As the 2010-11 year winds down, so does my term as the FCS ADA President. In writing this last column for The Red Zone, I would like to reflect on what has been a most enjoyable and fulfilling year.
I first and foremost would like to stress that it has been an honor and a privilege to serve in the capacity of FCS ADA President. There are so many talented and dedicated administrators within the FCS subdivision that I feel blessed to have been afforded this opportunity and have taken very seriously the obligation to carry out the responsibilities of that office in the best manner possible.
Over 20 years of working on a daily basis for FCS (and formerly I-AA) subdivision programs had already helped me develop a pretty good appreciation for the teams and personnel within the subdivision. Over the course of the past year, however, my level of passion for the "FCS" label has grown immensely. We are at a critical crossroads as it relates to enhancing the brand, viability and sustainability of our subdivision. A good old-fashioned "group effort" will be needed to take what already is a very solid group of football programs and raise their profile to another level. I stand ready to continue doing what I can to help incoming President Marilyn McNeil in any way possible. I want to stay involved.
Several positive moments come to mind as I reminisce about the past year. The City of Frisco (Texas) and The Southland Conference definitely put their best foot forward in Year One of hosting the FCS National Championship game. As I mentioned in a previous column, the student-athlete experience was uppermost in the minds of the game's organizers and they are to be commended for making that area a focal point of their planning. In conjunction with the game was the FCS Summit, the first time that an event of this nature had been held in a good while. Attendance was excellent and I think the summit left attendees satisfied with the first step and eager to become more involved in enhancing the FCS organization. Again, kudos are extended to Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett and his staff for embracing both the game and the summit with meticulous and passionate effort.
I would remiss if I were not to mention the chance, on two different occasions, to spend time with new NCAA President, Dr. Mark Emmert. Dr. Emmert was keynote speaker at the FCS Summit luncheon and then attended the NACDA Mid-Winter Meetings. I am impressed with Dr. Emmert's ability to be so attentive to so many different facets and factions within the NCAA structure. In addition, the student-athlete experience is paramount in his thinking and that means a lot to me, as I know it does to everyone who works on a daily basis in college athletics. Also, and this is one of the best parts of working in college athletics, I enjoyed the chance over the past year to strengthen already existing relationships and at the same time, to meet and make new acquaintances. There are so many good people in our industry!
Finally, I cannot adequately thank Jason Galaska and Pat Manak at the NACDA office for their guidance, support, friendship and, yes, time spent commiserating about our seemingly always struggling Cleveland sports teams. Seriously, I have a strong appreciation for what Jason and Pat, along with the entire NACDA staff, do for the betterment of the college athletics. Thanks, Pat and Jason, more than I can express!
Again, I am grateful for the opportunity I was afforded over the past year and look forward to seeing everyone at the NACDA Convention in Orlando in June!
Director of Athletics, Northwestern State University
President, FCS ADA