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BCI Debates: What Should the New Athletic Director’s First Big Project Be?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 26 Clemson at Boston College Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Laura: At some point this summer we will presumably have a new athletic director. What do you think their first big project/decision should be? To recap, Pat Kraft’s big moments during his short tenure were hiring Earl Grant, the New Balance deal, and the basketball facilities finally getting started.

Joe: This is a tough one. Most of the big long overdue facilities needs are either done or on the way. And we’re generally happy with our major sport coaches? Though keeping an eye on WBB. At least evaluating what’s going on with baseball should probably be an early priority.

Laura: Yea the women’s basketball situation is very baffling and concerning, which is a bummer because Coach Mac has seemed like such a good hire until the great departure started before the Columbia game.

Laura: I feel like overhauling the gameday food vendors would be a good project. The options at Conte are pretty mediocre in my opinion lol.

Joe: I think the issue of the future of Alumni and Conte generally is probably the right answer. Both facilities are fine, but could use more facelifts and modernization. Realistically BC is probably not building a new basketball or hockey competition venue so it’s incumbent on them to make the absolute most out of Conte.

Laura: Yea, we have to keep finding ways to make our facilities something recruits will be impressed by. Especially in basketball where we’re competing with schools that win games and get lots of fans

Arthur: I think the question about when it’s time to replace Conte kind of takes a turn when you realize there isn’t a great place for it. I think renovating Conte would be my first priority. They’ve admittedly done a lot to keep up with the times, and let’s be honest amongst arenas from that age of architecture there are buildings that have aged worse, but I’d like them to try and do a more holistic renovation rather than spot projects here and there.

Laura: They should definitely do upkeep like fixing the seat Joe has for men’s hockey that has been broken since pre-COVID haha

Laura: I would ask what people think is the best big decision/project of the past few years, but I don’t think it can be argued that it’s anything but the basketball facilities.

Grant: Navigating the NIL landscape is going to be important as it seems to be evolving. The fact that other schools were trying to get Zay Flowers to transfer out by dangling NIL money in front of him was concerning but part of the world we live in. I’d like to see BC do something that Joe mentioned to me this weekend — set up some kind of way for the average fan/booster to “sponsor” current BC athletes to help sweeten their NIL pot here on the Heights.

Joe: Wisconsin has a portal like that and it feels like the future.

Curtis: Yes, that seems like a great way to keep up with the NIL landscape, but it can also serve as a good way to get the students and fans more engaged. I can imagine something like BC’s Theatre department or a dance group pooling together to get a star athlete to promote an upcoming show, or something along those lines. Everybody wins.

Arthur: First of all, shoutout to Zay for rejecting all of that to stay at BC. Absolutely nothing but love for that man, who really ought to be in the conversation about getting his jersey retired at some point assuming he has the NFL career we all expect him to (even if he doesn’t).
NIL is important, and it feels like there is a tremendous ability to do something with that given BC’s proximity to such a large market, so tapping into that wealth of opportunity seems important. BC’s never going to be able to market nationally (it just won’t) but there’s absolutely no reason Phil Jurkovec to not be in the lobby of every single Dunkin’ in Massachusetts.
That probably goes back to apparel too- I know that New Balance was a big deal for Pat Kraft to take care of. Whatever your opinions of that deal, BC is now one of the higher marquee schools that has New Balance as their apparel supplier. BC would be fools to not try and use that to its advantage by giving its athletes that NIL opportunity.
As to Conte, since I brought it up (oops), I don’t know what BC’s limitations are with the space architecturally speaking since Alumni and Conte are so intertwined. I would love to see some investment in concessions to make those more robust. It seems as though there hasn’t been a lot of change there in a while, and that seems like an easy thing to do.

Joe: I’d love to know what kinds of changes folks want to see in Conte. I laid out some ideas a few years back and I think they mostly hold up.

Arthur: Yeah, all of those to be honest would be great. Tarping in particular sounds like a decent idea. If done well, it could really help the experience (Joe, Grant and i found that out this past weekend).

Laura: I just want good non-meat stadium food options other than just some potato wedges or a gross pizza!

Maithri: Impossible burger please!

Niraj: I also really love the NIL pool idea. That in general is definitely critical for the new AD to tackle and have a great grasp of. Also yes to better food.

Joe: Yes concessions are an evergreen issue, along with just general work to overhaul Conte. I think reducing capacity, creating premium/group experiences, etc. are overdue steps that would dovetail nicely with the excellent practice facility investments.
In terms of absolute facility needs - BC has done so much on this front, which is commendable, so there’s not a lot that’s burning. I do think securing a practice home for men’s and women’s hockey is pretty important. They can get by without it now that basketball will have its own practice facility, but Conte will still have its schedule congestion issues.
It’s also not absolutely critical, but maybe making a decision on how to handle women’s lacrosse moving forward — whether the games should be at Alumni or on Newton, and perhaps whether they should sell tickets... it could probably be a good revenue opportunity, honestly, though I know BC has been hesitant to expand the number of sports it has to handle ticketing for.

Arthur: Looking at what Villanova did with Finneran Pavilion is a good blueprint. The Pavilion definitely had worse bones than Conte and Villanova has made it a halfway decent venue with clubs and some premium experiences. No reason why Conte can’t get the same treatment.
Women’s lax is in a weird space where it probably outgrew Newton for at least league games but Alumni is too big. But also, that might be something that renovations could fix.

What do you think the new AD should target for their first big decision? Sound off in the comments!