Extras From Interview With Brad Bates: Part Two

  • The Heights: What are your thoughts on the outside criticism of Frank Spaziani, and how much weight do those opinions carry?
  • Brad Bates: "The highest priority is student development, so we’ve got to focus on how we’re doing that within any program, but the next priority is how we serve our fan base and our customers and our stakeholders and our alums. Our alums are the essence of any of our programs. They’re the ones [whose] standards to which we strive every day. When there’s high expectations, that’s awesome, because our alums set those high expectations when they were students here."
  • The Heights: What is your assessment of the resources you have available to you?
  • Bates: "I’m still kind of immersing myself in that and looking at matrices. Not every variable has the same weight and application. I’m still piecing together different variables that fit in to matrixes and assigning weight to them just to assess where we can gauge our human and financial resources with our program relative to our competitors and our peers."
  • The Heights: Can you expand on the matrices?
  • Bates: "Every school where I’ve been we’ve developed a matrix that we’ve used – and coaches have helped us develop it. So part of this is going forward, that’s something that’s got to be jointly developed. I’ve never met a coach that didn’t want to win every game. I’ve never met a coach that didn’t want to win and didn’t want to excel and didn’t want their program to win championships. I didn’t hire one coach that’s here, and so the conditions by which they were hired and the conditions by which they were evaluated and assessed was really under a different set of conditions, potentially, to what we will form and evolve as we work together."
  • The Heights: Do you have any ideas on improving facilities, short-term or long-term?
  • Bates: "One of the great things about this job is that Gene and the university and the administration has a facility plan – it’s a long term and short term facility plan. Part of it is maintenance and part of it is significant renovation. What I am in the midst of doing is trying to understand that plan and trying to understand my role in it, because it’s not always all going to be institutional resources a lot of it will be private. So I’m plugging in strategically how we will raise that money and elevate our facilities, or for a better term, athletic classrooms."
  • The Heights: What do you think are some things you can do regarding the idea for a new baseball and softball stadium on Brighton campus, and what can you do to push that in the right direction?
  • Bates: "We’ve got to remember that we’re in a neighborhood and we have neighbors and we have to coincide in ways that are mutually beneficially. And so there’s a sequence of events that has to take place. The university if very much aware of that sequence and they’re striving to expedite that sequence. They realize the value to our baseball, softball, and intramural sports in having that new facility and, you know, I will probably be part of that conversation and trying to develop future strategies to expedite it but I know the university is very, very much focused on making that process happen quickly. But again, we’ve got to work with our neighbors.
  • The Heights: What are your thoughts on how you can connect the students that are not student-athletes to the athletic department?
  • Bates: "A variety of things go into the student experience and students coming to events, and it’s not just athletics. We can’t sit over here in the athletic department and just expect students to show up to our events. It’s got to be a reciprocal relationship, right? So when there are student theater productions, are our student-athletes attending those events and supporting their classmates? When there are concerts on campus, are our student-athletes supporting the activities of other student groups? So that’s got to be a reciprocal relationship. In terms of studying the student attendance patterns over time, I haven’t looked at that yet. You know, I’ve been here two weeks. I’ve been to eight to 10 athletic events in a variety of sports. Have I looked at if our student attendance patterns are consistent with where they were when we were competing for the ACC Championship game? I haven’t gotten a chance to look at that. As I study that and look at it, we’ve got to look at how we entertain our students. We’ve got to look at what our win-loss record is, because part of this is winning and losing. We’ve got to look at how we’re promoting the events and communicating it to our students and how we’re connecting our student-athletes to the student population. Here’s an interesting statistic—one out of every 12 undergraduate students at Boston College is a student-athlete. That’s a very significant percentage of our population, and so our student-athlete body can have a really positive impact on the rest of campus on the issues that are important to other student organizations and groups in the same way that the other student organizations and groups can have a significant impact on our games. I see this as a culture and a family and the more that we develop relationships with one another and be fully integrated, the more we’re likely to support one another, even beyond just the winning and losing."
  • The Heights: How do you feel about the total number of teams competing at BC right now?
  • Bates: "This is a very preliminary response, but I very much believe in the ideology of a holistic, educational experience for students, and when you have a lot of sports that provides that many more opportunities. The other advantage of this particular position is that it also oversees the Rec Plex and the intramural and club sports. So when you take that number that one out of every 12 undergraduate students is an athlete, and then you add the number of students who are involved in intramural and club sports in the Rec Plex, you’ve got an incredible responsibility to a very large percentage of students on this campus, and that’s one I take very seriously and I feel an enormous responsibility and obligation to make sure that we add to the quality of the experience."
  • The Heights: What are your thoughts with competing but working with the professional sports teams in Boston?
  • Bates: "They’re an incredible resource and the ownership and leadership at all of the professional organizations have really close ties to Boston College. So partnering with them in mutually beneficial ways that serve the entire community, I think, is one of the great opportunities of this position. The fact that we have these celebrity athletes in this community is a huge asset, but even beyond that in terms of competitiveness, surely, we have to better in customer service. We have to be as good as anyone, because that’s who we compete, but with the demographic of Boston—there are plenty of people in the community who we can regularly attract to our events and we’ve got to creative in how we do that and do it consistently. And when they come here we’ve got to deliver on the promise. They’ve got to have a great experience so they come back."

