Press Conference Q&A with Pollard and Geoffroy

ISU president Gregory Geoffroy and incoming athletics director Jamie Pollard answered question from the media after today's announcment.

From a far what was your view of Iowa State?


Pollard: I was aware of the strong foundation that had been built and I knew when the position came open to me it was a diamond in the rough. Not often do I-A programs become available with a strong foundation that's already in place. I looked forward to hopefully having the opportunity to be the person who was selected to really try to capitalize on that great foundation.


What challenges do you see at Iowa State?


Pollard: It's no different at Iowa State than it is around the country. It's resources. We need to build a financial resource base that will allow us to compete with the very best. Iowa State is a member of one of the best conference in the country. It takes resources to compete with the programs we compete with. Specifically can I tell you I can't, I haven't been here long enough I started last night. But I can assure that my experiences at Maryland and at Wisconsin have positioned me well to know how to take a large auxiliary enterprise and make it work within an educational environment but to accomplish more with less.


At Maryland, North Carolina had more resources than we had. At Wisconsin, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan had more resources than we had. But it didn't stop us, because if you have all the resources in the world, if you don't have the right people and the right heart and the right work ethic it doesn't matter and I'm confident that we're going to be able to overachieve.


When the job opened up did you apply or did ISU come to you?


Pollard: As I mentioned earlier I really honestly believe that I have accepted the fact that it needed to be the right place at the right time and I had sincere interest in the position; it was a program that I'd kept my eye on for some time. At the same time I knew how the process would work. I was very familiar with Baker-Parker and how they handled approaches and searches of this nature. I just believe that if it was the right place and the right time that Dr. Geoffroy and Baker-Parker would find Jamie Pollard and they did.


Was your Labor Day visit part of a formal interview?


Pollard: We did that completely on our own. We believe that if it would work for me to have the opportunity I assumed the process, because Baker-Parker was involved would be handled very quickly, very efficiently and I probably wouldn't get a chance to go to Ames. So Ellen and I talked about it long before I had any knowledge that I'd be selected to interview. So we decided we wanted to go and prepare ourselves to what Ames was like. We wanted our children to have a lasting memory so that if the opportunity came that came last night, that we had to call them from Chicago and tell them that we were moving to Ames, that they knew where Ames was. They knew what a Cyclone was.


What was your impression of Ames?


Pollard: First and foremost Jamie Pollard and Iowa State share Midwestern values. I've spent almost all of my entire career in the Midwest. I was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I have a wife that was born in Texas, she's a Notre Dame grad but we don't hold that against her in our household.

I know where I fit best and the location of being a Midwestern college town from a far was very appealing. When we came to Ames it just felt right. It's the same size as the city I grew up in. The institution and the city co-exist in a way that makes it a wonderful college town.


We went and had pizza with a family, I believe it's called Campus Town in a pizzeria on a Sunday night. We just looked at each other and said this is the place. I hope we get the chance.


What are the terms of the contract?


Geoffroy: We worked very closely with Dan Parker on assessing the national compensation packages for athletic directors. We wanted to set the contract at the midpoint of the Big 12 and that's what we've done.


It will be a five year contract. He will have an annual base salary of $275,000. There will be annual incentives that will be as high as $75,000 for achieving academic and athletic performance goals that we will agree on each year. In addition we will place $50,000 a year annually in a differed compensation plan that he will receive five years from now if he stays as athletic director through that period.


Were you surprised it moved so quickly?


Geoffroy: No, I knew right from the beginning. We had pretty much mapped out the timeline, I went to the web I checked out starting times and end times on a number of other national searches. The first conversation I had with Dan Parker he mapped out the process that would be used it was very obvious that it could be done very quickly and this was what we were shooting for.


Would you consider yourself a people person or a detail person?


Pollard: I can confidently say I'm both. I feel I'm very versatile. My background was an accounting major in college and I worked at Arthur Andersen and I've spent a great deal of my career early on the internal side of an athletic department.


