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Challenging Expectations With Austin Peay State’s Gerald Harrison

Guest Gerald Harrison, Austin Peay State
16:45 min watch


Austin Peay State Vice President & Director of Athletics Gerald Harrison sits down with ADU’s Tai M. Brown at the 2023 NACDA Convention for a conversation about mentorship, resource allocation and the art of challenging expectations. Harrison: “We’re going to take everything that we have and all of our resources and pour into our folks but create the expectation that we can be the premiere mid-major program in the country.” Harrison breaks down the tension between upholding tradition and resetting competitive standards, including the impact of stakeholder sentiment and institutional priorities. Harrison and Brown also discuss the concept of a work identity, with Harrison quoting former Tennessee AD/FB HC Phil Fulmer in saying “You can fall in love with the building but the building can’t love you back.”

The conversation is indexed below for efficient viewing (click the time stamp to jump to a specific question/topic).

  • - Tell us about the importance of mentorship- being mentored and serving as a mentor- and the development of relationships in the industry.
  • - You're now in Year 5 at Austin Peay State; is there a challenge that you've been continuously transforming and addressing?
  • - What are the inflection points that continue to pop up as you continue to address that challenge of expectations?
  • - Talk about the aspect of trying to maximize what you have before you look at what everyone else has.
  • - As a leader, how do you manage conversations with stakeholders who are content with the status quo while you're seeking to challenge expectations?
  • - In terms of leadership, how do you keep the focus on making sure you accomplish the best you can with the time you have in the chair while understanding that there's a longevity to these institutions and we're just a part of the whole?
  • - How do you teach your staff the idea that you're ultimately there to leave the institution better than you found it?