DRESSED IN ORANGE and shades of black, Scott Barnes was officially welcomed today to Oregon State University as the new vice president and athletic director. University president Dr. Ed Ray was on hand to introduce Barnes to the same position he held for just under two years at the University of Pittsburgh. During the conference, Barnes revealed a little bit about himself, his family, and his goals for Beaver Nation.
Whether he intended to or not, Barnes demonstrated that he’s more than just an experienced professional and executive. He’s also an amicable family man that appears able to use a sense of humor even when taking things seriously.
Shortly after his introduction, Barnes was quick to introduce his wife and his sense of humor. He quipped that he appreciates a multi-year contract from Dr. Ray because after 28 years of marriage, his wife, Jody, was only willing to commit to him on a year-to-year basis. He also revealed that as fate would have it, they own a dog named Benny that will need mentoring from Benny the Beaver.
Unfortunately, as Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi alluded to recently and publicly, Barnes confirmed today that the timing of the move was partially influenced by health concerns within his family. Barnes elaborated that because he was born in Spokane, with family stretching from Northern California to Washington and everywhere in between, right now was a window of opportunity he didn’t want to miss which allows him to remain an athletic director while being near his family.
As for his goals with the University, Barnes continued to reiterate that the University’s primary focus is the academic success of their students, including student-athletes. He remarked that generally speaking over the course of the next 100 days or so, they will be formulating and implementing an assessment mechanism to provide them with a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. That analysis is meant to include athletic programs, staff, coaches, student-athletes and fans. Once that analysis has been formulated, then, Barnes says, he will look to make changes where necessary.
Of the general terms in which he spoke, the new athletic director outlined four areas he will be immediately focused on.
Academics. His focus will not only be to ensure that students are achieving good grades while attending Oregon State, but also tracking student-athletes after graduation to ensure they’re able to succeed in their chosen fields, gainfully employed.
Competition. He agreed with Dr. Ray on the key point that not only was Oregon State University currently moving in the right direction, but that they wanted to continue and expand as a competitive force inside the PAC-12 and with other Power 5 Conferences.
Revenue. Barnes was reminded that he had been recognized as efficient in his spending, to which he recalled a study completed by Texas A&M where he and his program at the time had “won the National Championship” of efficiency when calculating dollars spent to sports championship earned. Barnes quipped he’d rather be rated as 20th in efficiency if that’s what it takes to win more. Then he also stated that he plans to develop new revenue streams, and get creative while doing so.
Fan Experience. Yes, fans, too. In Pittsburgh, fans had the opportunity to apply to be part of a 20 person panel called the Panthers Fan Experience Committee. The way Barnes talked about ensuring the quality of experience for Beaver Nation, I wouldn’t be too surprised if something similar is put in place here in Corvallis.
In all, the news conference was short. He arrived amid of team of people, and almost immediately left after a handful of questions. But from beginning to end, Barnes seemed to carry the same message he carried in his time at Pitt. He wants what is best for the students, the athletes, the university and the fans. He officially begins his duties on January 13th. If he can implement the same tools, and accomplish the goals he’s willing to establish, he will continued to be welcomed by all for a long time to come.