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7th BOSCA Workshop - October 15-16 2018- Oklahoma City

A RESOURCE FOR SMALL COLLEGE ATHLETIC ADMINISTRATORS

Small College Athletic Administrators are a group of hard-working professionals that are committed to providing opportunities for student-athletes to succeed.  This site is dedicated to telling the Small College story, sharing insight from Small College pro's and working to make our profession better and stronger. 

Join us for the annual Business of Small College Athletics workshop held each Fall in Oklahoma City.  The workshop provides opportunities to learn from leaders in Small College Athletics, exchange ideas with other Small College administrators and grow your professional network to develop relationships that you can rely on for years to come.  Join Us!!

By Jim Abbott 01 Nov, 2016

I have been the business of college athletics for over 20 years and have had the privilege of interacting with many outstanding “game changers” in the sports industry. Several of these people are leaders in small college athletics. The Business of Small College Athletics (BOSCA) workshop is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in having first-hand contact and networking opportunities with small college “game changers”. This is a must-attend event that is affordable, impactful, and highly engaging.  I highly recommend it to anyone in small college athletics.


Paul Plinske, Ph.D.

Athletic Director - University of Nebraska - Kearney

By Jim Abbott 01 Nov, 2016

The Business of Small College Athletics provides an outstanding opportunity for administrators within the intercollegiate athletic profession to maximize their potential in order to best serve their institution. This seminar series features excellent speakers who present a wide array of topics that are relevant and cutting edge. The personable atmosphere of the BOSCA workshop is 2nd to none and enables all attendees to network with some of the finest athletic administrators in the intercollegiate athletic profession.


William Weidner

Athletic Director - University of the Southwest

By Jim Abbott 01 Nov, 2016
The beauty and value of attending BOSCA is that it is ‘right-sized’ for every institution.  There are finite resources and opportunities on all of our campuses, but there is no ceiling on learning, sharing, and implementing innovative best practices. BOSCA does this in an efficient and open format that fosters immediate takeaways and results.

Tim McMurray
Athletic Director - Texas A&M University - Commerce

By Bob Peterson 01 Nov, 2016
I have attended the BOSCA workshop twice now. It is the most innovative and invaluable conference that small school administrators can attend. You are able to network with current and future industry leaders in a small setting and learn numerous ways on how to increase revenue at your institution.  Attending BOSCA is a must for those in our field.

Brian Sisson
Assoc. A.D. - External Relations - Lewis University
By Bob Peterson 06 Jul, 2016
"I have been involved in athletics for some 16 years but this is the first conference I have seen that really deals with practical Fund Raising techniques and ideas. This conference is good for folks that have been working in athletics for a while and those who are just getting into the business. I look forward to attending again in the near future."

Joey Wiginton
Special Assistant to the President, Faulkner University
By Bob Peterson 06 Jul, 2016
"The BOSCA Workshop was an excellent experience full of worthwhile information and practical exercises for a small college athletics administrator like me... However, the most valuable take-home from the workshop are the new connections made with impressive professionals who can relate to the challenges small college administrators face every day."

Sam Ferguson
Athletic Director - McMurry University
By Bob Peterson 06 Jul, 2016
"The Business of Small College Athletics is the perfect conference for administrators who have small staff sizes, tight budgets and limited resources. I left the conference with awesome ideas for corporate sponsorships, increasing our program’s visibility, event planning, and leveraging campus assets to benefit athletics."

Carolyn Stone
Athletic Director – Palm Beach Atlantic University
By Bob Peterson 06 Jul, 2016
"I am so glad that I attended this workshop. It is very helpful to hear how others face the same problems that I face on an annual basis. There are some great minds and ideas out there and the time spent in Oklahoma City is going to pay for itself many times over. And our students will be the prime beneficiary. I plan on being a regular!"

Tom Simmons

Athletic Director - Ohio Northern University - NCAA Div. III
By Bob Peterson 06 Jul, 2016
"I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to participate in this year’s BOSCA workshop. So many of us working in smaller college athletic programs wear a multitude of hats, and the information gathered at this event is incredibly valuable. It was a great opportunity to meet and discuss pertinent issues in our industry with some of the top small college administrators in the nation, and I intend to be back next year!"

