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To the Top: Problem Solvers

Feb. 9, 2018

In recent days, I have been reflecting upon the list of accomplishments within our Department of Athletics in 2017. Time and time again, I'm struck by the sheer size and volume of the problems that we have solved. That's right - problems solved! I can't look upon any member of our Department (from our Leadership Team, our Professional Staff, our Coaches, our Graduate Assistants, and our Student-Athletes) without realizing that we are solving problems. We are Problem Solvers.

Yet it seems that in recent years, the word `Problem' has gotten a bad rap. The word Problem simply means: "a question proposed for a solution - a matter or situation that is perplexing or difficult."

Yep - that's the right word. That's what we do. We solve problems. Each and every day as we head into work - whether it be our offices, our fields of play, and of course our classrooms - problems await. Important issues requiring solutions.

Problem Solving Venues
When we consider our Student-Athletes, we ask them to solve problems each and every day - in their classrooms, in their study halls, in the weight rooms, and on the fields and courts where they practice and compete. They're committed to finding solutions to their academic achievement and competitive performance.

When we consider our Coaches, we ask them to solve problems in their recruiting efforts in order to attract Student-Athletes likely to excel at USM. Our Coaches are solving problems each and every day in leading our Student-Athletes - supporting their academic achievement, athletic preparation, and competitive success. They do their best to find the best solutions to difficult situations.

The Right Problems in the Right Order
As the Director of Athletics for the past 12 months, a significant amount of my time (and that of our Leadership Team) is spent ensuring that we are working on the right problems, and in the right order. At first, the sheer number and size of our problems can seem overwhelming. In our present position, some problems just don't seem to have a solution. But that's our job, and we seem to be getting better at it with each passing month.

Consider the words of W. Clement Stone. He stated:

So you've got a problem? That's good! Why?
Because repeated victories over your problems are the rungs on your ladder to success.
With each victory you grow in wisdom, stature and experience.
You become a bigger, better, more successful person each time you meet a problem
and tackle and conquer it with a positive mental attitude.

Thank You to the Problem Solvers
Our Leadership Team, our Professional Staff, our Coaches, our Student-Athletes, our Donors, and our Fans should be proud of their hand in our problem-solving success. We have a Department of Athletics that is transforming itself through professional planning and effective management. We have great people committed to a mission that is focused on Student-Athlete wellbeing and the educational mission of the University.

Problems Solved
Look what our USM Athletics Team has solved over the past year. Consider just a few of the following, and know that these are just a fraction of the problems we have solved -

Mission and Guiding Principles
  • We solved and have published a Mission and Guiding Principles that governs all our actions. They are used in all hiring, training and management. They are in effect at all times.

Executive Operations Report in Support of Presidential Leadership and Control
  • We have solved the need to provide President Bennett with a comprehensive report on our activity within the Department in support of Presidential Leadership and Control.

Operating Unit Reporting
  • We have solved the issue of reporting from each of our Operating Units (Academics, Business, Compliance, Development, etc.) with a standardized bi-monthly reporting system.

Departmental Operations Plan
  • We have solved for the need for an Operations Plan by setting 12 Operational Priorities and an array of Goals for each Priority

Departmental Needs Report (Eagle Vision)
  • We have solved the need for a Departmental Vision and comprehensive Needs Report for projects which require funding; providing an itemized listing for all Sport Programs and Operating Units.

AD's Presentation Folio
  • We have solved the need to clearly and concisely tell the story and introduce our Department of Athletics; creating a unified voice for all our Staff and Coaches.

I'm In Campaign
  • We have solved a need to demonstrate our financial commitment to the Department, as each member of our Department has contributed to our Annual Fund.

Sport Report
  • We have solved for a set of clear expectations for our Sport Administrators and Coaches; we are now engaged in comprehensive data collection for all Sport Programs.

Special Project Teams
  • We have solved for projects that seem overwhelming, by assigning multiple people to Special Project Teams to solve our most significant problems.

  • We are solving many facility needs with the planning and funding for our new Wellness/Volleyball Center.

External Relations
  • We have solved many apparel concerns with our first comprehensive Apparel Agreement with Adidas.

  • Perhaps most important, our Student-Athletes have earned a cumulative 2.9 GPA with over 50% of our Student-Athletes earning a GPA of 3.0 or better, and an 84% Graduation Success Rate.

We are problem solvers. That's what we do - and we solve problems with Respect, with Positive Energy, with Focus, with a spirit of Excellence, with Collaboration, and with Honor. Those are our Guiding Principles, and that's how we do it here.

We have solved these and so many other problems, and in the days ahead, we may be reaching out to you to help us solve some of our special problems. We continue to solve for effective budget design, budget management, and sustainable funding for our Department, our 10 Operating Units and 17 Sport Programs.

We have many problems on the road ahead. But that's OK. We are the Problem Solvers and that's what we do - on our way - To The Top!

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