Life on the Lake

"A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable." -William Wordsworth


April 2016

An Interview to Remember: Welcome to Athletic Administration

Photo Credit: dishfunctional via Compfight cc


During the past week, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview the Senior Associate Athletic Director at North Carolina State, Sherard Clinkscales. He also happens to be the new Director of Athletics at Indiana State University.  He gave great suggestions and comments on the athletic administration industry.  The following are questions and answers that were discussed over the phone interview.

What is a typical week like for you?

Mr. Clinkscales: “You know, everyday is different.  I start out the day by returning emails, I often address different injuries to our athletes or I meet with our athletic director and answer any questions that they may have for me.  Everyday is different.”

Tell me about a project that you worked on and are especially proud of.

Mr. Clinkscales: “I was able to help implement the Wolfpack Leadership Academy, where we were able to bring in different speakers who talked about different aspects of leadership.  The leadership academy picked upcoming leaders from the teams and put on workshops throughout the year to help the students grow.”

What do you do to keep current in the athletic administration industry?

Mr. Clinkscales: “I talk to my colleagues, I stay in contact with the connections I have in coaching and administration, I read, things like that.”

What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in athletic adminstration?

Mr. Clinkscales: “Nothing, I wanted to get out of athletics, but getting out helped me appreciate how fortunate I was to be a part of athletics.. You don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s a good thing.  Maybe it is smarter to go a different route outside of athletics, which could make you well rounded.”

How important is writing in your career?

Mr. Clinkscales: “Writing is very important.  You are always in communication with others through email, so sounding professional is crucial.”

What three tips would you offer someone just starting off in athletic administration?

Mr. Clinkscales: “Be open and don’t make any assumptions about salary.  Don’t do it if you are just trying to be affiliated or just think it is cool, it has to be your passion.  It is important to remember that it is about the student athletes, not the title.  Don’t let money be the driving force.  The profession is bigger than the University.  Be hungry and willing to work.  Pay cuts may happen, but if you are passionate that will not matter.”

After interviewing with Mr. Clinkscales, I am much more likely to pursue a career in athletic administration.  Talking to him and hearing the passion in his voice really helped assure me that this is what I want to do.  I do not fear the monetary aspect of my career because I truly want to be able to help student athletes and uphold a universities name.  I think that could be the most rewarding aspect of my career.



Leaky Pipes: BP’s Oil Crisis

Oil spill
Photo Credit: tubblesnap via Compfight cc

In 2010 the Gulf of Mexico was the site of a massive environmental tragedy: The BP oil spill.  After 87 days the spill was stopped, but only after leaking 3.19 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  BP had a crisis on their hands, and John Kimberly of CNN believes BP blew their crisis management operation.

Instantly there was one problem with how they handled the crisis: they took too long to acknowledge the severity of it.  Some may ask, how can that be?  The CEO of BP claimed that he was out of the loop about what was happening on the oil rig.  Another mistake that they made was how they failed to empathize with the families and individuals who died or whose lives were put in danger.  Kimberly believes that because of those issues, management lost most of their credibility and drew an extreme amount of anger.

So the question now becomes, what could they have done differently?  For starters, the CEO is the face of your organization in times of crisis.  They must know how to deal with the media and the PR side of a crisis.  The media can be brutal when it comes to organizational crisis, so any missteps must be avoided.  In other words, they should have been prepared to act “swiftly and empathetically” during their time of crisis.

Another more difficult way to handle the crisis may have been a well thought out and carefully planned exit, as sometimes that can be the only option.  The CEO of BP was under heavy fire from the media and had caused extreme outrage throughout the country.  Kimberly acknowledges that the CEO is a very good executive in many ways, but after all of the outrage that he seemed to cause he hurt BP and he is now “baggage” to the company.

Recently BP has come out and tried to mend the bridges that they burnt, and have even started to acknowledge that they handled the situation poorly.

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