Paul Smith
Arkansas Tech University - NCAA Div. II
By Bob Peterson 30 Jun, 2016

“The Business of Small College Athletics workshop is cutting edge, practical, useful, and was an excellent investment of my time and resources. Professional development seminars and workshops can be a risk, but BOSCA is a worthwhile endeavor to improve one's craft while expanding your professional network. I highly recommend BOSCA!”

Tony Duckworth
Athletic Director, Northeastern State University

By Bob Peterson 30 Jun, 2016
"The Business of Small College Athletics workshop was a great learning and networking opportunity for me. It was filled with pertinent topics and directly actionable items from a small college perspective. I was able to learn from and network with other administrators from across the country...who I am still
 in touch with today!"

Katie Caliendo  
Dir. of Athletic Marketing, Menlo College

FEATURED CONTENT

By Interview by: Jim Abbott 04 Jan, 2018

Collected Wisdom is a series of interviews featuring insights from Small College athletic administrators around the country.  Thanks to  Drew Watson , Athletic Director at Southeastern University for agreeing to participate this week.

How did you get started in College Athletics?

As a student-athlete in college, I volunteered for the athletic department, lining fields for soccer and baseball along with other odd jobs. I ended up as the assistant men’s basketball coach, then a head women’s basketball coach, assistant athletics director, and finally the athletics director at that same school.  

You started your career at Southeastern as a Women’s Basketball coach. What led you into the Athletic Director’s position?

When I interviewed for the women’s basketball position at SEU, I was asked if I ever wanted to be an AD again, since that was the position I was coming from in Pennsylvania. I actually laughed and emphatically stated that I wanted to coach and never again return to the AD’s chair. A year later, the AD left and I was named interim and eventually to the full time position, and stepped away from coaching. God has a sense of humor, for sure.  

How do your experiences as a coach impact the decisions you make as the A.D.?

My experience as a coach impacts my decisions daily. Being on that side of things for 15 years gives me an appreciation for the challenges coaches face on a daily basis. As a result, I encourage them to dream big and keep asking, even when the initial answer is “no.” I also know firsthand how coaching can negatively affect a family and encourage them to make sacrifices to ensure that area of their life is healthy.

What was the one thing you were least prepared to do when you became an Athletic Director?

When I became an AD in 2007, I wasn’t prepared to help the athletic department realize its full potential because I insisted on continuing to coach. You couldn’t have convinced me of this at the time, but I now believe that coaching holds an AD back from investing all they can in their department. Perhaps most consequential is that there aren’t enough hours in the day to allow an AD/coach to fully engage in the relationships that are essential to meaningful success.    

What advice do you have for SID’s, Asst. A.D.’s that desire to someday become an Athletic Director?

Ask lots of questions, even about topics you think you already know the answers to. The information you receive will provide a reference point for you, even if you don’t particularly agree. Be willing to volunteer on committees and special projects then work hard to contribute to the group. Doing so will expose you to more ideas and broaden your perspective, which is essential to you as you develop as a leader.

The NAIA has been exploring creating one division for basketball and you have been a visible part of the committee that has worked on this question. What has that experience taught you?

The experience on the task force has reinforced in me the importance of listening.  Whether in support or opposition, people have very passionate views on this issue. One of the things about the process of which I am most proud, is that both the task force and the NAIA have provided an avenue for expression of those opinions, they have been considered, and it has led to genuine compromise.     

You are an active member of the NAIA Athletic Director’s Association. What are the priorities for this group?

I’m relatively new in my position on the ADA board, but in my short time there I’d say that the facilitation of communication between athletic administrators and the COP for the betterment of the NAIA has been a priority for the group.  

Can you remember a program/idea that you tried that just didn’t work?

When we started football I was convinced that the fan experience merited a $20 general admission ticket price. It seems obvious now but at the time I didn’t think about the fact that if the ticket price is too high, the fan experience won’t matter because no one will be there to see it. The process reminded me to recognize that the excitement of starting a new program can cause you to overvalue the product. As leaders we shouldn’t allow emotions like these to distort our view of reality and lead to unrealistic expectations.      

