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PENN STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 26, 2014
PRESIDENT BARRON:Â We have an announcement related to a key position at Penn State, but before I do I want to thank Dave Joyner for his commitment to Penn State athletics.Â He consistently focused on integrity, academics and championships.Â He's out of town and unable to be here, but I want to make sure I start off making sure everyone understands how much we appreciate his service.
Our university has had a long and successful history in intercollegiate athletics, one that has contributed to Penn State in many ways over the years.Â Our successes have been noted both on the field and in the classroom, and that is a fundamental value at Penn State.Â It's a value that in large part drove our decision in naming our next athletic director.Â In searching for our next athletic director, we looked for a person who could continue to provide experienced leadership for our 31 varsity sports programs and our 800 plus student athletes.Â In addition to finding someone with proven skills at the highest levels, someone who is committed to academic excellence in our student athletes as well as success in our sports program.
A person who is experienced in complex institutions and multi million dollar budgets, the smooth operation of facilities and also creating an exciting fan experience.Â I must admit that I also looked for an individual with a full set of experiences; in some ways what I would describe as an ideal candidate for athletic director.Â This is an individual who was a student athlete, who sought higher degrees after completion of their undergraduate degree, had experience as a coach, climbed the ladder within athletic administration at multiple universities, getting a perspective on many different programs and how they function and function well, and even gaining experience in difficult situations that are inevitable.Â I also wanted to make sure we had a person who has gained a position of national leadership.Â This is an institution who should be at the forefront of athletic leadership.
So we asked a lot of our candidate, and I believe our choice can deliver on all counts.Â We found the right person to lead our program, and the screening committee that weighed candidate credentials found this person to be the clear choice, the first choice of every single member of the screening committee, a unanimous choice to be the next AD at Penn State University.Â Allow me to introduce Penn State's new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Sandy Barbour.Â
Sandy was an athlete, field hockey and basketball at Wake Forest.Â She gained a Masters degree in Sports Management at UMass, where she also began her career as field hockey assistant coach.Â She also gained an MBA while at Northwestern, where she was field hockey and lacrosse coach and Assistant AD.Â That began a remarkable set of administrative experiences.Â Sandy has been one of the longest tenured athletic directors in the Pac 12, until recently overseeing athletics programs and operations at the University of California since 2004, and during her tenure the Golden Bears produced 19 national team titles and built a state‑of‑the‑art athletic performance center.
Sandy's career in intercollegiate athletics spans more than three decades and has taken her to Northwestern, Tulane, Notre Dame, as well as the University of California, where she has served in key athletics positions and held tremendous responsibilities.Â More information on her background can be found in the press packets at your seats.
At the University of California Sandy managed an annual budget of about $100 million, a staff of 260, a 30‑sport program and also helped attract more than $315 million in gifts toward scholarships, operations and facilities.Â I anticipate with that wealth of experience that her entry into the Big 10 Conference will be a smooth one.Â I just want you to know that I personally very much look forward to working with her, and I want to take this moment to thank each of the members of the screening committee who gave considerable amount of time and thought to this selection and made sure that we not only had a great AD, but we have the confidence of knowing that this was a clear choice, a unanimous choice of our committee.Â Now I would like to turn the program over to Sandy for a few remarks.
SANDY BARBOUR:Â When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State.
You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn State athletics.Â Why?Â Because it represents the opportunity to have it all:Â Athletic excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal responsibility.Â So thank you, Eric.Â I am absolutely thrilled, over the top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at Penn State.Â I want to lend my thanks to Eric and the committee.Â It was an arduous process, it always is, and I want to thank them for their confidentiality and their confidence.Â I want to thank Eric.Â I am here because of him, because of his confidence and because of his leadership and my belief in that.
I want to thank Cal.Â It's been my home for ten years, an incredible place with a very, very bright future, and I appreciate the opportunity that they gave me.Â Now I will thank my family.Â We're a tight‑knit group, as you will learn, I'm an east coaster, I'm from Maryland, and this is coming home.Â They've been very patient with me, and they're an incredible group that I know you all will get to know as well.
