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2017 BOSCA Workshop - October 16-17- 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 09 Jul, 2016
BOSCA was the perfect balance of exchanging new ideas, discussing proven business tactics that are realistic for smaller athletic programs, and networking with industry peers and colleagues. The sessions provided me with outstanding knowledge and strategies that sparked my imagination and served as an immediate return on my investment when incorporating them in my own athletic department.

Jared Alexander
Asst. A.D. - External Operations - University of Missouri - St. Louis
By Bob Peterson 06 Jul, 2016
"We just got our first 'Preferred Hotel' commitment last week. If it had not been for the Business of Small College Athletics seminar last fall I would not have gotten the idea for this program. It netted us $4000. Not bad for our first one...  It certainly made the trip to OKC worthwhile, not to mention the fellowship with all the other attendees is always enjoyable. Thank you for putting on the seminar."

Mike Moore
Athletic Director - Mayville State University - NAIA
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

RECENT UPDATES

By Jim Abbott 21 Jul, 2017

I’m a big fan of annual performance evaluations. Our evaluations start with a self-evaluation that requires an employee to evaluate their effectiveness in areas like leadership, communication, etc. The self-evaluation also allows the employee to list highlights from the year, areas that need improvement, and goals for the coming year. The self-evaluation itself tells me a lot about the employee as some folks are much too modest (rating themselves too low in numerous areas) and others are overly confident in the jobs that they are doing. Once the employee completes the evaluation they submit it to me and I add my ratings and comments about the employee’s performance. I give the completed form back to the employee and then we meet to discuss it. I want employees to have a chance to see and contemplate my written comments before we meet in person. This gives them the opportunity to be better prepared to discuss the details.

Here are some of the goals that I keep in mind when completing annual performance evaluations:

Stick to the Mission – Throughout the hiring process and the academic year we spend a lot of time talking about the expectations of our department. These expectations are closely tied to the mission of the university and the performance evaluation should reflect this. My evaluations always have a primary focus on 1. Academic success. 2. Social success. 3. Competitive success. And 4. Financial success. We expect teams to enjoy success in each of these areas and each area is relatively easy to evaluate in an objective way.

Be Specific – A coach recently listed “become more active on campus” as a goal. Honestly, I applaud this goal but I want something more specific. When I met with the coach I brought this point up to the coach and we worked together to find specific campus committees and opportunities that would help the coach reach this goal. Similarly if a coach lists “improve academic performance” as a goal, I want to know the specific steps that a coach is going to take to achieve this. This gives me items to follow up on during the year and deeper understanding of the programs a coach plans to initiate.

Praise the Good – Take the time to discuss in-depth the positives of an employee. Don’t just gloss over the good with a comment like “You’re doing great.” Back it up with a list of positives and the impact that this employee is making on your department. Coaches/staff want to know that you pay attention to the details. When I can, I like to point out positives that the staff member didn’t think to include themselves when they list their accomplishments.

Discuss the Bad(Opportunities for Improvement) – Many think that evaluations only exist so that you can nit-pick the deficiencies an employee has or take the necessary steps that will allow you to terminate the employee. It’s important that evaluations are an honest assessment and if an employee is falling short in some area then it must be openly discussed. This doesn’t have to include an overly critical approach but it should end in mutual agreement that improvements must be made and some effort to assist the employee in making the improvement.

Follow Up – The conversation that takes place during the performance evaluation often leads to additional thought and action for me.  I regularly ask employees to submit a plan of improvement, submit a financial overview, or to give me specifics that relate to goals that they have set. Similarly, when I see them initiating new programs to reach their goals I address it with them throughout the year and offer any advice that I can.

How do we get better? – This is a theme for every evaluation meeting for me. The meeting offers a real opportunity to look back at the year, evaluate what worked and what didn’t, and then set the goals that will propel the program further. This year my softball team won the National Championship and finished the year 68-1. Naturally, there isn’t much more that we can do to be better competitively. Regardless, improvement is a goal of every meeting.

What more can I do? – I always ask coaches for their assessment of the administrative functions of our department. Getting their feedback on athletic training, compliance, sports information…even our administrative assistant, helps me as I evaluate these employees as well. I also encourage their frank assessment of the job that I’m doing and what more I can do to serve the needs of their program.