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love what I do so there are probably a number of answers to this question. The one that sticks out the most is that as an AD I get to hear the struggles coaches are going through in their season. Student-athletes that are challenging, discipline issues, budgetary speedbumps, and everything else that they go through. In essence, I get to see behind the curtain. The part I love is I then get to see the same coaches and teams who are facing challenges overcome those things and find success as a team. It’s never fails to inspire me.  

Who are some of your mentors/people that have encouraged you along the way?

Dr. Chris Owen, the executive vice president at SEU. From the very beginning of my time with the Fire, Chris has always challenged me to be a leader who is “real.” “Try, fail, learn” is one of his mottos and that philosophy has given me the margin to be creative while having the confidence to know that failure is the genesis of learning, not the end of the process (or my employment at Southeastern).         

Best career advice that you have received?

Learn a number of different systems and philosophies on how to lead. When you have a wide array of systems at hand, you will inevitably have one that fits the people on your team perfectly and, if effectively implemented, provide you the ability to maximize their potential for the benefit of both the team and the organization.

What advice do you have for young people that are looking to start a career in college athletics?

Be honest. Be humble. Be kind. Listen respectfully to those with differing opinions and be willing to respectfully explain yours. Be willing to admit mistakes. Don’t be outworked by anyone. Be willing to volunteer for camps, clinics, and service projects that you may not want to do because in doing so you will meet people. Do these things and your name will pop into someone’s head when they have an opening. Continue to do them and you will ensure you are perpetually employed.  

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Leading effectively at any level requires you to get to know what motivates each of the members on your team. What drives them? What is the most effective way to coach them? What are the issues in their past that affect their perception of leadership? Figuring those things out is by far the most challenging part of my job because the answers to these and other questions are different for each person. However, when I am intentional about investing time into finding the answers, then lead people accordingly, the results are remarkable.  

What are 1-2 qualities that you look for when hiring a head coach?

Tough to narrow this to two qualities but I would say people with a great work ethic and a high degree of integrity in their personal and professional lives are two vital traits I look for when hiring a coach.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

I have to remind myself daily that my identity shouldn’t be based on what I do professionally. It should be based on my faith and my family. When I keep this in mind it’s easier to shut the computer down and leave the office, preserving some level of balance in my life.   

You have attended the Business of Small College Athletics (BOSCA) workshop in the past. What would you tell someone who was considering attending this event?

The BOSCA workshop is a great opportunity for professional development in a setting that is more relaxed than many of the seminars and workshops out there which are connected with major conventions. The sessions were relevant to current issues and the relationships I cultivated there have been instrumental in my development as a professional.     

By Jim Abbott 30 Dec, 2017

One of the keys to a successful career in collegiate athletics is access to professional development. We work in an industry that sees us compete against other institutions on the playing fields and in recruiting. Despite our on-going efforts to beat the competition, the best part about working in collegiate athletics is the willingness that folks have to share ideas. Networking (growing the list of people that you know and can call on for advice and insight) and exchanging ideas(finding out the details of how others are doing things) are critical to your continued growth in this business and your ability to deliver the results that your department needs.

 I’m proud to announce that we are bringing #scachat back. #scachat is a weekly Twitter chat that I hosted with Paul Smith, Kirby Garry, and Ryan Ivey from 2014-17. The chat will be starting back up on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at 8pm CST. To join the chat merely plug the hashtag #scachat into the search box in Twitter and hop on in. The chat will last one hour and hopefully attract administrators from around the country to add insight, ask questions, and connect with one another.

 There are lots of opportunities for professional development in college athletics. I will detail these more at the end of this post. Most of these opportunities require a financial investment, time away from the office, and some luck in “bumping into” the right person. I have attended and benefited from hundreds of these events over my career.

 The great thing about the chat is that it is completely free of charge and you can participate from the comfort of your own living room or den. If you could regularly sit down and talk about issues that relate to your small college athletic department with other administrators from around the country, without having to leave your house…wouldn’t you do it? That is the basic concept behind the chat. Rather than waiting for the “annual” convention or workshop, why not just participate in conversations regularly and make connections with others who understand the challenges that you face?

