VOL. 12, NO. 65

California State University, Long Beach January 31, 2006

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. News  

Bill McGillis

First AD candidate discusses academics, athletics

By Joseph Serna
Online Forty-Niner
Assistant City Editor

The Committee of Athletics met with the first of the three candidates for athletic director to discuss the potential and future of athletics at Cal State Long Beach, Monday.

“I think I’m pretty well prepared for a situation like this,” said Bill McGillis, the current athletic director at the University of Evansville, Indiana and the first candidate to be interviewed. “Long Beach can win, and win big.”

He is the first of three candidates visiting campus to succeed interim director, Cindy Masner.

McGillis initially gave the committee and others a brief rundown of his athletic administration experience.

He said he is no stranger to Long Beach. He was formerly the general manager of the Long Beach Stingrays, a women’s basketball team in the American Basketball League.

Past experience has also come from serving as the director of athletics at Evansville since 2002. Prior to that he worked as the senior associate athletic director at the University of New Mexico. Other college level experience came from his time at the University of Houston where he was assistant, associate and senior associate athletic director throughout a 14-year period, ending in 1998.

The committee was concerned about the integration of academics with athletics, citing a trend of freshmen athletes required to take remedial courses in their first year just to be at a college level.

McGillis hinted at the possibility of meeting with each department on campus, similar to what he did at Evansville.

“I don’t think it was that hard, I went in ready to tell the truth so it wasn’t difficult,” McGillis said.

He seemed to impress the committee when he retold stories of increasing student attendance at sporting events, such as manufacturing buzz for a game.

The school got students to camp out in front of the ticket counter of their arena the night before for free tickets, giving the impression that whatever the event was, it was worth waiting for.

McGillis and his staff also started new traditions for students, such as having the entire student section greet basketball players on the floor when they were introduced.

He said the key to finding creative ways to increase attendance is to work with students.

A second major concern for the committee was enhancing the academic support for athletes, considering limited resources.

“We’re not UCLA, we’re not USC, we’re not rolling in dough,” said Brenda Vogel, a professor of criminal justice and chairwoman on the committee.

At his present school he tried to meet with as many freshmen and incoming athletes one-on-one as he could, explaining to them their possibilities and what is expected of them.

Timothy Plax, a communications professor, mentioned that some athletes have arrived at CSULB unable to read, or do basic math functions.

“Part of that is admissions, we serve the common man’s kid,” Vogel said. The university is meant to be a community school she explained, so the standards are slightly skewed.

McGillis said encouraging the academic help is important.

He outlined his current department’s five guiding principles, which starts with enabling the best student athlete experience possible.

He then demands the department acts with a high degree of integrity, be competitively successful, generate resources to find and support, and lastly to make sure the athletic program integrates into mainstream university life.

Trying to avoid the redundant questions about men’s basketball or funding issues, the committee and McGillis discussed the relationship between faculty and athletics.

“We have no meaningful understanding of what athletics is,” Plax said.

McGillis floated the idea of a social event with faculty and staff, possibly a three-on-three basketball tournament, a method proved successful in Evansville.

The second and third potential athletic directors will arrive on campus Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.



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