Annual evaluations offer a great opportunity to pat an employee on the back, celebrate success, evaluate opportunities, and set goals for the coming year. Generally, these meetings don’t offer many surprises to employees. Department heads should be communicating with employees and working with them toward goals throughout the year. Consistent communication leads to on-going evaluation, goal adjustment, and reflection on the university mission. While I encourage administrators to have a thorough annual evaluation with each employee, these meetings are less productive if you haven’t  been communicating and evaluating success throughout the year.  Make sure that you are consistently communicating throughout the year and this annual meeting will be much more productive.

By Jim Abbott 21 Apr, 2017

For several years I lamented the lack of professional development opportunities geared specifically toward athletic administrators working in small college athletic departments. To be clear, I love NACDA and am proud to serve on their Executive Board. I love NACDA and have developed tons of great relationships and picked up great advice in the more than 20 conventions that I have attended. The fact is that I just wanted more and specifically I wanted to opportunity to interact with and learn more from people that could relate to the challenges that I face at a small college. Trying to provide a great experience for student-athletes on a very tight budget and with a very small staff.

 

Five years ago I created the Business of Small College Athletics (BOSCA). I contemplated this for more than a year and relied on input from good friends like Matt Donovan, Tracie Hitz, and Trip Durham among others. I’ll admit that this was a selfish endeavor. I wanted to get better at what I’m doing, so I created an event that could make that possible. 2017 marks the 6th year for the workshop and it has been a blessing to me in terms of relationships gained and ideas stolen!

 

The most common reasons that I heard over the years from people who could not attend the NACDA or BOSCA events were: I can’t afford the trip, I have a conflict on my schedule…etc. While these reasons make perfect sense, they also leave the individual behind on the current trends in the industry. Naturally, anybody in college athletics can pick up a phone and call a peer at another institution to gain insight into what they are doing. The trouble is that this can be a time consuming approach that doesn’t always lend itself to quick results.

 

#SBCHAT

As I continued to seek opportunities to grow in knowledge I soon learned that Twitter offered multiple avenues. For several months I tuned in on Sunday nights for #SBCHAT (Sports Business Chat) led by J.W. Cannon and Lou Imbriano. I’ll admit that I’ve never met either of these guys but they led a lively chat that discussed sports from all angles including professional, college, and more. Through the chat I connected (followed) with several other sports minded people and shared my own thoughts and opinions. I’ll admit that several topics were outside of my range of expertise…but topics like these gave me an opportunity to just sit back in listen. Eventually #SBCHAT led me to the conclusion that a chat focused on Small College Athletics could serve the same purpose.

 

#SCACHAT

In the Winter of 2013 I approached Ryan Ivey, then the Athletic Director at Texas A&M Commerce, and Kirby Garry, Athletic Director at Cal State – Monterrey Bay about the idea of creating #scachat. Both of these guys were active on Twitter and were thought leaders among small college administrators. I had just met Ryan within the last year and frankly at that point I don’t think I had ever met Kirby in person. If so, it was very briefly at the NACDA convention. Ryan and Kirby readily agreed to serve as co-hosts to the chat, with the idea that if nobody showed up for it we would just move on to something else. We hosted the first chat on Sunday, February 23, 2014.

 

Over the past 3 years we have hosted more than 130 chats and seemingly covered every topic imaginable. I can say without question that I have implemented ideas on my campus that I learned about through the chat and my professional network has grown immensely. The best thing about it is that every week I was able to converse with multiple other small college athletic administrators about timely topics that were relevant to my department…all from the comfort of my couch and absolutely free of charge. The 2nd best thing is that #scachat went on to encourage the development of other chats including #sida_chat and #ypsportschat

 

The FINAL #scachat is scheduled for Sunday, May 7, 2017. I’m grateful to all that have participated over the years and particularly appreciative of Ryan, Kirby, and Paul Smith who joined in as a regular co-host in the past year. I’m excited to see where the next great idea comes from and look forward to continued opportunities to grow and learn.