I love the" We Are Penn State."Â I particularly love what it stands for.Â It stands for family.Â It's a power, powerful message that we win together, we lose together.Â When we stumble, and we will stumble, when we stumble, we pick each other up, we look ourselves in the mirror, we make no excuses, we own up, and we make the corrections necessary and we get back after it, together.
We are Penn State.Â There is so much that is remarkable about this university and the Penn State family.Â Like any family, there have been remarkable highs, and devastating lows.Â Despite it all, Penn State remained glued together by a legacy of commitment to compete against all odds and to excel at the highest level.Â I really admire your recent record of taking a look at yourself in the mirror, recognizing the need for more and committing to be better, to be better at the very core of this institution.
Growing up an east coaster, I have always had a deep passion for this university, for its athletic department, and most importantly, growing up a football fan.Â I have had a passion and an interest and an administration for Penn State football.Â Yes, they were the beast of the east, and I have no doubt that we will return to that under Coach Franklin, but I have much higher ‑‑ and I know we have much higher aspirations than to dominate the east and the conference.Â We aspire to national championships in each and every one of our 31 sports.
That's what we will work for every day.Â National championships are the goal, and daily we will set a course for our work with that end in mind.
I originally spoke with Dr.Barron because of the prestige of Penn State, because of the challenge of this position and because of the place that Penn State holds in the legacy of college athletics, but I am before you today, I sit here today because of what I learned about the people, what I've come to know about the Penn State family.Â First, and you already know this, you have a rock star president.Â He is as devoted to Penn State as anyone.Â Secondly, I discovered that this is a community that wants what I want.Â We want for intercollegiate athletics to provide a positive point of connection for alumni, students, faculty and staff, to serve as a point of pride amongst the many remarkable accomplishments of this incredible university.
To do this we need to win, we need to recruit and enroll diligent students, and we need to uphold the highest standards of behavior and ethics.Â It's no simple task.Â It's one that I value, and I know is of paramount importance to the Penn State Nation.Â So let me tell you this.Â I am all in.Â What does that mean?Â What does that mean to me?
First and foremost, it's to our student athletes.Â You are the "why!"Â You are the why I'm here, you are the why athletic departments exist, and I promise you, it will always be that way under my leadership.
To our coaches and our staff, you are the key.Â You are the how.Â You're responsible for the nurturing and the developing of the students and creating an enriching experience.Â You're the how it gets done, and I know you have maintained during really, really uncertain and difficult times and I'm grateful for your efforts.
To our alumni and fans and those who support Penn State in a multitude of ways, I am all in to lead a team that wins and wins the right way.Â You can be proud of how our student athletes, our coaches and our staff represent you and wear Penn State on their uniforms.
To President Barron and the Board of Trustees, I appreciate your confidence and you can count on me to uphold the mission, and values of this great public university.
To the larger university faculty and staff, our student athletes will be students first.Â We will be an athletic program within the context of a university, and we will be integrated in every way to the benefit of the university community.Â I am proud to join the Penn State family and continue to help build a better, stronger, even more competitive Penn State in the classroom, in the community, and on the field of play.
From uncommon seeds of Penn State grow an uncommon harvest of excellence.Â I am energized by the challenge and the opportunity to help cultivate that legacy.Â I'm ready.Â Every experience I've had in 33 years has led to this day.Â Most of all, I'm humbled to say that I am a newly minted Nittany Lion.Â I will give you my best, and I expect the same in return from every aspect of our community.
We only accomplish all that we are capable of if we put aside narrow agendas and focus on family and what is best for Penn State.Â You deserve nothing less.Â Together we will stretch ourselves to attain the degree of all‑around excellence that you have come to expect.Â That's the excellence that drew me to Penn State.Â A robust, diverse, eminently successful intercollegiate athletics program that every member of our community can be proud of.Â We are Penn State.Â I'm all in.Â I'm ready to get goin'.Â Thank you.Â
THE MODERATOR:Â We will take questions for the President and the Director of Athletics.