But I also had the good fortune to work for three individuals who are about as external as it comes in this business. I really feel that I've honed my people skills to a point that Coach Alvarez would not have put me in that role that last two years if I couldn't go out on behalf of the institution whether it's alumni functions, whether it's going out and talking to our donors, if I didn't have the necessary people skills.


I also know just the feedback and interaction I have with our staff that I have a very disarming personality, one that I know will fit really well with the staff that I've already met with this morning.


Working with Alvarez, did that make you a stronger candidate?


Pollard: It certainly made me a stronger candidate for athletic director positions around the country, because it put you in meetings, the Big 10 athletic director meetings. It puts you in the mix of a lot of really special opportunities. But I also know personally it prepared me for what I always thought, which is I could be a really good athletic director, but it gave me the final step, the final piece of confidence that said, ‘I can do this and I'll be really good at this.'

I'm just excited that Iowa State and Dr. Geoffroy and the search committee saw those same traits because we're going to have one heck of a partnership.


What did Alvarez say to you?


Pollard: Barry said several things to me last night.


One, he was very excited and proud.

Two, he said you are going to absolutely love Ames. Ellen and the kids are going to feel right at home in Ames.

Three, you're going to be working with one of the best football coaches in the country.

And four, we had a little joke. He's placed many football coaches as head coaches and he hasn't even assumed the role of athletic director full-time and he can already take credit for placing his first athletic director.


Barry's very excited and I'm very appreciative of the opportunity he's provided me the last two years.


What was your timeline, how quickly did this move for you?


Pollard: I visited Dallas last Monday and interviewed with Dr. Geoffroy, Dr. Allen and Dan Parker. We found out in the middle of the week that we were invited back to Chicago yesterday. If [I was] selected we would be in Ames Sunday night and have a press conference this morning; so it was a whirlwind.


Your interview in Dallas


Pollard: It was the first time that I've spoken to anybody at Iowa State about this position. Baker-Parker contacted me.


You kept this whole search a secret.


Geoffroy: My objective was to find the absolute best athletic director we could find no question and we've done that. I knew right from the beginning and particularly after talking to Dan Parker that would only occur if we could promise the best candidates that we would keep their names confidential. Many of them had great jobs and they wouldn't want to jeopardize their positions. We and the search firm didn't want to tip off the institutions so they would try to persuade them to not being interested. We kept the process very confidential throughout and I think it paid off. I can absolutely assure you we had a stellar pool of candidates to make this selection from. Jamie happened to rise to the top and we're very, very pleased.


What was your initial reaction, after you learned you got the job?


Pollard: I was very excited. Ellen and I were standing waiting for the phone call and when the phone rang I hoped it was the right message and I could tell from Dr. Geoffroy's voice immediately it was.


I would say there was a sigh of relief, it was joy. Then it quickly became the anxiety of saying, ‘we've got to hit the ground running, let's get going.' It was very special. You think you can prepare for it, but until it happens there's not comparison.


Do you still run?  Pollard was the 1987 NCAA Division III National Track Champion in the 5,000 meters.


Pollard: I'd like to say I exercise. I do run, but not as much as I like, but I still try to exercise.


Where do you see Iowa State's place in the Big 12?


Pollard: I know what I know from a far because I haven't had a lot of time to really get under the hood. I do [know] the facts that most of you know, which is budgetary it is one of the lower budgets in the conference.


That's all right though, 15 years ago Wisconsin was one of the lowest budgets in the Big 10 and nobody imagined that program could rise to the level it's risen. So that's not daunting to me. I'm actually excited because I feel there's a head start because the foundation has been laid and now we just need to work and strategically think how we can build and capitalize on that foundation.


Iowa State has a lot of positives you have to find what you do best and capitalize on that. Resources will be something we'll really have to spend a lot of time looking at both operating and facility-wise. I look forward to sitting down with all the coaches and staff and really talking through what prevents them from being what they think is the best possible program they can be; then working strategically to figure out how to meet as many of those needs as possible.

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