New Year's Resolutions to Improve College Athletics

With the new year upon us and significant questions about what 2009 might hold for the country economically, here are nine potential New Year's resolutions for 2009 that athletic administrators might consider - most of which cost nothing:

  • Embrace Technology - Young administrators and coaches are leading the curve in new ways to enhance their departments. Branch out and find your niche. Subscribe to a blog, watch a video stream on your computer, start a Linked In or Facebook account. Streamline some of your internal processes. Its easy, and eye opening how fast our environment is changing.
  • Identify local service opportunities - Athletes, coaches and administrators have countless opportunities to make a difference in their local community in difficult economic times. Leadership is needed now and athletes are natural leaders who can help those in need of assistance. Make a commitment to perform the service project on an on-going basis.
  • Help those in need attend your games - Work with local groups - cub scouts, women's shelters, girl scouts, local unions, boys and girls clubs, any underprivileged group - to identify opportunities for members of charitable groups or those affected by the economy to attend a home game.
  • Talk about academics more in recruiting - The pressure to win is intense and talent is important. But a recent Chronicle of Higher Education survey indicated that 10% of prospects never talked about academics during their official visit and 73% said they never visited with a professor or visited a class during their visit. Remember, its still STUDENT-athlete.
  • Look beyond football and basketball - There are hundreds of great stories and people beyond the bright lights of the revenue sports. Support them.
  • Thank your support staff - Athletes and coaches get the attention, but there are many people making their success possible. Equipment staff, grounds crew, business office, athletic medicine, strength staff, ticket office and many others all take great pride in their work. They don't do it for attention. Small ways of showing appreciation go a long way in boosting department morale.
  • Be green - What can you do to reduce your carbon footprint? Shrink your media guide. Produce a smaller game program. Play a local program you've avoided playing so that your travel distance is less. Recycle at your venues. Most of these are easy and can even save money.
  • Reemphasize sportsmanship - Work to emphasize the value of positive support for your teams. Make sure your athletes respect your guests. Educate your fans about the same expectation. Everyone wants an intense home environment, but it should avoid being annoying and definitely shouldn't be offensive. Athletics can provide a great environment in which to provide examples of how we can be a more civil society, but the opportunities have to be cultivated. Let's change the tone.
  • Learn how the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) works - Every sport uses a version of it; it is one of the single biggest influences in post season selection; and it significantly impacts regular season non-conference scheduling; yet it is barely understood by most people. If athletic leaders really understood how influential the RPI is, they'd spend a lot more time thinking about how to use it to their advantage and how to make it better than the current model.