Q.Â Sandy, you mentioned all of the draws coming here and the lore.Â What are the challenges you see?
SANDY BARBOUR:Â Well, certainly there have been recent challenges that I referred to "the family" in my remarks and I think that's so important.Â Family together can get through anything, and I think that actually is one of the beauties of this job and this opportunity.
Q.Â First, Sandy, have you been able to meet and talk to the coaches yet and particularly James Franklin?
SANDY BARBOUR:Â As you can imagine it's been a little bit of a whirlwind, but James and I met this morning.Â We had a conversation, and I think obviously you will have to talk to James but I think we hit it off, and I'm looking forward to working with he and his staff and being a part of our success in the future.
I have spoken with a couple of the coaches on the phone, had an opportunity to meet a number of the staff, and it's just starting.
Q.Â Dr.Barron, Dave Joyner is he going to be part of the university as of August 1st and what title or role will he have?
PRESIDENT BARRON:Â Sandy will start August18th, and Dave will continue as AD now to the 17th, and then he will be employed by the university in a consultation role to assist Sandy in the transition and make sure that she gets off to a fast start.
Q.Â Sandy, last fall the basketball team and the football teams at Cal had graduation rates of 38 and 44%.Â What is the AD's role in precipitating a good academic environment?Â And Eric, how did that play in the decision process of the search committee?
PRESIDENT BARRON:Â Of course we look at everything, and in that particular case, I made a call to the current chancellor to discuss the APR and what had been occurring at Cal.Â It was an interesting conversation because basically he suggested that Sandy was a champion for the success of the students, and she was actually putting considerable pressure to make sure that the situation improved.Â That's one.
The other part about it is you watched a lot of things occur at Cal that occurred because of very significant budget cuts, that as we all know rippled through the whole California University System and had a severe impact on athletics and even the budget for student advising and mentoring in athletics.
One of the things he mentioned to me was that Sandy viewed this as unacceptable and pushed hard for a report in the university that was focused on the "student" part of the student athlete; the report that is going to come out earlier this fall.Â I asked him if there was any issue in there with respect to Sandy, he said quite the opposite, and she is a champion for the student athlete, and the university perhaps should have listened to her more close and they would have been more successful.Â I don't know whether that last part is fair‑‑
SANDY BARBOUR:Â I'll take it!Â I don't know that I could say it any better than Dr.Barron just did, but unacceptable is the first piece, and I will tell you I learned some things from that situation that will benefit Penn State.Â We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university.Â Our student athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to be.
Q.Â What did you learn that will benefit Penn State?
SANDY BARBOUR:Â Well, again, I think all of us in this room that we learn more from things that go wrong probably than our successes, and I think you will learn about what kinds of pressures, if you will, what kind of autonomy you provide to certain aspects of an operation as a leader.Â We're a big department‑‑ I ran a big department at Cal, I run a big department here, and it's a fine balance how much as the AD you're in the middle of it and how much you leave to others.Â I think the important part for me is to set the right vision and the right message and I want to be very clear about that, we are students first.Â We are about students first.Â 85% graduation rate is going to go to 90.
Q.Â President Barron said you were the unanimous choice of the selection committee.Â What are your qualities that you think made you the first choice?
SANDY BARBOUR:Â I think if you look at my background, which is probably the down side of you not having known it was me before now, that you don't have a whole lot of that, but I started in the Big Ten.Â I've been at academically elite institutions.Â I've had a lot of experience from coaching to internal management if you will in a variety of different ways.Â As I took on athletic director roles starting in 1996 at Tulane.Â I moved to the external side, fundraising, corporate sponsorship, a more external role, so I've done most of the different aspect of an athletic department.Â And I think finally I have a reputation for having been involved in leadership roles from an NCAA standpoint, from a governance standpoint and a conference standpoint, and I have a reputation around integrity.
