This time of year, without fail, produces the following conversation for those of us who work in intercollegiate athletics – Booster or fan: Boy, I’ll bet work is quiet for you right now. AD or other athletics employee: (with knowing smile and nod) Yep, sure is!
Just as spring practice is among the most important and enjoyable times of the yearly athletics-academic cycle, so too, is the spring and early summer for administrators and support staff. While we’re busy working on season ticket sales and booster events, we know that work accomplished at this “quiet” time of the year lays the foundation for everything to follow. This is a special time of the year.
We are also entering a special time in the history of college athletics and the Championship Subdivision, in which we may see seismic changes in the college sports landscape. As we brace for what is to come, we embrace what we are – a group of schools committed to educating and graduating student-athletes who have enjoyed the opportunity to compete at a very high level.
This is also a time of year which breeds optimism. Student-athletes coming off of spring drills work hard in the weight room and in conditioning, while wrapping up a semester’s academic obligations. August looms on the horizon, far enough off to enjoy the summer ahead but close enough that the excitement for a new season builds each day.
When the phrase APR, or Academic Progress Rate, entered our lexicon nearly a decade ago, it brought tremendous uncertainty and considerable trepidation among FCS members. Today, we understand it and embrace the system, which has become accepted nearly universally as a representative measuring stick of how college athletics programs fulfill their primary mission of educating and graduating student-athletes.
As a sign of that progress, the FCS Athletics Directors Association, through NACDA, will present awards to institutions from each FCS conference for the highest four-year average APR, and for institutions with the greatest single-year improvement. These 28 annual award winners will have a tangible sign of success in this important area.
This June’s NACDA Convention will also see a pair of impressive and deserving college football players (Josh Cain, Jacksonville State and Andrew Miller, North Dakota) from our subdivision honored for their achievements on and off the football field. These young men are a credit to all we stand for, and presenting these awards is something that should bring us all a great sense of pride.
As I conclude my year as president of this association, I’ve come to appreciate the outstanding people that we all get to work with year-round. Chief among those are the officers of this group – Greg Burke, Marilyn McNeil, Ron Strollo and past president Tim Van Alstine – and the FCS staffers at NACDA -- Pat Manak and Jason Galaska -- and longtime Red Zone editor Andy Solomon. These professionals exemplify the hard-working and proficient nature of so many at our level. They have made the past year enjoyable for me, and give me tremendous optimism for whatever the future may bring our way.
Have a great summer, good luck to all in the upcoming year. I look forward to seeing everyone at this summer’s Convention.
President, FCS ADA &
Director of Athletics
Montana State University