 I’m hoping that the chat will once again inspire idea sharing, networking, and professional growth. It really is just one more avenue in which to do this. Other areas for professional growth in collegiate athletics that you should be participating in include:

 1.       DI , D2 , D3 , and NAIA Ticker – This is a free email service and there are separate emails for each collegiate division. Each email includes articles highlighting events, shares breaking news, and announcements specific to that division. I work for an NAIA institution but I read all four of these each time they are delivered in a given week and find them as a great resource of information.

 2.       Workshops and Conventions – The traditional form of professional development and networking is attending annual conventions. There is a plethora to choose from with lots of great sessions and presenters:

·         NACDA – Annual convention in June with additional symposiums in the Fall and Spring

·         CALS – Collegiate Athletic Leadership Symposium – annually held in the Fall.

·         BOSCA – Business of Small College Athletics – annually held in the Fall.

·         Women Leaders in College Sports – annually held in the Fall

·         NCAA Convention(some professional development offered) – annually held in January

·         NAIA Convention – Annually held in April

 

I hope that you will join the conversation when #scachat starts back on January 14th. Regardless, make growing your network and growing professionally a priority. The impact it will have on you personally and professionally will be significant!

By Bob Peterson 13 Dec, 2017

My Cousin and I both went to small colleges with about 1000 students.   My alma mater happened to be in a large metropolitan city and his was in a small community with a population of approximately 5,000.

During a recent golf outing I was talking to my cousin about the pressure that I face to raise money as an Athletic Director at a small college.   I told him about our approaches to booster clubs, special events, and that we were generally always looking for ways to generate revenue.

His response?   “At least you’re in a big city where there are lots of resources to be found, the athletic department at my poor alma mater is falling to pieces and hasn’t made any upgrades in years.”     I promptly told him that everyone has challenges, for me the challenge is that I’m in a city(Oklahoma City) that now has an NBA team with 18,000 fans showing up every night.   I’m also surrounded by two major universities(Oklahoma and Oklahoma State), and I face significant challenges in raising funds.     Raising money isn’t about your location.

There are lots of things that make raising money for college athletics hard.

  1. The Economy Stinks.

  2. My University won’t let Athletics approach the biggest potential donors.

  3. Foundations rarely make gifts to support Athletics.

  4. I don’t have a full-time fund-raising staff person.

  5. There are thousands of more deserving charities.

  6. None of my alums have struck it rich (most of them are teachers).

I asked my cousin, who has done quite well in life, how often his alma mater has reached out to him to give to athletics.   The answer…”hardly ever.”   Therein lies the problem !

I have no doubt that raising money at some schools is more difficult than it is at others…but that’s no excuse for not trying.   Fundraising, like any form of sales, requires a belief in your product, a willingness to ask others to share your belief, a plan, and action.

Belief in Your Product   – It should go without saying that every member of your staff believes in the importance of what they are doing and the mission of the athletic department.   They should be able to share this mission and your needs easily with anyone.  

Willingness to Ask Others to Share Your Belief   – We are all selling.   Every recruit that we approach is a sales opportunity.   Fund-raising is no different.   Every staff member has to be willing to share the story with others.   The story must be consistent.

A Plan   – This doesn’t have to be hard.   At a minimum for a small college the plan includes a strategy for approaching alumni, parents, and local businesses.   The key is to get them in the habit of giving.   Don’t worry if the first gift is only $50.   The idea is that the donor will continue that gift for the next 20 years(did I mention that this is a perpetual process?).

Action   – Sometimes this is the hardest part.   Every other effort is for naught if you don’t take action.   Set up meetings with prospects in your community.   Invite them to a game or special event.   Create a monthly “Athletic Luncheon.” Send letters or create a Phonathon for prospects that aren’t in your community.   You must be committed and set aside time each day and each week to complete this task.   It may take you 3 calls to get one response…but this is time well spent.  

Success in fund-raising isn’t based on luck and location.   Like sports itself, success in this area is based on effort, strategy, commitment, and belief.   At small colleges, every member of your staff has to understand and participate in this endeavor.   The results will speak for themselves.


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Jim Abbott

(405) 208-9133
jabbott@okcu.edu
@jimabbott33

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