After the Coaches Caravan event in Little Rock (after seeing it twice actually, once live and once more putting the video together) something stuck out that probably never would have occurred to anyone who has really become engaged the last five years or so.
It was the leadership presence. Sure it was at Dr. Welch’s official residence so he’d naturally be there but Dr. Hudson was present as well. Again not a big deal to anyone used to the Welch-Hudson-Mohajir trio but for those of us around the program for a long time it should have been a big deal.
For years it was an unusual event for the president of AState to be at a Little Rock event that was athletics related, it really wasn’t that common to attend “get out the fans” events in Jonesboro for that matter.
The big mantra of the leadership of colleges and universities is that “athletics are the window used to view the university.”
What does it say when leadership attends events designed to promote athletics? To me it is a demonstration of interest and oversight. When the top leadership is present in the same room with small time donors and there are no barriers to access the fan/alum who does not donate at a level that provides instant recognition, it shows leadership’s interest in the event and gives the rank and file fan access to ask questions and make suggestions.
A president or chancellor may attend an event oriented to basketball or football and in the process hear questions or concerns about the college of business, the financial aid department, how well the office of advancement works.
The thing about athletics being the window used to view the university is that sometimes what that window shows isn’t positive.
Leadership disengaged from athletics may be presumed to disengaged from other parts of the university.
At North Carolina, a well regarded university in academics, that academic reputation took a hit when it was learned grades were handed out for classes that did not exist. If we cannot trust the school’s academic integrity regarding student-athletes where there is oversight from both the accrediting body and the NCAA, how can we trust the academic integrity involving students who are not subject to NCAA oversight and may be politically connected or connected to significant donors?
At Baylor it took the high profile status of football for anyone to notice that the university was not complying with Title IX as it relates to sexual assaults. The window of athletics has embarrassed the school but without that embarrassment brought by athletics the non-compliance might have never gained sufficient notice to be corrected.
Seeing AState’s leadership engaged is a positive that fans should not take for granted.The presence at fan events creates opportunities to express concerns and get answers. More importantly, if the leadership isn’t hands off it means less chance that AState will be embarrassed.