AD candidate discusses academics, athletics
By Joseph Serna
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
“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,
McGillis initially gave the committee and others a brief rundown of his athletic
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
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
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
He said the key to finding creative ways to increase attendance is to work
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
“We have no meaningful understanding of what athletics is,” Plax
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.