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Cleveland State: Strategic Planning and Implementation

AthleticDirectorU is proud partner with Cleveland State University to present an in-depth look at how the Vikings completed its new strategic plan amid challenges associated with the pandemic. Part I of the series includes conversations with President Harlan Sands, Director of Athletics Scott Garrett, Deputy AD for External Operations Tyler Jones and Deputy AD for Student-Athlete Experience Kelsie Gory Harkey. Perspectives and insights from the four leaders will help equip other departments around the country with a compass to chart their own paths through the ever changing world of college athletics and its positioning within greater society.


Harlan M. Sands – President



  • 0:34 – How can athletics enhance the overall brand and mission of the institution?
  • 2:00 – How has the impact of athletics changed during your time in higher education?
  • 3:20 – How will Cleveland State ensure transparency and trust are at the forefront?
  • 4:54 – How can Cleveland State further become a pillar in the community?
  • 6:47 – Why is now the right time to launch this strategic plan?
  • 9:42 – How did the pandemic help reset priorities?
  • 12:00 – How will this strategic plan and the CSU 2.0 plan enhance the student experience?
  • 14:12 – What are your thoughts about the changes to Name, Image and Likeness?
  • 16:18 – With the momentum behind Men’s Basketball, how can Cleveland State University continue to win?


Scott Garrett – Director of Athletics


  • 0:30 – How did you determine who would be involved in the strategic planning process?
  • 4:03 – During the process, did you come across any gaps that surprised you?
  • 6:30 – How important is it for supporters to have input via the Athletics Visiting Committee?
  • 8:46 – How did the pandemic help focus the priorities for this plan?
  • 11:55 – How will elements of the CSU 2.0 Strategic Plan impact athletics?
  • 15:30 – How can athletics help boost enrollment to assist with the goals of the CSU 2.0 Strategic Plan?
  • 17:42 – How will you work to align messaging to donors with the university on the coming capital campaign?
  • 19:27 – How will this strategic plan positively impact the brand and mission of CSU?
  • 21:38 – How are you handling NIL?
  • 23:40 – Both professional development and diversity, equity and inclusion are key elements of this plan. What opportunities for your coaches and staff are you most excited about?
  • 25:12 – How will you continue to recalibrate the strategic plan and roadmap moving forward?
  • 26:45 – How will you work to embody these goals and ensure your team are able to help execute this plan?


Kelsie Gory Harkey – Deputy Athletic Director – Student-Athlete Experience

Tyler Jones – Deputy Director of Athletics – External Operations


  • 0:28 – What were your roles in the development of the strategic plan?
  • 1:43 – How can CSU enhance the university’s overall brand?
  • 2:44 – How did you create buy-in from coaches, student-athletes and more?
  • 3:40 – Were there any areas of need that arose from those conversations that had not been previously identified?
  • 4:28 – What part of this plan will have the biggest impact on the student-athlete experience?
  • 5:38 – How will the professional development aspect of this strategic plan help further the goals of the coaches and staff?
  • 7:22 – How will the community be integrated into athletics through this plan?
  • 9:26 – With Men’s Basketball as a driver in this plan, what innovative marketing tactics will you employ and how will student-athletes be involved?
  • 10:32 – What opportunities will the strategic plan provide new student-athletes?
  • 12:24 – How will you evaluate the effectiveness of this plan?