You are Boston College athletic director Brad Bates and you are at a cross roads with your men’s basketball program.
Forget, for now, the names that are on your wish list to replace Steve Donahue, who you fired last week basically for failure to perform.
What you must decide is far bigger than any one name. It is about changing a culture.
The BC culture in athletics–and particularly in basketball-has been to provide enough, but not over indulge. Don’t overpay. Don’t lower academic standards. Don’t allow a college athlete to feel he or she is bigger or better than their peer group.
It is a nice philosophy at…Williams, Amherst, Harvard.
In the shark-invested waters that has the top level of college basketball has become it is an antiquated and losing philosophy in many instances.
Take something as basic as travel. Almost every big time program charters for all of its road games. Even schools such as Fordham and Hofstra use charter flights.
BC? The Eagles still fly commercial on almost half of their trips.
Why is this a big deal? Well, if you are an academic oriented school such as BC, missing class time is a key factor.
Flying a charter gets you back home the night or early morning of the game.
Flying commercial gets you home sometime the next day.
Admissions? Again, BC has high academic admission standards. So do schools such as Harvard and Duke.
Guess which school is tougher to gain admission?
What Duke and Harvard do is make sure that once you get into school you can survive. Multiple academic advisors are available around the basketball program.
So why not take a kid who does not meet the academic requirements of the school and give them the support they need, especially if he is a first-team All American point guard or NBA lottery type player.
BC needs to lower its admissions to get better players, while increasing its support system.
It needs to spend more money, making life as an athlete easier, better, more attractive.
Bates must fight through this wall that all BC athletic administrators have dealt with for years.
He must also convince the money people at BC that spending 10 million dollars on college basketball improvements in salaries, facilities and staffing could very well bring back 20 million in additional revenue if the program can jump to the upper level of the ACC in basketball.
It is a tough fight. It is impossible–no matter who is chosen as the next coach–if the culture does not change.
Whether Bates can win that battle is as important as who he choses as the next basketball coach.
Right now, BC hoops is at its lowest level in a generation and the waters in the ACC are deeper and choppier then they ever have been.
Brad Bates knows this.
Hiring someone like a Tommy Amaker would be a start. But if Amaker is smart–and he is–he will not come without reassurances that things at The Heights will change, that the support to succeed will be there when it is necessary.
Whether this happens or not remains to be seen.
© 2014, Mark. All rights reserved.