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By Jim Abbott 28 Jul, 2016

Near the end of each Spring semester I get a laugh when students ask me what I’m doing for the Summer. I tell them to enjoy this time in life when “summer” really means 3 months off from school work and practice. Like many, I look forward to the summer if only because it means that I will go home from work each day while the sun is still shining. I have also always seen Summer as a time to get re-charged, evaluate where we are and “dream up” new ideas for getting better. At the same time, summer is still filled with important tasks that keep our department running.

 

Here are some of the ways I spend the summer months.

 

Evaluations – The end of every school year also brings an opportunity to complete performance evaluations. In my case this involves evaluations for 15 head coaches and 4 administrative staff members. Our approach with the evaluation is to let each employee evaluate themselves first followed by an evaluation and meeting with me. The process can be time consuming but provides great opportunities to celebrate success and discuss future opportunities.

Budget Clean-Up – At OCU our fiscal year ends on June 30th each year. Throughout the year I monitor 50 or so budgets(each sport has an operating and scholarship budget) and 30 or so Restricted Accounts(these accounts hold revenue from fundraising, sponsorships, etc). My job at the end of the year is to make sure that every budget account balances. To do this, I send instructions to our Business Office to transfer funds from Restricted Accounts into the budget accounts that are in deficit. Almost every sport budget is in deficit at the end of a given fiscal year. I tell my coaches that I don’t mind them going over their budget, provided that they can cover their deficits with funds from their Restricted Account.

Professional Development – I am a big proponent of professional development. So much so that I created my own workshop….The Business of Small College Athletics. Summer professional development starts with the NACDA convention. The annual convention covers every level and angle of college athletics and is unmatched in providing opportunities for growth. Hundreds of sessions covering every topic imaginable and opportunities to network and share ideas with others in the profession. I also like to reach out to other administrators, whether I know them or not, to pick their brains about how they are doing things. One of the best things about working in college athletics is the willingness that administrators have to share ideas and help solve problems. I also participate in a weekly chat on Twitter known as #scachat.   #scachat brings together administrators from around the country “virtually” each Sunday night at 8pm CST to share ideas and has been a great source of information and networking for me.

Hiring/Human Resources – A big part of my job is hiring coaches and administrative staff. Generally, openings occur at season’s end or in the summer. Hiring involves working with Human Resources to get jobs posted promptly, communicating with team members to reassure them and help them understand the approach to filling the position, evaluating resumes, conducting interviews, and ultimately offering and filling the position. Hiring is a challenging experience that can easily eat up 4-6 weeks of time. As an Athletic Director I’m only as good as the people around me. I don’t particularly enjoy the hiring process but I know how important it is to my department’s success.

Revenue Generation - In my role as Athletic Director I am also the head of our External Relations efforts. During the summer I meet with all of our sponsors to evaluate and renew our partnership agreements and make calls on prospective new sponsors. I also spend the summer planning our annual giving efforts for the coming year, planning our annual golf outing, making calls on donors, organizing efforts of our Athletic Advisory committee, and helping plan special events like athletic alumni gatherings. In a given year we generate $700,000 - $900,000 in outside revenue. We rely heavily on these funds to support our student-athletes.

Prepare for Next Year – Planning and scheduling are major activities in the summer. Finalizing competition dates, scheduling outside events, planning alumni gatherings and fundraising efforts all take time and organization. Every summer we review our student-athlete handbook and schedule a staff retreat and student-athlete orientation. We also look at the new ideas that we have and figure out which ones to try to integrate for the coming year.

Relax – It’s not all work. Summer is the perfect time to read a good book, play golf and take trips with the family. I encourage our staff to get away and recharge during the summer and I follow that advice as well. Make no mistake, working in college athletics is a lifestyle that involves working nights, weekends and holidays. Enjoy and make the most of the downtime.

 

Working in college athletics is more than ball games and activities that occur when school is in “session.” It is a year round endeavor! The truth is that summer goes by very quickly for a small college athletic administrator. Despite the lack of games and students….some days can be downright hectic and issues/opportunities can take on a sense of urgency all their own. That having been said, the work you accomplish in the Summer just makes you that much more prepared when students return in the fall and the games resume. Make the most of this time!

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Jim Abbott

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

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