With Coach Paul out of the office this week, I haven’t been in as much as I would have liked to be. However, I have continued to work on the NCAC conference and looking though what the schools have done with renovations. As I worked though several more today, more and more have invested upwards of $20 million in renovations to their athletic facilities. This also includes recreational centers that students and faculty can use as well. Most try to combine the athletics with this because not only does it save money but it also makes the other students who aren’t athletes feel that this is just as much for them as it is for the athletes. These complexes are also getting bigger and bigger, including adding indoor facilities for baseball and lacrosse practices. I should be able to finish up with the conference tomorrow and will start to look at a few local universities to see what additions they have made as well, this will probably even include my Alma Matter, Tiffin University.
Just when I thought I was done with the project. I was just done with the OAC conference. While we wanted to see what upgrades were done within the OAC, they wanted to see about other local universities as well and what they were doing. Therefore, I started looking at the schools in the NCAC and seeing what kind of upgrades they have been doing to their athletic facilities. So far I was able to get a few schools in and they are doing some great things in the NCAC conference. I was highly impressed with the facilities at Allegheny, they seem to have gone first class all the way for a Division III school. As I progress through the conference I will update some of the more intriguing universities and what kind of renovations they have made or planning to make.
Today marks the first week of May and I was able to finish up my last two schools Otterbein and Wilmington College. Wilmington is the newest member to the Ohio Athletic Conference who came in the year 2000 replace Hiram that left in 1999. As I worked today I discovered that all of these schools combined have had some huge projects and renovations to their athletic facilities over the past several years. It is not even those schools that have been the most successful but those that have not been quite successful at all that are investing millions of dollars into these facilities. Looking at Wilmington College’s newest sports facility today intertwined an athletic facility with its academic core. They spent a little over $10 million on this new facility but made sure that it included state of the art classrooms and labs for learning as well. Most of the other facilities were sports related only, not that there is anything wrong with that but it was nice to see a school that was using part of their new facility for sports training in the classroom as well. When I come back in tomorrow I will do a quick update on Ohio Northern’s recent updates and then most likely start to look at some surrounding schools to see what kind of upgrades they have done, a lot like Tiffin and their indoor football facility that they have built.
Today wraps up my first month with Ohio Northern University. I am still working on finishing up the renovations project and still have two schools left to look over but have been very excited looking back on my first month’s experience. I have learned a lot over the past month. I have learned that at this level where Director of football operations position do not exist that the head football coach has more than just x’s and o’s on his plate. The amount of time he spends booking flights, hotels, and making other accommodations for just recruiting is unreal. Then add on the amount of time it takes to plan a trip such as the upcoming trip to Utica to kick off the season. Every little detail must be accounted for when planning these trips. Much like I did when I had to decide on a hotel. I had to look at a little things like what is the best exit for the buses to get off at, are those exits easy to get back on, and is it a difficult drive to the hotel, how accessible is the parking. All these little things matter and I am so happy that I have been given the opportunity to do this, because doing this kind of work is right up my alley.
I am still working through the schools. It is a long and tedious process. I am looking through the schools website, local newspapers, and alumni magazines. I am basically trying to utilize any information I can find. The most important part of this is to see what the schools are spending on each project that they are completing. What I am finding so far is that schools like John Carroll have spent millions to reconstruct their football stadium, Don Shula Stadium, to bring it up to date with new technology, locker rooms, and weight training facilities.
What I am noticing is that this industry, college athletics, is becoming an arms race to see who can have the top tier facilities to attract the top tier talent. Even at the Division III level were hardly any money is earned, the alumni are wanting to see these sports programs excel and they are wanting help build these facilities for the athletic teams. While so far the school is not the one footing the bill for these renovations it is impressive to the amount of money that the alumni base has been donating in order to meet and exceed these hefty goals.
Today I researched more schools in the Ohio Athletic Conference to see what kind of renovations or projects the athletic departments have accomplished over the past several years and are working to get accomplished now. The goal is to compile a spreadsheet of everything each school has done so that Ohio Northern can compare to what they have done and what they are wanting to do. Like I stated yesterday, I believe that one of the goals is to construct an indoor football facility.
Looking over all of the renovations to this point, and I’m only completely done with about 3 schools, Ohio Northern has fallen behind some of these schools. Ohio Northern did build a new football stadium and constructed a new soccer field as well but it has been over 20+ years since they have done anything with the sports complex they currently have or their basketball arena. By compiling this list and data I am hoping I find enough information to provide the Athletic Director and Coach Paul to encourage the school to start a fund raising goal in order to improve not only the existing buildings but to build new ones as well.
As I went in today to meet with Coach Paul and go over what I will be working on this week, it was clear that school is winding down. The students are starting to filter down and the maintenance crew is working to get things setup for graduation.
