Q: What are your feelings about landing this position?
A: I have to go back to my high school days. I grew up in Gainesville, Fla., with the University of Florida only a stone's throw away. I was intrigued by all the activities surrounding game days, practices, and all the things going on behind the scenes. And my goal as a high school student was to become an athletic director.
I went to Brown and played basketball there. And on one of my first days on campus I sought out the athletic director and said, "I'm not trying to take your job away." His name was John Perry and he became a mentor of mine, a great mentor. And I said, "At some point I want to be in your shoes."
He said, "I've talked to seniors on the way out about athletics, but I've never had a freshman come up to me. Let's see how things go. You're a college student, your mind might change."
I never did. I was never focused on being at a particular place, but I knew wanted to be at a place that struck a particular balance between academics and athletics.
I think the track record that I have shows that I have done that, and when you're talking about a particular place, Stanford comes at the top of the list.
To be here is kind of surreal, but by the same token, this is something that I've wanted for so long. And now that it's come to fruition, it's truly a dream come true.
Q: You really wanted to be an athletic director when you were in high school?
A: Yes. Back then, I had that focus. I knew I didn't have professional aspirations (in basketball), but I knew it would be great to work behind the scenes, to help students do their craft.
Q: How good a basketball player were you? (He was a co-captain in 1989-90 and a starting forward)
A: Well, I knew I had to get into administration as quickly as possible. I knew my basketball career probably would be over after college. I had the opportunity to play here, in the Apple Invitational in'87 (a 90-78 Stanford victory). I remember Todd Lichti lighting us up quite a bit. I had a great collegiate experience, but I knew administration was what I wanted to get into.
Q: Do you understand what Bob Bowlsby meant when he said he must embrace what Stanford is, and the values it holds?
A: I think I understand. Bob is somebody I've looked to and admired over the years. I know I'm trying to fill some big shoes here. There is a long line of great AD's that have been here so, hopefully, I can carry the torch and win that 19th Directors' Cup.
It's not just win at all costs, it's truly making sure it's understanding the value of the overall experience and what Stanford means. I think I got a great sense, especially from the committee that interviewed me. Each and every one, in their own way, talked about that value system and how you cannot compromise that. Whether it be a coach, donor, student-athlete, administrator, they each said in their own way what Stanford means.
Q: When you heard Bowlsby was leaving, did you seek Stanford out?
A: I heard from a search firm. They said, there's an opportunity out west. If you're interested, would you like to talk and see where things go?
I visited a couple of times, met with the committee and President Hennessy, and some other key administrators.
Q: Anything about the interview process that was unique?
A: There was nothing that took me for a loop. I had a chance to visit with the committee. We spent about two hours together. It was a chance for them to get to know me and a chance to find out what they're looking for and what their expectations were for the job. I thought it was a good exchange. It was a very healthy dialogue that kind of set the course to what was to come. It was also helpful too to really get a better sense of the place. I've been to Stanford for competitions and games, especially when I was at Notre Dame, but obviously to come and hear it told a number of different ways was helpful.
Q: Do you know anybody here particularly well?
A: Some of the staff, but not anyone really close. For me, it's going to be a heck of a learning curve. But I'm looking forward to the challenge and I'm looking forward to getting going. I'll start in mid-August.
Q: Did you talk to (former Stanford and Notre Dame football coach) Tyrone Willingham?
A: I did. I talked to not only Tyrone, but (former Stanford and current Notre Dame men's soccer coach) Bobby Clark, too. In my time at Georgetown, I hired Brian Wiese, who was an assistant here, as soccer coach. Each and every one of them spoke so fondly of the place. I felt like I knew a little bit about this place, and obviously I'll learn a lot more when I get here and get underway.
Q: What can people expect from you?
A: I would hope that people think, when it's all said and done, that I'm bringing in a passion and concern for the student experience to make it even better. I'd like to support our coaches and administrators to the nth degree. I know I'll be present, but so will my family, and hopefully we can foster an even greater family atmosphere here. And then, that people will walk away from here, especially student-athletes, with fond memories of the place, and that administrators were really supportive of their effort.
Q: A couple of housekeeping questions: How old are you and how tall are you?
A: I just turned 44 on July 22nd, and I'm 6-5.
Q: What do you know much about the Big Game and Stanford-Cal rivalry?
A: I know somewhat what that means to both institutions. A colleague of mine at Notre Dame (Sandy Barbour) is the AD at the institution across the Bay. So, I'm looking forward to really getting entrenched in the Big Game.
Q: Is there anything you see in the athletic department that you're going to need to focus your attention on?
A: The main thing across the board is getting to understand the place. I know there are some coaching hires to make. I know there are some financial challenges. But I will be brought up to speed very quickly and I'll be here to support our student-athletes and coaches.
Q: Was there any uncertainty in taking the job?
A: When I was told about this opportunity, I told my wife, Liz, "We've got to go. We've got to make it happen." I loved my experience at Delaware. It was a three-year stint, but it could have been much longer. But because of the institution, and the opportunity that presented itself, I knew I had to jump in.
Q: To go from Gainesville to Brown, were you a top student or valedictorian?
A: I was not a valedictorian, but I knew that, in the words of my mom and dad, they preached "don't let basketball use you, use basketball to get to where you want to be. And if you ever have the opportunity to get an Ivy League education, you've got to take advantage of it."
Q: What was your major?
A: Organizational behavior and management.
Q: From a basketball perspective, could you explain going from Georgetown to Delaware?
A: For me, it was an opportunity ... coming from Notre Dame, I knew the basketball experience at Georgetown would be phenomenal. That experience was great. But there were some things I did miss, like football Saturdays. Though it we did have football, it wasn't the same experience like it was at Delaware. To have that, and to grow a number of programs that could compete for conference championships. I knew this would be a great challenge and a chance to roll up our sleeves. From the outside, I could see where people might say, Why that move? But, obviously, it got me to where I'm front of you today. So, the pattern was helpful.
Q: What was your major accomplishment at Delaware?
A: We made it to a higher level in a number of sports. Our women's basketball program cracked the Top 10. No thanks to me, but I'd like to think I was very supportive of that process. We have a brand new basketball/volleyball practice facility to celebrate. Our men's soccer program made it to the NCAA's for the first time in a number of years and won the conference championship outright for the first time in years. And we hired some great coaches who may position their teams for the NCAA's in the years to come.
Q: Do you take pride in being able to identify outstanding coaches?
A: To me, the recruiting never stops. Any interaction is about recruiting, whether it be coaches, administrators, donors, student-athletes, media. To me, it's truly that process. I really enjoy that.
Q: Did you try to bring (Delaware basketball star) Elena Delle Donne with you?
A: Tara mentioned that she was hoping for a package deal, but she just got one piece of the puzzle.