, I hope lengthy pieces of the AD's speech or comments were omitted.  But from what was printed, I got a clear picture that Football is King, Basketball is the Prince; everyone else shut up and win because you have enough as it is.
I wish I could say this is an isolated example at Arizona State, but the AD just put into words the now too common mentality shared by too many athletic directors and school presidents - All money to Football and Men's Basketball; everybody else win or you will get fired, no matter the level of support you receive.

I would think that the new Arizona State AD has great management ability; one would not have built the resume he has if you were poorly skilled. I wish him the best of luck in building ASU into a mirror of the Longhorns and their tremendous support of all their sports.  My concern is I have seen this movie before, and like the guys wearing the red uniforms in the old Star Trek episodes, Olympic Sport coaches come to a unpleasant end.

These are challenging times VolleyFamilies...more than ever, you have to do your homework on potential athletic departments.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting analysis that's for sure. Prospective college volleyball athletes need to be even more careful that they pick a school that will give them a great education and just hope that the coach they started with is who they finish with. I feel for the coaches, that's for sure!


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