Before Director White spoke President Satish K. Tripathi spoke and, as always, made sure to emphasize that a solid athletics program is a tangible improvement to the quality of student life on campus. As far as I am concerned he can't beat that drum enough.
It's a belief I share and my one huge regret from UB is that I did not take more time to attend the athletic events. For someone like me who loves sports it was a lost opportunity to connect more to the other students and the school at large.
The first thing that strikes you about White is his age. At 32 years old he looks like one of the graduate students floating around campus. He has ascended pretty fast both because of family ties and because he always seemed to do one heck of a job. His name may have gotten his foot in the door for an interview but wherever he lands White seems to hit it out of the park.
So with that out of the way the new Director Spoke. It was a quick series of acknowledgments followed some praise for UB on the academic side, with a hat tip to the AAU status. Then he finished with five promises. They are mostly the type of promises that new Directors make.
1) Student Athlete Centered: This was a big focus of Warde's and with the new APR rate rules coming on line you can bet just about every AD takes it seriously.
2) Integrity first: Without calling out any institutions by name he mentioned that a lot of hig profile schools are "doing it wrong" and as a result the Athletics department is hurting the school.
3) Recruit Support staff that is ambitious "That want my job": I like the concept but it will be a challenge to keep good people in high positions and keep everything above board if everyone in the department is after your job.
4) Bring an Innovative and Opportunistic business model: I know pointy hair boss speak when I hear it. White has been focused on the business aspects of departments for some time and UB can use that. I'd like to see who he is going to bring in to make sure the product is fun to watch.
5) Compete for Championships: Which we need... For the second time in three years UB has failed to win a conference championship in any sport (regular season mens tennis and maybe swimming). The department as a whole has gotten better but it's not winning championships.
White was hit with two great questions in the Q&A. He hit one out of the park and ran screaming from the other.
When asked about UB competing in a pro sports town White countered that you don't compete with the pro teams, you embrace them and embrace the culture they create. Buffalo can get behind a division one college athletics program but UB needs to get them sniffing around first. UB is the best basketball in the Buffalo Niagara region, that alone is a good hook.
Bucky Gleason's hockey question was the best of the day, and White managed it pretty well. When asked about Hockey White made a joke about not knowing where the bathrooms were. It was a funny joke but the irony of needing a trip to the bathroom when hockey came up was not lost on me.
White seemed engaging, sharp, and knew how to work a room. Overall I have a good feeling but after the Quinn experience I trust my gut a little less.