un streamed into the giant windows lining the side of the athletic administration office in Conte Forum. A new season had arrived at Chestnut Hill and the snow gracing campus had finally begun to melt. Boston College Athletic Director Brad Bates surveyed the view from his office suite, a well-organized complex overlooking Alumni Stadium in a booming, domineering fashion. “This can be a pretty nice view,” he said. “The Bubble is finally going down over break.” From this vantage point, Bates can see everything—well, almost everything. And that is exactly what he wants. The “Bubble,” BC’s temporary practice facility during the long winter months, precludes Bates from a panoramic view of Alumni. With the progress made in the past few months, though, it seems likely that the Bubble’s days are long gone.
He insisted that the growth of BC’s student-athletes is paramount to his department’s success, saying, “The needs of our kids are the top priority. If we maximize their development, I have done my job.” With the ever-increasing concern for an improvement of facilities, Bates is fulfilling his mission—serving his students in setting up plans for the construction of new, state-of-theart facilities. Given his track record at Miami (OH), where he remodeled the university’s football field and hockey rink, the prospect of new and improved facilities is looking better than ever.
Building a new culture
Photo by Alex Krowiak/Gavel Media Image
Breaking up the “facilities issue”
A plethora of concerns and problems wait for Bates and his team to conquer every day—among them is the growing issue of lackluster athletic facilities. The cry for practice facilities and other department-wide improvements heightened with the departure of Gene DeFillippo, leaving Bates, the former Miami (OH) athletic director and Michigan football player, with a lot of issues to be resolved. “We must prioritize the athletic facilities that will best fit this institution,” Bates said. “We have to work in conjunction with the University and other resources to serve the greater good of our students.” “Ultimately, we will look at what we need the most and align our resources with it accordingly,” he said. Among the facilities not detailed by Bates but rabidly discussed by the BC community are additional practice fields, an permanent indoor practice facility, and a renovated recreational center. 40
The lengthy list of problems left to be solved does not end at facilities, though. Enhancing the “game day experience” for fans and fostering new traditions are just a few of Bates’ goals. Commanding a superior work ethic and diligence from his colleagues, he is in the process of reviving an athletic department once criticized for being complacent and content with the status
quo. The process of ridding BC athletics of its past image was not easy. The experienced administrator in Bates was tried and challenged as soon as his introductory press conference concluded. Many alums and donors called for the firing of then-head football coach Frank Spaziani before Bates could even settle into his office in Conte Forum. The pressures evident in an environment such as BC could have easily overwhelmed anyone, but Bates kept his composure. “The surrounding department and University staff made the transition incredibly smooth,” he said. “It was exhilarating and engaging at first, but also challenging. I was so well prepared in the interview process, though, that I never encountered anything that was too far out of reach.“ Instead of worrying about minute details, he delved into the matters that were truly important, like the reformation of “game day experiences” and their surrounding culture.
The face of BC athletics takes adversity in stride In an effort to improve football tailgating and diversify pre-game activities, Bates created a marketing team in his department focused solely on making football game days more enjoyable. Another concern brought to Bates’ attention was the lack of noticeable traditions in sporting events. Citing the need for something similar to Clemson football’s “touching of the rock” before charging the field, it became apparent that Bates was eager to incite tradition through his work. “Sometimes the greatest traditions are the ones that are spontaneous— the ones that are not forced. But, if there is success and our teams are winning, that certainly increases the likelihood of such tradition to bloom.”
Opening the conversation
As he directs a few hundred employees, Bates’ typical day is flooded with meetings and conferences. Tirelessly striving for new ideas, Bates opened dialogue regarding BC’s issues in the
athletic department to students in an event called “State of the Heights,” held by the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC). The event gave regular students insight into the athletic department, serving as a means for Bates to express his ideas for the future. Opening up his office to student and alumni input, Bates knows that the best ideas come externally. In just half a year, Bates has gone above and beyond, shattering the status quo and instituting new programs intent on reshaping the image of BC athletics. Spearheading this rebuilding of BC athletics is what Bates calls a strategic plan, “bent on maximizing the growth and potential of Boston College student-athletes.” A well-worded maxim for the man who takes great pride in bettering the scholar-athletes of BC, Bates stresses that the athletic department’s main responsibility is to foster growth in its athletes. He wishes no more than “to provide students with every possible
By Teddy Kolva Sports Editor
resource to make sure that they have an incredible experience.” The plan focuses on three areas: intellectual development of student-athletes, competitive performance measures, and resources to be invested in program development. Bates is not intent on keeping these matters closed to the public either; he has opened his strategic planning for all to critique. “One of the great things about athletics is that it is incredibly transparent. You know whether we win or lose on the field,” he said. “Yet that same level of transparency has not translated into our staff. I am going to change that.” For a department once shrouded in a less inviting atmosphere, Bates’ gestures are a promising sign for BC athletics. He knows that many challenges lie ahead in the future, but that is not confining him from expanding BC sports. “There’s a great foundation here— there are a lot of great people here,” he said. “But we still have a lot of work to do.”
at a glance
BOSTON COLLEGE DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS
“We want our fans to leave saying ‘I can’t HOMETOWN Port Huron, Mich. wait to go back!’ Our EDUCATION Michigan (‘81, M.Ed ‘82); Vanderbilt Ed.D ‘98 ‘You’re No. 1’ theme UNDER HIS REIGN means every single UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI (OHIO) fan is an important Football team played in back-to-back bowl games part of BCFB.” 14 of 18 varsity sports won at least one conference championship 2 NCAA Frozen Fours including one championship
27 Mar 2013