From the first 90 days, to communication, to mind-reading executive assistants, Bowling Green’s Bob Moosbrugger joined ADU as the current Athletic Director in Residence. Answering questions on a broad range of topics, Moosbrugger offers career advice and speaks on one of his challenges in his first year at BGSU.
Bob, what are the lessons learned on how to make the first 90 days in your new AD position as effective as possible? How does one lay a foundation for future success during this time?
Listening is so important. People want to be heard.
Like many, I had a plan to listen and learn a lot in those first few months on the job. I met with as many constituents as possible. I firmly believe what I learned during those meeting from many different perspectives gave me a great foundation of knowledge. Listen, learn, and start making decisions based on what is best for your student-athletes.
With coaches salaries going up, recruiting costs going up, tuition/scholarships going up, how do mid-majors sustain successful Division I athletics programs. I also see you have hockey, basketball, and football. By eliminating one of those sports you could support the other two with more resources… is that ever on the table?
Success comes in many forms. First, we want to make sure we provide a great student-athlete experience and prepare them for success after sports. With a graduation success rate of 89%, we feel we are pretty successful but we always strive to be better.
Competitive success is very important and we are not where we want to be in that regard. Our coaches, student-athletes, and administration believe we can compete for league championships in all of our sports. Resources are so important and we will not be bashful in asking for support. Our consistent message to fans, alumni, and donors is that we need their support for sustained success. State funding to colleges and universities is down in many states. We must take on the responsibility of producing more resources.
Eliminating a sport is the last option and I have not considered cutting sports. To be where we want to be, we must have football and basketball. In 1984, we won the hockey national championship and we believe we can compete for another.
During your Bowling Green introductory press conference, you expanded on Dr. Kevin White’s five-focus framework (1. Student-Athlete Experience, 2. Personnel, 3. Facilities, 4. Resource Acquisition, 5. Political Dynamic) with “Communication.” Can you describe explicit examples of how you focused on communication over your first year at Bowling Green and what, if any, impact communication has had on both your early successes and failures as an AD? Thanks and Go Aztecs!
Go Aztecs!? Where did this question come from?
Whether to student-athletes, coaches, University Administration, fans, donor, and/or alumni, communication is critical to our success. Consistent messaging is important.
One mild success was the communication my staff and I did with a decision to make scholarships our fundraising priority. In the past, donors could give to any area of athletics and have it count toward Falcon Club membership. After many discussions with coaches, University Administration, donors, and Athletics Leadership Council members, we made the decision to require scholarship giving as a prerequisite to be a member of the Falcon Club. As a result, scholarship giving rose nearly 30%. I do not believe we would have seen this increase without solid communications.
On the other hand, you try to do so much as a new AD and one thing I did not accomplish in my first year was consistent email communication with our donors, alumni, and season ticket holders. This has been resolved heading into year two.
What tools do you use to evaluate your senior staff members? Also, how many days/weeks do you give yourself & your direct reports to prepare for the review meeting(s)?
You are evaluating all the time. I was told that your annual performance review with a direct report should not be a surprise to them. I think my senior staff and I have an ongoing dialogue about getting better every day. I have one-on-one meetings biweekly and monthly depending on the staff member. Of course, there are plenty of discussions outside of those meetings but the one-on-one’s are put on the calendar to make sure we review and plan our work. As far as the annual performance review, there is usually a week to prepare for that meeting.
I have been in Student-Athlete Development for the past seven years and I would like to move to a department that will eventually lead to an AD position. I am afraid that if I don’t move, I will be pigeonholed for my whole career. Do you have any suggestions on how to communicate this to my current AD? Also, if I look beyond my current institution, how do I convince another program to consider me for a position outside my current experience?
I believe you can become an AD from all areas of the department. You have to work hard and show your value in the job you currently have. Your efforts will not go unnoticed.
If you feel you are doing the absolute best job you can in your current role and have time to expand your responsibilities, you should have that conversation with your supervisor. There are many ways to help. Every person in our department is a fundraiser, a ticket seller, a compliance officer. You communicate with people every day that could help your department. For example, in student-athlete development, you may have great relationships with former student-athletes, how can you help the development office move that relationship to result in giving back to the department? Prove you can be an asset to the entire department and other institutions will recognize your talent.
How do you use your administrative or executive assistant to prepare your daily, weekly, and monthly schedules? Do you have any set rules about when you do or do not make yourself available for meetings? Do you set aside time day for your own mental clarity/reading/reflection?
Great question. I’m not sure I have mastered this one yet. My administrative assistant is a great mind reader. She has learned many of my tendencies. She knows when I might need time to prepare for a meeting so she is sure to clear my schedule beforehand. There are no set rules but we discuss when and with whom to schedule meetings. After a morning workout, I try to get into the office before everyone else to have quiet time…easier said than done.
I noticed Bowling Green has its Strategic Plan posted on its website. Given the extreme competition around college athletics today, can a department gain an advantage by NOT providing a guiding document like a Strategic Plan?
If the question is in regards to negative recruiting, I do not think a public strategic plan exposes you to that any more than you already are. We preach to our coaches to sell the positive about our programs. Does negative recruiting happen, sure but that should not prevent you from sharing your plans. Your fans and alumni want to know your vision for the program.