Extras From Interview With Brad Bates: Part One

  • The Heights: Did you have any expectations coming in or a to-do list of top things you needed to address?
  • Brad Bates: "I really have a hundred-day plan, and there were definitely key stakeholders that I wanted to meet and talk to and get in front of. Some, because of proximity don’t live near enough so I had conversation with them. There were certain areas that I really needed to study. I needed to get a handle on the budget and I need to focus on where we are academically with our students. There’s been staff that have really brought me up to speed on that and tutored me in that regard."
  • The Heights: Was any of the groundwork with scheduling football games with Ohio State laid before you got here?
  • Bates: "Yeah, I can't take credit for that. That was signed before I came here. It was just something that Ohio State and Boston College decided to go public with, coincidentally after I was named [AD]."
  • The Heights: That's a big recruiting state...
  • Bates: "We’re excited. We are going to be very strategic in how we schedule football games that generate a lot of enthusiasm for our fans and help our coaches recruit to the program because players want to play against the best teams. Also, it’s going to position us nationally so we get a lot of attention and it’s going to help our competitive success, so we’re going to be very deliberate in the way that we schedule games."
  • The Heights: Any update on who you'll schedule for the 12th football game next year?
  • Bates: "No, I was hoping we’d have it sometime in the next week and a half or so, and I’m cautiously optimistic that we can still do that. We were really thrown a curveball with the vote, and there are not a lot of teams out there that are looking for games. So we’ve been in discussions with about a half dozen schools and we’re really looking for what best serves Boston College and our program next year."
  • The Heights: What factors do you consider when scheduling out of conference opponents?
  • Bates: "There are a variety of factors. It goes into your personnel and what your team is going to be. Typically when you really want the national stage is when you’re going to have a lot of experience on your team, whereas when you’re young and you’re developing that youth, you’re probably going to schedule a little more lightly. You’re going to look at other teams and their personnel and their recruiting and deciding whether they’re veteran teams and other factors like that. We’re going to look at years when we think we can compete for national championships and ACC championships and you want to schedule the right teams so you can be in the mix in terms of the rankings. You always want to try to pair up with television opportunities, like this weekend [against Notre Dame]. The problem is that you can’t always predict how good teams are going to be. We have no idea where Ohio State is going to be in the year we’re going to play them down the road, so there’s got to be continuity to what you try and do and we feel like we’ve got a pretty good philosophy in how we approach it."
  • The Heights: Do you feel like you need to wait a certain amount of time between gaining knowledge and making decisions?
  • Bates: "The quick answer is that decisions have to be made right away. There are certain things that require immediate attention and there were decisions that I had to make on my first day on the job here. But then there are other decisions that are not time-sensitive. One of the things we want to do in the coming years is develop a strategic plan. We want to define where we are, where we want to go, and how we want to get there and that’s going to be a pretty significant process. That’s going to involve a lot of internal and external constituents. Any decision you make, you want to be as informed as possible. You want to gather as much data and information as you possibly can. That, ultimately, will lead to better decisions, but sometimes the timing doesn’t allow you to gather as much data. The quick answer to your question is that decisions are being made every day, and they’re being made on the timelines which best serve our department."
  • The Heights: Did you ever have any coaches face adversity or tough seasons at Miami?
  • Bates: "With any program, whenever you go through adversity, what people tend to forget is the coaches—the first thing they’re going to do is they’re going to look in the mirror and asses themselves before they start assessing a strategy to deal with the adversity. Coaches are very self-critical and very analytical and they’re going to look at ways that they can improve the situation. No one wants to lose, and so in dealing with programs that have struggled the two things you’ve got to look at is how can we support the program? How can we provide resources? How can we provide creative initiatives that help that program, whether it’s short term or long term, to achieve their vision of excellence? And then the second part of it is you’ve just got to make sure that you’re a soundboard, that you’re giving observations and feedback, and that you as an athletic director can provide feedback that hopefully help the program in some capacity."
  • The Heights: A lot of people thought expectations were being lowered by the last administration when certain teams were struggling. In terms of football, do you think we have to quell expecations?
  • Bates: "Why would you ever squash expectations? We want high expectations. That’s our mantra, ‘Ever to Excel.’ Are we always going to go undefeated every single season? No, but that shouldn’t diminish what our goals are and what our vision is for any of our programs. I also want to tie this in to student development. I honestly believe that there is only one way that you can justify athletics in higher education and that is to ensure that it is inherently educational, and part of that is competitive success. There are very few opportunities that people have in our society or in the academic curriculum where they can come together as a group, strive toward a shared vision of excellence, literally face daily scrutiny and adversity, learn to cooperate within this intensely competitive environment, and unless they achieve at least part of that vision of excellence then they’re never going to fully realize their maximum development. I really believe that winning and competitive success is grounded in student development. When you win a championship, you acquire a set of skills that will serve you in any future endeavors you engage the rest of your life. And so competitive success to me is part of our athletic curriculum and maximizing the development of our students."