As the European basketball season wound down last year, Harold Swanagan realized he had a decision to make: continue a playing career overseas or get started on his goal of a position in sports administration. He decided on the latter, and earlier this week took his first steps towards that new career when he was named Coordinator of Student Welfare and Development at the University of Notre Dame.
In the summer of 2004, Swanagan returned from Autun, a city in central France where he'd spent a year playing professional basketball, and decided to redirect his on-court energies to pursuing an administrative role in college athletics. His first stop was an educational internship with Fighting Irish basketball strength coach Tony Rolinski, where Swanagan began to learn the basics of overseeing a group of athletes.
"Working with Coach Rolinski," Swanagan said, "gave me a whole new insight on how people develop. I learned how to structure my time and be organized. Being around him and seeing how he works with student athletes taught me a great work ethic." M.O<
In his new position, Swanagan will be working with players "from fencing to football", all through the spectrum of Irish teams. Like former Notre Dame basketball coach Johnny Dee did with his Operation Reach-Up, Swanagan's goal is to get Irish athletes into the community to work with young people of all sizes, colors and abilities, with the hope that both the community and the players will learn from the experience.
"Most of what we'll do will be outreach," he said. "We want to get the players out into the neighborhoods and working with the underprivileged kids. But we're also setting up things with places like Logan Center and Memorial Hospital's oncology department. I want to get the players out into the community and let them work with the people and learn about them. I also want to show the community that the players are people as well as athletes."
As he prepares for his new responsibilities, Swanagan still enjoys a strong support network in the Irish basketball program, particularly with his former teammate (and now roommate), assistant coach Martin Ingelsby. "I've been around the program a lot," Swanagan chuckled, "and Martin is always helping me out. Coach Brey has also – they've both been helping me prepare for something like this."
Development and Welfare at ND is not likely to be the last stop for Swanagan, though, who hopes to eventually ascend into an Athletic Director position at a major university. If he brings half the intensity and effort off the court that he brought on it, there's no doubt that goal will be reached in short order.