Buckner continues its Blue Ribbon Tips series with insight from Dr. Brad Teague, University of Central Arkansas Director of Athletics. A Blue Ribbon Tips post contains best practices, strategies and tips for administrators from sports and higher-education professionals.
Dr. Teague highlighted several issues that he believes will be important for athletics programs to consider in the immediate future:
1. Future (Five-Year) Issues or Trends in College Sports: “The new autonomy rules and their effect on FCS programs. We are currently in a wait and see mode, but feel sure several new rules or portions of rules will find their way to our conference. If so, we have to respond to maintain competitiveness.”
2. Education and Training of Future Intercollegiate Athletic Leaders: “The NCAA is a vast organization. Even those with great access and knowledge are many times unclear on processes. I think we need a more streamlined system (I know this is a goal of the NCAA currently) and then better sessions at the convention for educating and training. But, at the end of the day, there is no better training than doing the job. Understanding that jobs are not easily obtained, young aspiring professionals may have to volunteer to gain experience.”
3. Changes to the Athletic Director Position: “This is my 12th year as an NCAA Athletics Director. The role hasn’t changed a great deal. We still respond to issues in our departments and on our campuses. Issues arise daily and it is imperative we respond. Outside of issues, we have to do all we can to provide a great student-athlete and fan/donor experience and all that is incorporated in that.”
4. Economic Impact on Your Athletics Department: “The effects of the downturn several years ago were felt at our level. We all had to make tough decisions on expenses. There are many expense increases that are simply out of our control (i.e., tuition increases, medical expenses, fuel costs, etc.). It doesn’t seem to have affected the upper level of collegiate athletics as those budgets continue to rise dramatically. Good for them.”
5. Technology Integral to an Athletics Department: “We utilize technology well for our level. We have a full-time video marketing position and a brand manager. They utilize technology to ensure our image is prevalent on many levels. Video and social media are large parts of our daily work. It truly allows us to publicize ourselves whether the media decides to or not.”
6. Your Basic Philosophy for the Athletics Department: “We live by three principles: 1. Provide a great student-athlete experience; 2. Provide a great fan/donor experience; and 3. Provide a great image for our program. We have a set of core values that guide us as well: 1. Student Success; 2. Excellence; 3. Accountability; 4. Innovation; and 5. Collegiality. We wanted to use a few different terms that really described our program.”
7. Personnel Gaps in a Typical FCS Athletics Department: “We are deficient in academic support, fundraising, marketing, compliance, facilities, and business affairs to name a few. But the great thing about our level is we all are accustomed to doing many jobs and wearing many hats. We wouldn’t want it any different.”
8. Obstacles to Good Health of Athletics Departments: “It’s always about funding. That is the biggest obstacle. If several expense increases are out of our annual control, then revenue has to be added to cover the cost. At our level, there is a ceiling for revenue support. Each program will reach their ceiling at varying times. It will be interesting to see.”
9. Engaging Stakeholders: “Inform. Interact. Provide. There can’t be enough communication with stakeholders and there are many groups of stakeholders. Athletics Directors have to figure out ways to provide information timely and consistently.”
Dr. Brad Teague Biography
Dr. Brad Teague assumed the helm during the University of Central Arkansas’s first year of the four-year reclassification process and guided the program to full Division-I status while overseeing numerous facility upgrades, strengthening fundraising efforts, and ensuring a smooth transition academically under the more stringent standards of Division I athletics.
Under Teague’s guidance, Central Arkansas went through the transition period without incurring any Academic Progress Rate (APR) penalties and had an average APR of 974 for the school’s 17 sports. The overall cumulative GPA for all sports also increased from 2.75 to 2.98, and the graduation rate has been raised five points. Central Arkansas has led the Southland Conference in number of student-athletes on the Commissioner’s Honor Roll, putting 202 on the list in the past year. The academic advising center for student-athletes has tripled its staff size and the tutoring center has also undergone a renovation.
The most striking improvements during Teague’s tenure has been in athletics facilities. With recently completed projects including a 7,500-square foot strength and conditioning center and 12 luxury skyboxes, nearly 13 million dollars worth of upgrades will have occurred since 2009. Virtually every facility has undergone upgrades, with projects ranging from locker room renovations all the way up to the construction of new stadiums.
Some of the major improvements include:
• Skyboxes at football stadium
• Purple and gray synthetic turf at football stadium
• Video boards at football and basketball facilities
• 7,500-sq. foot strength & conditioning center
• Expanded athletic training facilities
• New baseball stadium
• New track/soccer complex
• New grandstands, locker room and enclosed hitting cages at softball
• GeoSurfaces synthetic turf at baseball and softball facilities
• Floor and courtside seating in basketball arena
The Purple Circle Foundation, Central Arkansas’ private fundraising arm, has also seen tremendous growth under Teague — more than tripling in donations in his first year and growing another 60 percent since then.
Another way in which Teague has helped Central Arkansas’ advancement is through the hiring of successful coaches to lead the school’s teams. In his short time at Central Arkansas, many of the programs have flourished through the work of a talented group of coaches.
Teague came to Central Arkansas following a four-year stint as Director of Athletics at his alma mater of Delta State in Cleveland, Miss., where he spearheaded several large fundraising projects and oversaw a successful program that won the 2005 Gulf South Conference All-Sports Trophy and had 10 of 13 teams in the national rankings during the 2005-06 season. As a student-athlete at DSU, Teague was an All-American pitcher and was awarded the GSC Commissioner’s Trophy as the league’s top student-athlete in 1992.
Teague began his professional career by serving four years as assistant director of the Delta State Alumni Foundation from ’92-’96. He then moved to the University of Mississippi where he served as Assistant to the Athletic Director before taking over as the Associate Director of the Ole Miss Loyalty Foundation in 1998.
A native of Jackson, Miss., Teague received his Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Delta State in 1992, Master’s of Education in Administration from DSU in ’95 and his Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership from Ole Miss in 2000.
He and his wife Gina reside in Conway with their four children – Parker (14), Berris (12), Cooper (9) and Hutson (5).