Daily Titan Interview with AD Brian Quinn

When Brian Quinn took over for former Athletic Director John Easterbrook, he immediately liked what he saw. "I got to see some of the strongest programs in the nation contending for a national championship," Quinn said. "And if everything falls into place this upcoming season, there is no reason why the rest of our programs can't be right there as well."

Quinn brings more than 40 years of experience to Cal State Fullerton, including 14 years as the Athletic Director for Loyola Marymount University.

The Daily Titan recently sat down with Quinn to discuss his plans as AD and how he plans to tackle some pressing issues that he encounters in his job.

DAILY TITAN: Probably the best place to start is to ask the big question. What are your goals for CSUF athletics?

BRIAN QUINN: The goals right now are to be at the top of the Big West and the Commissioner Cup standings. We need to elevate the entire athletics program. I think that's an immediate goal.

My second goal is that I want to continue the great programs we've already established, especially in baseball and softball. I want to make sure that those programs continue to be the best in the West, and we think we are right there with those programs. Our goal for both men's and women's basketball is to get them into the upper-third of the Big West.

Along with that, we want to see our non-Big West programs, like gymnastics and fencing, competing well in their own conferences. We don't want to exclude them from our focus just because they're not in theBig West.

Those are the main goals athletically for our entire program

And then academically, we want to improve our graduation rates for athletes so that we exceed the graduation rate of the student body. Fullerton has traditionally run a clean program, with little-to-no academic scandals, and I want to keep it that way.

TITAN: You mentioned softball and baseball being in the upper echelon. Do you have any specific ideas about how you want to move basketball up to that level?

QUINN: Basketball was on a three-year probation, as you probably know. They were two scholarships down, but [Donny Daniels] had nothing to do with it. He inherited a pretty rough situation, almost like a death penalty in some ways. They couldn't recruit at community colleges for a while so they were way down. We are off probation now, so we'll see improvement right away. We are going to see good players coming in. We are going to get better, I know we are.

We are playing USC in men's basketball this season, and I think we need to play one team like that every season. At least one school that I call "bell ringers." We should gain a lot of revenue when we play those kind of teams, which goes back to the coach to help him in his recruiting. So it's a real quick way to infuse substantial funds into the budget right away. The fans are going to love it. We've already received attention, it's been in the Los Angeles Times.

TITAN: It looks like the Cal State system is headed towardsmajor budget cutbacks. Do you foresee any of those affecting the athletic department and how do you plan on counteracting that?

QUINN: Well, so far it looks like the athletic budget will not be reduced. Most of the athletic directors in the state system are worried right now. They are talking possibly five percent across the board. I've heard that figure thrown out. This university, however, made the decision to spare our funding, and that is remarkable. But any new funding we are going to have to raise. The university is very generous, the state is very generous, and I have no complaints. It's the other stuff that we need to elevate and I think that we need to generate, increase income probably at least half a million or more, in addition to what we're already getting. And by doing that, we will see the improvements we want. We can't get to all those goals that I set without increased money.

TITAN: You were the Athletic Director at LMU during the Hank Gathers tragedy. How do you plan to keep your athletes safe and off of illegal substances, especially steroids?

QUINN: That tragedy was the first time a school went through something like that. Hank had a full medical clearance to play, it was just a condition that was very difficult to detect.

But that was also way back in 1990 and medicine has come a long way since then. We here at Fullerton are lucky because our head trainer, Dr. Julie Max, is the president of the National Athletic Training Association. She is the best there is.

Working with her is such a delight for me because we think so much alike. We are both very conservative when it comes to the safety of our athletes.

When it comes to illegal substances, it is always a major concern. It is easier to test for street drugs simply because it is less expensive. But to be honest, I leave all that in the hands of Dr. Max and our trainers.

While I hold a zero tolerance for steroids, I do believe that we are here to teach and I want our athletes to be educated about the dangers of steroids.

It's also our job to be observant of glaring changes in our athletes. If they come back from summer break 30 pounds heavier, it's a sign, you know something is happening. It isn't just them putting on weight.

TITAN: This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the football program folding. How would having a football team affect what you are trying to do here at Fullerton and do you ever foresee it coming back?

QUINN: Whether or not to take away football was a very hard decision to make and I know a lot of thought went into that decision. I wasn't here when the decision was made so I don't know all the issues. I do know, however, that financially it's almost impossible today to be Division I program.

The NCAA membership body changed the rules so that you couldn't play football lower than Division I, and still remain in Division I in other sports, such as basketball and baseball. When that changed, the world changed. And, with the student population becoming a higher percentage of women, by law, that has to be reflective in the types of sports we offer.

With the student body of Cal State Fullerton being approximately 60 percent women, under the law, the amount of women athletes has to be more than the men. So if Fullerton added 100 men, we would have to add proportionately more than 100 women programs or cut other men's programs so unfortunately, it's just not feasible.

TITAN: Cal State Fullerton's fan support has been lacking in the the past few years. Do you have any plans on how to increase that support?

QUINN: That's a really tough one. The bottom line is that if we win, the fans will come, if we lose, they won't. We can have the prettiest gym in the country, we can have the nicest uniforms, we can have everything. But the fact is that if we don't win, they don't come. When the fans come to our games, we want them to see a good product and we want them to come back. If we get them in the door the first time, through marketing promotions and hustling, they won't come back the next night if they didn't have a good time with the team. People say the students are apathetic. I don't think they're apathetic, they just want to see a good product. This gym used to be packed years ago. We would have schools like UNLV and Fresno State come in and the place would be rocking and rolling. You couldn't even get a seat. We can get that back again. It was a commuter campus then and it's a commuter campus now.

We want them to be as loud as they can be and as funny as they want. You watch, they'll get used to coming on Saturday nights if they have fun. That energy will get going and it will carry over to the team.