July 16, 2002
Recently SantaClaraBroncos.com spent some time with Bronco Director of Athletics Cheryl L. Levick and asked a few questions. Here is a transcript of that interview.
Q: What would you consider some of the biggest challenges of being an athletic director, particularly at a school such as Santa Clara University?
A: "Clearly one of the biggest challenges we have at Santa Clara is fundraising in a depressed economy. Our athletic department is currently in a strong growth period. We are working hard to improve our facilities, increase scholarship opportunities and grow our part-time coaches into full-time positions. The economic climate is down right now and that makes fundraising to meet our goals more of a challenge."
Q: Several coaches have left the athletic department this spring. What are some of the challenges of retaining coaches as well as attractive quality new ones to replace them?
A: "We had four head coaches leave our staff this spring. Three of the four were reflective of the natural ebb and flow of college athletics, while the fourth came as a surprise. However, with our department in such a positive direction and the commitment from the University to provide a top-level athletics department, we have been able to attract some very talented coaches to our program. I think the most difficult issue in attracting younger coaches to the Bay Area is the cost of living. Generally, they are trying to start their coaching career and get into the housing marketing. That is a difficult combination. So, the cost of living, particularly the housing market here, is always going to be a challenge for me as an athletic director in the Bay Area."
Q: With Title IX turning 30 years old this year, do you view that landmark legislation as having achieved its original purpose and do you see it as something that is perhaps a bit outdated in its usefulness?
A: "Certainly, Title IX was landmark legislation. However, I don't think the original writers understood the impact it would have on sport. Even though it was not specifically mentioned in the legislation, sport at the high school and college levels suffered the most discrimination. I believe Title IX has accomplished a portion of its original objectives but there is still a long way to go; particularly in the high schools. I think that is where we are not seeing Title IX upheld as strongly as we see it in the college and universities. I clearly don't feel the legislation is outdated. We are seeing the first evidence of what people are terming "Title IX babies." From women's professional leagues and national teams to world-class athletic competition, I think we are seeing women who have grown up only knowing Title IX. It is important that we retain it on the books so we continue to grow at all levels."
Q: You have served as the director of athletics at Santa Clara for two years now. Is the job what you expected it to be and how would you rate your tenure thus far?
A: "It has clearly been a wonderful opportunity to serve as the athletic director here at Santa Clara University, particularly in a period where there is a desire for significant change and growth. That is what appealed to me when I accepted the position. Fr. Locatelli really wants to move this program to national prominence and that is tremendously exciting. There is a significant amount of potential here and with that comes a lot of hard work. The job is exactly what I expected in terms of the amount of hours I put in and is precisely what I hoped in terms of the caliber of student-athletes. We have great kids who have the desire to excel on and off the field. The coaching and administrative staffs are excellent. I am probably my own worst critic, especially with regard to productivity. I may have done 20 things today but wish I would have done 200. There is always more that can be done in a day. But, I am generally pleased with what we have done in two years and how we have gone about it. The athletes we are recruiting are smart and talented. The coaches that we have and the new ones coming in will add to our growth and our ability to gain expanded national prominence. I am very pleased with where we are and even more excited about where we are going."
Q: One of the projects that you inherited was the construction of the Leavey Center. Can you provide an update on where that stands?
A: "I am excited to say that we have finally moved into the new offices on the East side of the Leavey Center and we now have two of the four floors of offices completed. The coaches for every sport have now moved into Leavey, either into new offices or into the existing office space. So, it is exciting to finally have everyone out of trailers for the first time ever and all in the Leavey Center. That was a very important goal for me this year and one that I am most proud of. The facility remains incomplete since there are a couple of phases to go. But, what we do have finished is beautiful and has the potential to be one of the best athletic facilities on the West Coast. Not many athletic departments can claim to have everyone in one building with the basketball arena, the weight room and an academic resource center. I am really proud of how it is turning out and I'm looking forward to getting the other two phases completed."
Q: What do you think about the West Coast Conference's changes to the basketball tournament format and the idea it was toying with of playing games on Friday and Sundays?
A: "At the most recent West Coast Conference meetings, the athletic directors, the faculty representatives and, later, the presidents via conference call, really looked at where the WCC is, where the league wants to go and what the priorities for the conference are. It is clear that the league wants to maintain very strong basketball programs and try to get two teams in the NCAA basketball tournament every year. The tough questions are: What type of a format for the league championship would help achieve that end? How does the regular season schedule affect getting our teams into the tournament? And, how can we expand our television exposure? Increased television exposure and the tournament format were two areas we focused heavily on and I think we came up with a pretty good solution. At one point, we were looking at moving our regular season games to Friday nights and Sunday afternoons in order to increase the potential for television on Sunday afternoon. But, we were very worried about losing Saturday nights, in terms of providing fans the best opportunity to attend the games. So, eventually we went back to the traditional Thursday-Saturday format. When there is a Sunday television opportunity, then we will move that game to accommodate the exposure opportunity. In terms of the tournament format, we agreed to rotate the tournament every two years up and down the West Coast. It will remain in San Diego in 2003. In 2004 and 2005 it will move to the Bay Area and any of the schools in our area can bid to host it. Santa Clara will definitely bid on it and would be proud to host it in the Leavey Center. In 2006 the tournament will move to the Northwest, then circle back down to Southern California. We also adjusted the seeding for the tournament to ensure the numbers one and two seeds are provided byes to protect their ability to get into the NCAA Tournament and protect their ratings potential."
Levick's regular column will return in September.