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Navigating Staff Transition And Attrition In College Athletics

There are two sides to every coin. I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase. Maybe someone was reminding you to take someone else’s perspective. Or maybe you were looking for the bright side in a tough situation. Or sometimes you just want to know if you are going to kick or receive in the first half.

Staff changes in college athletics are no different. Sometimes people transition into a new role, expanding their opportunity and impact and growing their career. And sometimes, like was all too common in 2020, it’s a furlough or staff reduction to meet the demands of the economic environment due to a global pandemic. While I hope the latter is short-lived and we soon know days without furlough, it’s certainly brought about a lot of change.

These staff transitions can create challenges, but also opportunities for those who remain. Challenges for who will take on the additional work or how things will get done when that person has always done them. Yet there are opportunities to learn new skills, work with new people, and expand work experiences.

I see this dynamic so often with the collegiate athletics staff we partner with and here are 3 learnings to prepare for and seize the opportunity from these changes.

 

Passion is as important as position. 

Do you have someone in your department who is passionate about impacting and engaging student-athletes or alumni? Someone who understands the importance of mentorship and connection? Long Beach State reached out to their Associate Athletic Director of Ticketing and Fundraising to lead their efforts and found immediate return on his passion and connection to former student-athletes. While Cal State Bakersfield took the opportunity to leverage a strength and empowered their Marketing team to digitally connect with student-athletes and share meaningful updates on their athlete network.

 

Who knows your current student-athletes better than your current student-athletes?

Student-athletes are inundated with information from compliance to practice schedules. Having a centralized hub to consume information is key to staying current and no one knows that better than the athletes themselves. Washington State University works directly with SAAC to ensure athletes get what they need. Interns are driving content for Arkansas State current student-athletes while gaining critical experience as they transition from college athletics to the workforce. Clemson University saw their Graduate Assistant gain valuable skills and experience while supporting former student-athletes and then transition into an Assistant Director position for IPTAY, one of the most successful fundraising organizations in collegiate athletics.

 

Find and foster a champion.

Target one sport and utilize the staff to help connect and engage athletes. West Virginia University leans on their Associate AD for Football External Affairs to share team news, updates from the coaching staff and resources for alumni through their network. Purdue Fort Wayne is engaging their alumni women’s softball players through the Head Coach and her staff to reconnect former teammates and share successes from the current program.  

Is there anything more certain than change these days? The key to creating lasting success is finding awesome people within your department and arming them with tools that can help them connect with your current and former student-athletes. Marry that with proven best practices, former college athletes who have years of experience working with schools and associations, and a partner who understands your goals while working side-by-side with you to achieve them and you’ve got a winning combination.

And how do you know it will make an impact? We can help you track success through metrics and data that show how your athletes are engaging with your resources and the return on investment for your efforts. Take a look at the success of our partner, Penn State. They created a space for meaningful engagement between alumni student-athletes as well as with their program, which resulted in endless ways for them to stay involved as well as give back. Isn’t that what we all want as current and former athletes?


For more information, visit www.athletenetwork.com/colleges-universities or schedule a free overview to see how you can unleash the power of your athlete network.