Q&A with Titans AD Brian Quinn - Part II

Second part of a multi-part interview. Cal State Fullerton's athletic director Brian Quinn took the time last week to answer questions from TitanCentral.com.

TitanCentral.com: You've been at Cal State Fullerton three years now. What do you think your biggest accomplishments are since you arrived at this university?

Brian Quinn: [Laughs] I don't know... Obviously winning the College World Series. I can't take credit but I think in a small way we had something to do with that. I laughed because I think Ron Prettyman is here because I convinced his Dad that Ronnie should be here so that's part of it.

I think, couple things: Trying to bring the staff together. It really was a very separate department. People didn't talk. I think putting a little more family atmosphere into it. Is it perfect yet? No, but I think it's a lot better, and people say it is. People talk to each more and I think it was really important to try and get a community.

I think the biggest accomplishment was getting the budget under control. I inherited a massive debt. The CWS kind of messes you up a little bit. There are some expenses there, I think the school is going to help out but we're going to have a completely balanced budget this year and could even be in the black.

There's still some sins from the past, so to speak. The important thing is the 1.3 million dollar loan is down to about $300,000. And that's a large part to what the school has done, obviously.

There have also been some capital improvements. I think the gym looks a lot better. I think the scoreboard, the bleachers and getting the locker rooms, thanks to the Titan Hoop Club's help. All of that stuff, I am proud of that. Is it perfect? No, but it's certainly looks a lot better than it used to.

Academically, we are a lot better off. We've cut in half the number of admission's exceptions and, with the new academic environment, they would have just killed us if they stayed the way they were. The old days are gone. Kids are going to have to come in better prepared. We've really improved the academics here. I think almost 40% of our student-athletes are now at a 3.0 or above. Unheard of in intercollegiate athletics. We've worked hard at that and added better mentoring programs.

TitanCentral.com: On the flip side, what are some of the things you would like to accomplish but haven't been able to do so?

Brian Quinn: The biggest thing is basketball. We've got to win. I really want to see basketball do well here. There's still a lot of improvements we need to make to that facility. We need to get a major donor but I would like to pull the front of the gym all the way out, have the concession stand inside. Really make that front facade look better.

TitanCentral.com: Would a major donor really want to put his money into a project such as that as opposed to a new 5,000 seat arena?

Brian Quinn: Don't know. But I'm asking.

TitanCentral.com: How much money are you talking about?

Brian Quinn: I'd say at least a million, a million and a half maybe. Because that would make a huge difference when you come up to the front. The whole gym needs to be painted and updated. One thing we've talked about, on the gym drive side (north side), I'd like to extend the walls all the way out, so that the locker rooms can be expanded. I'd like all new bleachers underneath the baskets. Again, that's a lot of money but you never know. It's a lot cheaper than a new building.

So, the biggest disappointment I have right now is basketball. I've been here three seasons. I think it's getting better but we're not where I want to be.

TitanCentral.com: We'll be getting back to basketball next but I have a question pertaining to facilities. The school is building some sort of student recreation center on campus. It would seem logical to make an arena part of this plan. Why wasn't it included? Is it too late to add one?

Brian Quinn: I wondered a little bit about that myself, that there weren't seats put in, like San Jose State did, so you can play your games in there but you would still practice in Titan Gym. At Irvine, in the Bren Center, they don't practice in there... What I heard was this was a student decision because they are funding it with their fees and they did not want it to used for athletics.

TitanCentral.com: You have stated your goal at CSF is to make men's basketball a priority sport. What changes have been made to make this sport a priority?

Brian Quinn: I think a few things. The first thing is the improvements to the gym. I do think that's going to help us. I think the improvements to the locker rooms is going to help us. I think, and I love Donny Daniels, but since Donny left I think we did hire a good coach. I know they are really out there recruiting, looking at lots of kids and I think that's a step in the right direction.

I think the atmosphere, the men and women I believe they really get along well and the atmosphere is so positive right now. I think that helps. What else? The fundraising, we've raised more money. This year, overall fundraising has come to about $300,000+ which is so far over what they used to do. Being able to get a full-time fundraiser devoted to athletics is really a positive step for us.

TitanCentral.com: Will any of this fundraising help to increase the basketball budget?

Brian Quinn: Right know... we were so in debt that we had to get out of the hole and we are getting no increases in budget. Our budgets are staying the same. It didn't touch basketball, but four full-time staff had to be let go. I have one person doing two full-time assistant AD jobs.

I've asked each program this year to raise five percent towards their budget. I don't know where basketball is towards that but we didn't hurt their budget. Even this locker room stuff, instead of taking that money and putting it towards the debt, we're using the money to help the program.