I've come to my role at two different places, Tulane and Notre Dame, following issues around compliance and to work through those, so I have a reputation of coming in and having the ability to really gather team and pull team toward a common goal, and I think those are many of the reasons that I'm a great fit.
Q.Â It's no secret that Penn State's athletic department was in the red financially last year.Â I'm curious, do you consider yourself to be a business‑oriented person and do you have any plans to improve the athletic department's financial stability moving forward?
SANDY BARBOUR:Â Do I need to do that this afternoon?Â (Chuckles.)Â Somewhat along the same lines of my background, I also, while I was at Northwestern, took the opportunity to get an MBA because I saw that was in the late 80s, early 90s, so I saw where intercollegiate athletics was headed, and I thought it was important that I have the business piece.
So certainly I have enough of that to really have the ability to look at revenue generating opportunities to look at the business side of it from both an accounting standpoint and a revenue generation standpoint.Â We've done some really kind of cutting‑edge things, if you will, at Cal of late.Â We retooled and moved from an internally oriented department, we retooled with personnel and with approach to a revenue‑generating approach to create resources for the student experience.Â Not as be all's and end all's themselves.
We just acquired the‑‑ secured the largest field naming rights opportunity in the history of college athletics, we did our own in‑house outbound sales effort.Â We were one of the first in college athletics to do that, so I think that balance of having been a coach, having been internally focused, as well as having the business side of it benefits me.
Q.Â Sandy, your tenure at Cal only ended about a month ago.Â Where were you at at that point in your professional career?Â Did you think that an opportunity like this would come about only a month later?Â Would you have thought at that point that you might be in this position a month ago?
SANDY BARBOUR:Â If I told you yes, you would know I was lying to you.Â I was not looking to leave Cal.Â I actually was very excited about the opportunity to work and build a sport management program, and teaching is always something I wanted to do.Â But when this opportunity came up, I mean, I've told you how I feel about Penn State, I've told you the place that it hold for me having grown up in Maryland, and it was too much not to look at.Â And then when Dr.Barron extended the invitation to me, it was clearly an opportunity that I jumped on because this is a very, very special place.
Q.Â Sandy, you mentioned a little bit about how you want everyone to be together here at Penn State.Â Obviously there was‑‑ I don't know how much you paid attention to this but there was criticism, if you will, at the past athletic director, Dave Joyner, and his tenure.Â How do you think you can deal with a community that had a little bit of a problem with the athletic department these last couple of years?Â How do you think you can help soothe those problems?
SANDY BARBOUR:Â Well, I would only be speculating on things that have occurred in the past, but I will tell you what I know about Dave Joyner, and that is that he's a Penn State man who stepped in at a time when his university needed him desperately and did a great job and I'm grateful for that because I will inherit a department that has benefited from that.
For me it's about team and whether it's in my role as a coach or administrator or certainly as an athletic director, it's about building team and it's about understanding what the goal is and with where we're head and had it's about making decisions, each and every one of us, about acting every day and doing things that are in the best interest of Penn State.
There are no individual agendas.Â We are one and we are about what's best for Penn State.Â Everything I hear is that that's what we have here is people that love this place and want to do that, and we have to create the vision or maybe tweak the vision and get after it.Â We will do it as family.Â We will do it together.
Q.Â Have you gotten a chance to get around campus and look around?Â You don't start until August18th, but do you have a plan of attack?
SANDY BARBOUR:Â I have not had a chance today to tour campus.Â I have been here three‑‑ well, I coached here a number of times, field hockey and lacrosse, when I was an assistant coach at Northwestern, and it was a long, long time ago.Â I started at 12. (Laughter.)
