In Part I of our interview she gives her thoughts on hiring coaches, the "Our State" campaign, an indoor practice facility, and much more.
How have you been able to bring in quality coaches even with the lack of results/success in each particular sport?
There are a number of factors that seemed to have entered in to every hire we've made. One is their shared passion in our push toward excellence. All of the coaches we've hired so far think what we think. They want to achieve something great in their career. They don't want to be mediocre, or as one of my staff says, they don't want to be a ‘paycheck thief.' There is a trust there - they believe. Part of the belief and the trust is that they understand that historically, I have supported my coaches and teams.
It is important to match resources to expectations and very unfair to expect excellence without providing the resources in their budgets to achieve that. That's been the single area I've spent the most time on the past two years: trying to shore that up. The men's basketball budget has increased significantly, so has football, but then again so have the other sports on a percentage basis.
Obviously in raw dollars, football and men's basketball get the lion's share of that. When your budget is next to nothing, it doesn't take a lot. You can double it and make a difference.
I have a tremendous senior staff. When we interview someone, it's contagious. When you interview with us, there's no way you walk out and not say, ‘They're going to do something special there.'
So you rely on a collective effort when making hires, maybe moreso than just your own thoughts. I have very strong opinions after the interview process, but I temper those until I hear from the rest of the committee. I pick the committee carefully because I want people whose judgments I trust and respect. And that, of course, goes back to hiring as well, hiring Sherard Clinkscales, hiring Michael Lipitz, hiring Carrie Doyle as head of compliance. We've developed a fairly extraordinary group.
My reputation is that if you work for me, you'll be an AD one day. I actually enjoy that. They need support and when their time comes I will be there for them. I just don't want it to be any time soon. Chris Kingston is going to be an AD one day. Michael Lipitz is going to be an AD one day. Sherard Clinkscales is going to be an AD one day. It's just a matter of time. In the meantime, they're learning their craft, right here. So they get loads of opportunities to run with projects and ideas.
We really do enjoy pretty candid feedback. It's just who we are. It's hard to insult me. It's going to have to be pretty direct for me to pay attention to it or even notice. I don't mind the disagreement in private. Once we pick a departmental perspective, then I would have an issue if someone went outside the scope of that at that time, but we're so similar in our philosophical approach.
With every hire, we start by going to the top 25 poll for that sport. We look for schools that don't belong. The most recent hire was in softball. Generally speaking, Boston University has done a great job as of late under the leadership of Shaw Rychcik. We said, ‘who is coaching there that can achieve what they're achieving at a place called Boston University?' We looked at his roster; saw players from California and all across the country. We Google, of course, and we look at all the articles about them.
I have a premise on hiring. A people hire A people and B people hire C people. Almost always. If you're a B person, you don't want to be threatened. If you're an A person, you're at the top of your game and you want to be surrounded by other As so you can bounce ideas off them. That's what we're trying to do here.
How is the "Our State" campaign going?
We're having fun with the campaign. Our fans have certainly seemed to enjoy it. The feedback we're getting, through Wolfpack Unlimited, is that they're enjoying it. One of the staff went over to the website of another school and it seems like they're not enjoying it that much. But it's fun. We have a right to have a campaign and we're trying to sell tickets. That's what that's all about. Raising the profile of our athletic program and the timing seemed to be right to take that next step.
Is there an update on the indoor practice facility?
We're going to enter into a university-wide campaign in 2013 and it's a seven-year campaign. During that period of time, two things will happen. There will be a renovation of Reynolds Coliseum that will include the Walk of Fame and History - it's going to be beautiful - and there will be an indoor practice facility built. I can't pin it down at this juncture.
Part of that depends, to be candid with you, on when we find major gifts. If someone stepped forward and said to WPC staff I'd like to give you a $5 million gift toward a $12 million indoor practice facility, that would change the timing. The main thing is that the campus has already approved the two projects. Why that matters is that there is a debt cap on what the university can borrow and maintain our bond ratings, so everybody on campus needed to come forward with their suggested projects.
We went forward with those two and they were approved. That doesn't prohibit us from doing smaller projects - we've been doing those all along. The inside of the Dail basketball practice facility, the tennis project, the new soccer practice fields, some work at baseball... Those things will continue.
What is your plan for retaining coaches with the expected increase in success?
The five we've hired have been to multi-year contracts. Within the contract there is a clear buyout clause and it is even and equal on both sides. If a coach wanted to separate from us without cause, meaning they got a better deal somewhere else or for whatever reason they wanted to leave, they'll owe us the remainder of their salary. If we wanted to separate without cause (without cause does include not winning, it sounds odd that you would have to pay someone for not winning, but you do), we would have to pay any of the salary that was left. So it's equal on both sides. Coaches don't sign those contracts lightly when it's multi-year and there's a buyout.
The second thing we do, or we should be doing, is negotiate new deals. That's the first warning bell, if you're in year four of a five-year contract and a coach doesn't want to re-up, the question is why not. We shouldn't be surprised. You have an opportunity to remediate those situations.
What are the plans for future football OOC scheduling with the expansion of the ACC?
I'd like to get away from playing any I-AAs. I've been here two years and have yet to schedule a single football game because of how far out football scheduling is typically occurring - not just here but everywhere. When we have that opportunity, we'd like to stay with Division I programs. I think the challenge with that for us is are you ready to only have six home games instead of seven. If you're going to go division I, generally we're going to have to return the game or at best have two games here and one there. It's a little messy but it's worth it.
In a season where everybody in the Atlantic Division has five homes game and the next year everybody in the Atlantic Division has four. That's done by design so we all have an equal number of home games.