Also, with Bob, meeting all his recruits, selling the program, selling the school, it will take time but I think it will pay dividends.

TitanCentral.com: Speaking of recruits. Obviously we are not Harvard and many believe that once the NCAA clears someone to play, then he should be able to get into a school such as Cal State Fullerton. In fact, it can be argued that this is one of the few recruiting advantages for a school which lacks funding, support and facilities. Why is Burton having such a hard time getting the players he wants into Cal State Fullerton?

Brian Quinn: Any kid in any sport who is not a regular admit must go through the Academics Exception Committee. The committee just looks at them and they pass him along to the head of admissions but that doesn't mean admissions is going to except the kid, it just means the committee has taken a look at him and ask the admissions people to consider this kid. We know he doesn't meet your standards but we're asking you to take an extra look at him because we think they are decent enough kids and because they are an athlete they can really help our program.

Now my theory on all that is a couple things. One, if you're going to bring a kid into that committee, do your homework and make sure there is nothing missing. It doesn't do us any good to bring a kid in here and have him flunk out. The other thing is, I want impact players, that would be my recommendation. If your going to bring somebody in, for gosh-darn sake, bring in a kid that can play, like a Ralphy Holmes. Ralphy Holmes is worth the chance for me. He not only can really play but he's done the work academically.

So when I was on that committee, we approved those types of kids. Now some of them didn't pan out academically, and some of the didn't pan out as players and that's a crap shoot.

But most of Bob's kids, unless I am mistaken, have been passed on.

TitanCentral.com: So can you help the coaches get kids in and puts some pressure on this committee?

Brian Quinn: I don't think it's ethical to do that. It's not my position to pressure someone but I'm not opposed to recommending a kid and Bob seemed very pleased about that. If I see a good kid, sure, I would recommend him because I believe in that.

TitanCentral.com: So how do you recommend them. Do you write a letter?

Brian Quinn: I would probably just call and talk to them... One of the things that would really be helpful in all this, in the past they've done what you'd call a boiler plate and basically every kid would be the same. I know when you sit on the committee, every kid they are saying the same thing as opposed to one that's more individualized. Remember they see a whole bunch of these, it's not just basketball. I think the coaches can help themselves by really putting forth their case.

TitanCentral.com: Some would say since we don't have the facilities, we don't have the budgets, we don't have the community support, that we would be able to get the players other schools pass on because of academics. Shouldn't this be an advantage that we should be able to capitalize on? To get good talent, like a Ralphy Holmes, we need to take chances, especially Prop 48 kids like Ceylon Taylor.

Brian Quinn: I really don't see that ending and you're right on. As I understand it, the Pac-10 and the WCC can't accept any Prop 48 students. So, some of these kids you look at, all of a sudden you jump right into their ballpark because those conferences can't even take them and those are our competitors. That being the case, that really helps Long Beach State, Northridge and Cal State Fullerton because we can accept Props in our schools. That gives us a little bit of catch-up in terms of recruiting.

TitanCentral.com: We would love to see at least one Prop 48 player a year.

Brian Quinn: That's another thing. I'll be honest with you. That's something I have talked to Bob about and we did this at LMU. What we did was we had a certain number -- they didn't do Prop's but special admits is what we called them -- of these kids. I want to say like two per year and no more than eight in your program at a time.

And Bob really like that. The thought of that means, okay, I'll give you a chance every year to bring a couple kids in -- and they really better be able to play. Don't bring them in and not be able to have them play, at least let's win with these kids. That's what we did at LMU, with Paul Westhead.

That's something, as we have discussions and we meet with admissions, so that's what I'm ... talk about how I can help basketball, that's one of the things I want to do.

Let's get it clear. What is this university and it's basketball? How many kids, legitimately? What kinds of kids are those? So my coaches really, really need to know, don't waste your time. If we're never going to be able to get that particular kid in, for whatever reason, then let's not waste our time it because that's who we are.

But if they knew each year and had the credibility... If I bring in these two kids, believe me, there going to be good enough kids, they will get through and they will go to class and they won't get into trouble and if I have that kind of a reputation as a coach then I'll do that. People will say, "Yeah, if coach brings in a certain kid, we'll give you two of those a year." That would be my goal. And I need to make that happen somehow.

TitanCentral.com: Do they do these things at other schools? At LMU did they have a "special admit" committee?

Brian Quinn: At LMU they had an associate director of admissions and he was marvelous, still doing it today. Any kid you brought in, he knew right away and would give you the up or down. And we're talking apples and oranges. A special admit at LMU was below a 2.8 GPA and the equivalent of a 900 SAT score. But it's all relative. The teams we competed against, that was important. Pepperdine, they had there own requirements. So I'm kind of used to strict academic stuff.