What are You Doing This Summer?

  • By Jim Abbott
  • 28 Jul, 2016

Summer is about more than just vacations.

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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