Q&A with Titans AD Brian Quinn - Part III

Third and final 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: Let's go back to the budget. We are at or very near the bottom of the Big West when it comes to budgets for basketball? What plan is there in place to get us on a even scale with the Irvines and Long Beach States?

Brian Quinn: As far as budgets in the Big West go, I think we are one from the bottom. I think we are ahead of Riverside in overall athletic budgets. Our baseball budget, I have no doubt, is at the top of the Big West Conference.

The programs in which we are very well funded in, versus our competitors, are baseball, softball, men's soccer, maybe women's soccer, gymnastics ... those are really well-funded. If they aren't the top, they are really close to the top. That means salaries, operating expenses, etc. So those sports have to win.

I'm being totally honest with you. Those sports need to compete every year for league championships and NCAA tournaments, just like George Horton does. He doesn't tell you it's acceptable ... He told me what a bad year he had two years ago and I said, "George, you were in the NCAA Tournament two years ago, you were at Stanford and won a game," he said, "That's very unacceptable." For most schools, just to get to the regionals, it's considered success.

So we are very well-funded in some areas but not very well-funded in other areas. I don't ever want to touch the good sports, you want to keep them. The challenge is to get these other sports up to the same quality and same funding. Now, I think the institution is saying, "Hey wait a minute, these guys are serious. they've really reduced their staff, taken on a lot more work to get this budget into order," and that's what we did.

What has happened is, now I think our credibility is good. Now the next move is to improve our budget and I really feel ... I can't even talk about it right now, but we have some plans in place. I can't slip up here but we really have some very serious plans that will help us go to the next level, financially. If you talk to me, probably in September, I'll be able to tell you what's happened.

TitanCentral.com: We will definitely talk to you in September.

Brian Quinn: I really feel that there are some things in place that we're starting to look at that will help us plus the governor has made a commitment to restore the budget after this year. So you're going to see that, you're going to see salary increases again.

I'm a real optimist, as you know, but what we're trying to do internally on campus and what we're going to see from the state, I think we are going to see some real improvements in our budget. And the fundraisers, we've got to raise more money, and we've got to keep doing a better job. I think we are but we're not there yet. That's our life blood.

TitanCentral.com: In terms of fundraising, it has been said on the TitanCentral.com message boards that we should be treating this like a real sales job and that we could do much better if we offered a commission. In addition, if you look at UCI or Long Beach State, they really seem to go around to the surrounding areas and get some good donors. Fullerton has a ton of businesses within a 15 mile radius that it would seem all we have to do is ask. Is this accurate?

Brian Quinn: Actually, Steve DiTolla and his corporate sponsorships bring in about $215,000 a year annually. That's not a small chunk of change.

Long Beach, and I haven't been able to figure this out yet either, but Long Beach, the city, really seems to embrace the school. We haven't seen that in Fullerton, that they really embrace this campus and said, "This is our pride and joy, welcome to the home of Cal State Fullerton." I think until those arms are around this campus ... but it goes both ways. Are we reaching out to the community the way we should? Are we out there doing what we need to do to get all the people?

The baseball rally. That was the sign right there. The mayor, you could just see his enthusiasm. I see a change. Now, how do we capitalize on that? This is the time, we can't let this go by. They were all out there, business people, community leaders. We need to hit them all right now! As the fall begins, jump all over that, do a lot of stuff to get them back, because they were there and they were darn excited.

Will that help their businesses? I don't know. Will it help the car dealers? Will they sell more cars in Fullerton? I don't know that. Will they have more people in their restaurants? I don't know that. But if they embrace us ...

If I had my dream, our schools colors should be in every restaurant, they should be in every hotel, it should celebrate the Titan spirit. In other cities, you know you're in a college town. I have not experienced that here but I think this community can really be good.

I'd like to see banners up on the streets of Fullerton that say "Welcome to Fullerton, Home of the National Champions in Baseball." Why isn't that up here? While at LMU, it used to say, "Welcome to Westchester, Home of LAX", I wanted "Welcome to Westchester, Home of LMU", and we got it. We had all our signs and stuff up on all the city streets, we had receptions at the hotels.

That's what we need to do in Fullerton. And on campus, we needs signs, we need a marquee at the front, "Welcome to Cal State Fullerton, Home of the Four-Time National Champions." We've got to get that here.

TitanCentral.com: So have you gotten together with the folks from the City of Fullerton?

Brian Quinn: That's my goal. If I can just ... it's been so hard ...

TitanCentral.com: Well I can only guess why but it's probably because the school dropped football after the city invested so much of it's money into the new stadium. Bring back football and we probably get along much better with the city.

Brian Quinn: Yes, I hear that and a lot of donors went away with it. But let's get over it. Come on guys, come on back. You'll like what you see here. The budget has taken most of my time, I mean it was awful and I think as we get that under control, it will help. It's going to take some effort on both sides. I even think this Independant league baseball will help. With a Fullerton team, it will be their community event during the summer, that will help.

TitanCentral.com: Let's talk about wrestling and gymnastics. I pointed out on the message boards that, based on NCAA provided budget numbers from 2001, we could be saving nearly $500,000 per year if we cut wrestling and gymnastics and replaced them with a Big West sponsored sport such as golf. Why was the decision made to keep these two sports?

Brian Quinn: That's about right [$500,000 savings]. A whole task force met in the Spring on that and they made recommendations, and those recommendations are being looked at, but they came in very late. They are on the board being looked at for this year. In my opinion, unless some other funding comes into play where they can start becoming more self-sufficient, they could be in danger.

Now, if a program helps fund itself, and that's what other programs are saying throughout this country, I think sports that are not Big West -- and you mentioned two of them -- obviously have to be looked at and they are being looked at. The interesting part is they are two of our more successful sports and they get us some points in the Sear's Cup.

TitanCentral.com: Tell us about Golf. There is some confusion on whether this sport has to be added. Are we going to see golf back at Cal State Fullerton?

Brian Quinn: We have to add it, that's part of the Big West constitution. We were only granfathered in because we didn't have it before. I like men's volleyball, but I could not add that sport if I didn't add golf first. And I've been working on that. Courses, a coach, a donor. I've got a lot of that already in place. We've got a pretty major commitment from a man -- and I can't say his name -- to fund the scholarships for men and women. He's a tremendous guy, a Fullerton guy. He used to play golf here.

TitanCentral.com: Sounds like the making of a great Titan Hoop Club board member. Is he a basketball fan?

Brian Quinn: I've never heard that. He's a very wealthy man. A real gentleman and he wants to give back to kids what he had. And, I've already talked to a Pro who is very interested in being our coach ...

TitanCentral.com: Any truth to the rumor Greg Bunch is interested in joining the athletic department as some associate athletic director?

Brian Quinn: Well, it's a senior woman's administrator position and somehow Greg ... He could have applied for the position but the law would never allow for that to happen ... And there is no other position open, administratively.

Now, I don't know what's going to happen with this academic position, Christine McCarthy is on union leave and I don't know if she is coming back or not coming back, so there's a possibility downstream that something could happen there. Also, we lost our academic advisor, so there is going to be an opening. I would love to have Greg back involved in the athletic program. He's been such a good role model for our kids, I'd love to see him back.

TitanCentral.com: Tell us more about the locker rooms.

Brian Quinn: I know they are getting all new furniture, doing something with the carpet, paint, getting big screen TV's and stereo systems. It's moving along as I understand. Bob's really handling all of the details.