Boston College Athletics is at a crossroads, a point where they need to decide what they are, what they value, and what they strive to be moving forward. Brad Bates is leaving in June, and with him goes four plus years of sub-par athletics and a fanbase clamoring for some changes. BC is going to use a search committee again to find their next AD, which could be good if they find someone that is outside the box, or it could be a giant waste of money if they stay with a safe BC-connected pick like a Jim Paquette or Ed McLaughlin (no offense to either of these men).
Whomever takes over for Bates is going to have his/her hands full when they get to Chestnut Hill. As we all know the basketball and football team are still no where near where they need to be, and facilities and fan interest are all a giant mess. What are some of the biggest challenges they will face? Let’s take a look (for the most part I’m going to just target the revenue sports, and leave hockey out, they are their own animal).
1. Make The Hard Decisions Involving Coaching: There are at least three coaches right now that the AD is going to need to take a look at and decide if they match their vision for the future of the program. Of course that would be Steve Addazio, Jim Christian and women’s basketball coach Erik Johnson. All three have led programs that are not up to par. Yes Addazio has led BC to three bowl games in four years, but if the school’s goal is to compete for ACC Championships, does the new AD believe Addazio will be the person to get them there? Same goes with Christian. The emergence of Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman has been nice, but 2 ACC wins in two years is not acceptable no matter how much the roster turns over. The women’s basketball team is equally a mess. I know buyouts are expensive, but if this new AD wants to make a splash, he may really need to analyze these three coaches and decide on their futures.
2. Fix Fundraising: Now I don’t have any numbers to give here, but I feel that I am pretty in tune with the BC community, and I know quite a few alumni who have stopped donating to the Flynn Fund because of the state of BC Athletics. The new AD needs to fix this for a few reasons. One, if BC wants to do some renovations, builds, they are going to need the money (I’ll get to this later), and they need to do a better job systematically to reach out to alumni. Do more events to bring alumni together that doubles as a fundraising event (see: Christmas At Fenway For Young Alumni). More than that they need to do more than just have athletes awkwardly cold call you at dinner time. Maybe work backwards, come up with an idea, say closing the corners at Alumni, get a price for the work, and then fundraise from there. I’m telling you if a new AD had people calling me to donate for a specific project (which they are doing for the IPC) I and many other alumni would be much more willing to donate.
3. Advocate For The Students, And Get Results: Eric touched on this earlier with his post on Ron Borges, but one of the simple things BC could change is how athletes are treated by the school. If coaches are demanding that they get up at the crack of dawn to lift or workout, then they should have housing that allows them to easily get to the facilities. Currently that is hit or miss, depending on what program you play for. Also I’ve talked to former athletes who let me know that tutoring while they are on the road is either non-existent or at a bare minimum. For a school that lauds itself on it’s academic programs, this needs to change. I know this is more of a systematic issue, but the AD needs to be the advocate for the well being of the student athletes, because these types of problems hurts not only our current students, but recruiting as well, as kids hear about this stuff on visits and from friends/teammates.
4. Facilities: This is like beating a dead horse at this point, but we all know how lacking Boston College is compared to the rest of the ACC. The new baseball and softball stadium along with the new IPF will definitely bring BC up from the dumps, but there are still huge improvements that are needed to be made. Eric again brought up that BC basketball still does not have a dedicated practice area, and that the IPF won’t address that. How is that possible for an ACC school? That should be agenda item #1 for the new ADI don’t believe like some that BC needs to scrap Alumni Stadium and Conte need to be scrapped, but changes need to be made to help BC rise from the bottom of the ACC
5. Engage The Fanbase Again: This might be the most challenging because the simple answer would come from Al Davis who said “Just win”. Of course that is one way, and yes that would work, but there needs to be more of a systematic attempt to get the fans back. I’m not a marketer, but there has to be a way to get more people to Conte to watch the basketball team, and the new AD needs to find ways get back football fans who are leaving in droves. Maybe it’s promotions, maybe it’s game experience, maybe it’s making games (especially football) less of a hassle to enjoy and be part of the community. And also, for the love of everything holy get rid of donor based seating. Whatever it is, this is going to be a crucial part of the AD and his staff’s job. BC needs to build some excitement around the programs, engage fans about the present and future of the program and hopefully the AD will have a vision on how to approach that.
These are just a few of the many challenges the next AD has when he/she hits the Heights. I didn’t even get to issues with the non-revenue sports, handling and use of the media, etc. What do you think? Were there any challenges you would add to this list? Leave it in the comments below.