However, when meeting with Coach Paul he went over what I will be working this week. This week I am focusing on the schools in the OAC and what facility upgrades they have done in the past few years. While nothing was confirmed, I believe that Ohio Northern is wanting to keep up to date with state of the art facilities in order to keep attracting top tier talent.
I first started looking at what Mount Union and all of the renovations they have done over the past several years. They spent around $17.3 million on one facility and this did not include the upgrades to the football stadium and track. Then I started looking at a couple of other schools, Heidelberg for example. They spent like $5.1 million on a new stadium and upgrades. So this will be what I am working on this week while at Ohio Northern and will hopefully find good information to present to Coach Paul so that he will be able to use that same information to present to the Athletic Director.
Well we have everything accomplished with the hotel and with the proximity to the two colleges done with. I am waiting on the contracts in my email and will hopefully have them by tomorrow to send on to Coach Paul. Today I am spending the day researching two other areas for schools to stop at so that we can possible do another meal swap along the way and while we are at Utica.
While searching the Erie, Pa area I found absolutely now colleges or universities that used the same food service so I decided to expand my search a little to the north and little back to the west. I started in the Buffalo area because it was not that much further from the Erie area. I called around at least 10 different schools to see what food services they used and unfortunately none of them used the same food service. So I decided to go back a little west toward Cleveland. I checked with 5 different schools around the Cleveland area and had zero luck with any of those schools either. So with zero prospects around those areas I decided to focus on the Utica area.
From talking with the offensive coordinator the previous day I had found out that Utica College actually uses the same food service as Ohio Northern. I thought to myself that this is great but what if they would not let us use the dining hall because of privacy reasons since we are getting ready to play them in football. So I decided to look around the area and found another community college that used the same food service so now at least we have a backup plan in place in case Utica would say no.
This concluded my week at Ohio Northern and I will be back in next week looking for something new and exciting to do. While others around me say what I am doing sounds boring, I laugh and tell them that this is actually very exciting because I am getting to setup the travel plans for the team and save the University money at the same time by negotiating great deals for them.
Today I had the contract from the Hotel emailed to me to finalize everything and close the books on this part of the trip. However, there was a change of plans. Coach Paul informed me that the team will be practicing at the University of Rochester and then wanted to know what schools used the same meal service as Ohio Northern.
Unfortunately for me this led to my first mistake. I had found a school that used the same service and relayed the information. However, upon further investigation this particular school only used the service for grounds keeping and not food service. My first lesson on doing my work thoroughly before answering questions. Thankfully, I quickly redeemed myself and found a school that was only 2 miles away from the University of Rochester.
The new problem was that our hotel was about 20 minutes away from both schools. This is a problem because of the time it would take having to travel back and forth. With a contract in hand from the hotel we had decided on, it was time to trash that and get back to looking for a hotel closer to both locations. Thankfully I had kept all of my information during the hotel search and all of my contacts as well. It only took about 10 minutes to realize that my first suggestion for a hotel, even though it was more expensive, was right beside the two colleges in which we would be using.
I quickly met with Coach Paul to show him what I found and gave him a quick refresher on the rates they had offered. The rates were $119 with breakfast and $104 without. A quick reminder, I had to call this hotel yesterday and tell them that we had decided to go with another hotel in the area. Well, I was quickly back on the phone and had told them that our plans had changed and needed to be closer to the University of Rochester and wanted to know the best rate that they could give us without breakfast. Within an half an hour I had a response of $94 a night and an offer from the business manager to go shopping with me to get bagels if necessary for the team.
I met with Coach Paul again to go over the new rate for the hotel and the proximity of the two college to the hotel. He quickly pulled up the hotel on the internet and looked over the rooms and property and then looked over how close both colleges would be to the hotel. The last thing he wanted to know was if we would be able to have a meeting room if needed and to have the contract sent over. I was back on the phone and confirmed that we would be able to use a meeting room in needed and asked to have the contracts e-mailed to me.
Coach Paul and I had narrowed down our options last week to a couple of different hotels and today is the day we decided on a hotel. We had decided on a particular hotel that would provide the team breakfast and only charge $95 a night for the stay. While the breakfast situation was not the ideal situation we were looking for this was the best deal that we were offered.
My job for the day was to contact the hotel, finalize any details, and confirm the number of rooms, rates, and insure that enough staff would be available for breakfast so that we were not wasting time waiting around for food to be made. I contacted the hotel and confirmed everything that we needed for the arrival of the team on September 8th and that the breakfast needs would be met along with the conference room being opened up for the players to eat in as well.
Once done with that I needed to look around the area of Erie, PA, Rochester, NY, and Utica, NY for any colleges or universities that used the same food service company as Ohio Northern University. I was doing this in hopes that we could do a meal swap with another university so that it would save the athletic department extra costs for food.
What I am quickly finding out is that at the Division III level that every dollar spent must be spent well and that you need to look for savings where ever you can in order to keep stay within the budget. At small schools the money for athletics is scarce and you often have to be very creative in finding ways to save money and to raise money.