The Daily Titan recently sat down with Titan Athletic Director Brian Quinn to ask him about the state of Titan Athletics. In the interview Quinn spoke about baseball's annual success, the possibility of football in Fullerton's future, our placement in Stack Magazine's Top 50 Colleges for academically minded athletes, the schools recent accolades from the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and the future of Titan sports.
DT: How do you feel about Fullerton's recent achievements, being the architect of our program?
Brian Quinn: I feel very good. It's really the student-athletes who deserve all of the credit. It's certainly not the athletic director. It's the students who are doing it in the classroom and on the playing fields and courts. These kids have bought into what we're trying to do here and that is be[ing] successful, both academically and athletically. I think I've preached over and over since I've been here with the coaches that it's what you do in the beginning, not what you do at the end. So bring in good kids. If you bring them in on the front end, you have a much better chance that they'll come out on the back end successful. But if you bring in kids that are trouble and have problems, then it's really hard to turn those kids around.
DT: How do you find the balance between finding athletes that will keep you athletically competitive and ones who are going to do well academically?
BQ: If you look at our most successful programs, the ones that are really doing well, then you look at the kids and how well they do academically and you look at those programs -- It's not just chance. It's no accident when they go out and recruit that they're looking for kids that are going to be successful on the fields as well as in the classroom[s]. It takes work. It's a lot harder to recruit when you look for both … You have to get in the homes. [You have to ask] who are the parents? What's their [the student's] background? What kind of education has this kid had? Now, that doesn't mean that you can't find kids who don't have all those things. We have great kids who might not have the good fortune of all of that in the home, so I'm not saying that's the only thing at all, but when you recruit you try to look at the whole package. What kind of a kid is this? What kind of values does this kid have? Do we take some chances sometimes? Of course we do. And do you try to help kids, and have we done that here? Absolutely. We have taken kids who are at-risk students, but we've helped them become successful and get their degrees, and that's the ultimate reward.
DT: Is this something that you've always instilled -- the academic side to athletics?
BQ: I have a real commitment to it and a lot of other people do too. It takes a team. You just have to keep talking. Keep telling people to do it the right way, you'll win. The truth is, as our academics have gone up, so has our athletics. Teams are better than they were, and if you look at the past, when we didn't do as well academically, we didn't do as well athletically. You have to tell them, 'This is the mission and this is what we expect,' and if you've got good people, they're going to do it.
DT: What do you see over the next five years for yourself and the [athletic] program?
BQ: What I'd like to see is to really improve the facilities even more. I'm working hard on that right now, to improve the gym. I want to have a new floor put in. I want to put in all new seating and have it come down all the way to the court so you can get that arena atmosphere. [I want] new locker rooms, especially for the women. Then, when you recruit, you show them the [new] Recreation Center as they come off the parking lot, they walk into an arena and it has a whole different atmosphere. I think we can do it. We're going to get that done. One way or the other we're going to get that done before I'm out of here. I want a new press box for baseball. That's an old, temporary, falling-apart press box in a beautiful stadium. The soccer field still needs a lot of work. A new track, which I can't believe the delays we've had on that, but it looks like we're at the end now. They should start construction soon. I'm trying to convince the department of recreations to have this entire field (intramural field) out here turfed with lights so that our students for intramurals and all that stuff will be able to play out here until midnight if they want to. [Right now] it's pretty awful and I think our students deserve better. I'd like to be the best non-football program in the country, and we're not that far [away from that title].
DT: This past year there's been a lot of push about getting back the football program. What are some of the obstacles to that and do you think that it could every happen, even if it is a long time down the road?
BQ: Is it possible? Sure, sure it's possible. We can bring football back. Will it happen? Don't know. I really, really don't know. I do know that it's enormously expensive and apparently when football was dropped, and I wasn't here so I can't speak to that, but apparently they were running a massive deficit. [They were] trying to keep afloat by playing games against the Georgias, Floridas and Auburns, and really losing very badly, but getting a big paycheck, and that's how they were keeping the program afloat. I'm not sure that's a good way to do it because if you don't have the funding, you can't compete. You got to remember that all the sports have expanded since they've had football here. The sports programs were different. Now, with all the emphasis on all these programs, you'd have to have more staff. It's a heavy price tag and it would take a lot of funding, an operating budget of at least a minimum of two million dollars annually just for football at the lowest level that we could offer it. And you'd have to come pretty much close to that on the women's side because of quality and gender equity, so you're looking at 4 million dollars. But does that mean it will never happen? No, it doesn't mean it will never happen. We certainly have an obligation to listen to the students and an obligation to listen to the alumni and answer their questions, and we'd be wrong not to do that.