October 26, 2011
This morning I met with a group of graduate students who I believe are some of the brightest young professionals in the United States in the area of Sport Administration & Management. With the quality of our program, I have no doubt that all of these students will go on to successful careers as administrators in NCAA athletic departments. They are a rare group because in their second year they have the opportunity to work as a full-time intern in our UNC athletic department. This particular group had individuals that worked in the following areas in the athletic department: compliance, event operations, fundraising (Ram’s Club), and marketing. In my mind, this makes them a group with a unique perspective that can be very valuable to non-revenue coaches. This is why I posed the following question to them:
“Based on your internship (and experiences), what tips would you give non-revenue, Olympic coaches looking to improve their standing in athletic departments?
While the content of the responses varied based on the area, there were certainly trends that overlapped across all of the departments. Rather than break them down, I will provide you with the top tips that emerged from the discussion.
1. Compliance: Coaches who turn in paperwork on time, who are honest with their issues and problems, are willing to work with us are looked upon more favorably. And other coaches and employees are aware of which coaches are cooperative or difficult, and it does affect how people will treat and view these coaches.
2. Fundraising: Learn to accept/embrace the infrastructure within the athletic department. There are coaches who are unable to do this and it often hurts their reputation within the athletic department. Once you know this infrastructure, focus on building relationships with individuals in the athletic department and surrounding community so you can enhance your fundraising efforts.
3. Marketing: Focus heavily on building relationships in your marketing efforts. When using social network sites, find ways to deliver your messages (products) in a unique way that will engage fans. Most importantly, find small ways to go above and beyond for your fans so you can build loyalty.
4. Operations: Deal with people in the athletic department with civility and courtesy. The coaches that do this on a regular basis have individuals in the athletic department who will go out of their way to provide support to their program. The coaches who do not do this can attract a negative view of their program.
As you can see, there are a few key themes that emerge for coaches who are looking to improve their standing in coinciding athletic departments. First, it is important to strive to build relationships no matter who you are dealing with. When you do this, you are far more likely to have support from different employees throughout the department. In addition to building your brand, it also helps to enhance your efficiency because people are far more willing to work for you. Second, strive to go above and beyond and all your interactions. The top programs do this on a regular basis and athletic department personnel take notice of this. These are great tips for any coach looking to improve the support they receive from their department.
Special thanks to the UNC Sport Administration 2012 class that contributed to this entry. One of the sharpest graduate classes in the United States 😉