We actually came to Penn State when we did our benchmarking tool for our renovations for California Memorial Stadium so we were here for a day probably in 2006, maybe, and then I was also here with our women's basketball program, I don't remember the year now, but for a first and second round game.Â So I've been here a number of times but none in the last few years, that's for sure.
I won't wait until August18th to think about hitting the pavement running, James and I already did a little bit of work this morning, and I will use the next three weeks to go back to California and get things ready to make my way home, and we will look at personnel, we will take a look at‑‑ I will talk to a lot of people.Â I have something to learn from everyone, and we will figure out what our gaps are and what we need.
Q.Â Can you outline Ms.Barbour's compensation package?
PRESIDENT BARRON:Â Sure.Â The primary focus of the contract is to be competitive within the Big Ten, so in terms of compensation $700,000 as a salary and $100,000 as a retention bonus.Â This places her fifth among Big Ten salary and our belief in every single part of this university, whether you're talking assistant professors, full professors, administrative team, athletic personnel, we intend to be competitive.Â So that's the focus.Â There is also in there the opportunity to have bonuses based on performance:Â A third that are related to student academic success, and two‑thirds related to different aspects of success on the field.
Q.Â Dr.Barron, you called Ms.Barbour the clear choice, the first choice, the unanimous choice.Â There is public reaction already that is critical of this choice, given the things that we have discussed with regard to Cal.Â Why was she such a clear choice for you guys when a lot of initial reaction based on her resume at Cal might lead others at least in the general public to question the choice?
PRESIDENT BARRON:Â So first of all, I described that breadth of experience, and everything from being a student athlete all the way to being an AD and this is incredibly valuable, and I know, as people who watch the landscape of management know that every opportunity can be a learning experience if you're the type of person that does learn from those experiences.Â But I think the other part of it is that through that due diligence you have a lot more information than what is written in a paper.
And I will tell you, hopefully you will understand what I'm saying about the depth of information, but let's look at it this way.Â I can't see anyone who has gone through a severe budget problem that's had to fix it that comes out the other end with more friends than they started with.Â It's always the opposite.
So when you have those types of stresses, and, you know, you have a chancellor that says "Okay, cut five sports" and you have an allegiance as a university to those five sports, as we would here, that doesn't put in you a particularly good position, but yet you had the responsibility to the system that in the California System went through severe budget cuts, and everybody took it on the chin.Â These are experiences where some individuals might be unhappy, but that's not the story that is significant there.
The story that is significant is it was necessary, you take the steps to do it because it's necessary to protect your entire program and to protect your university, and in the case of Cal, it actually became a fundraising opportunity that helped save sports, a good story as an outcome.
I would challenge you to go find any university that's gone through severe financial stress and have somebody come out the other end and not have a lot of people saying well why did you pick that sport?Â You should have picked this other sport and not ended up with detractors.
Q.Â Sandy, your position on some of the big picture national NCAA issues confronting right now, whether it be compensating student athletes or breaking off a division 4, unionization, the enforcement department, upheaval there, what are your views?
SANDY BARBOUR:Â You said one question.Â Actually it's easy for me to answer those.Â Obviously these were things that Dr.Barron and I talked about through the process, and we are absolutely in sync and we're in sync with the Big Ten, our position.Â I believe that student athletes ought to have access to cost of attendance.Â I have been part of the governance structure that pushed for that.Â I stood up at the convention four years ago and advocated for it.Â I do not believe that unionization has any place in college athletics.Â Our student athletes are students; they're not professionals.Â We're going to be about students and about students first.
Q.Â Ms.Barbour, you mentioned the importance of unity within Penn State and in your position.Â Given the diversity present in the Penn State community and the range of opinions on the way we should move forward with our athletic programs, do you feel maintaining or fostering that sense of unity will present challenges and if so in what way?
SANDY BARBOUR:Â I think that diversity is a huge part of unity and being respectful of that diversity.Â Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward.Â As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing a lot of listening.
THE MODERATOR:Â Okay, thank you very much.
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