July 1, 2010
This is the latest installment of our monthly feature called, "Ask the AD." If you have questions for Saluki Director of Athletics Mario Moccia, feel free to submit them by e-mail.
Regarding the factors you use in evaluating coaches at the end of a
season, you didn't list a couple of points that I consider should be at
the top of the list, such as:
- Did the coach adapt to the abilities of his players and team?
- Did the players mature and develop strong team character during the season?
Do you counsel coaches on these factors during ongoing seasons?
In last month's "Ask the AD" column, I listed several factors in the evaluation process, but for space purposes, certainly not all of them. An evaluation is completed over the course of the entire year, from pre-season all the way through the recruitment process and posting of final grades. The University has a standard evaluation tool that is not specific to coaches, so we incorporate coaching-specific factors into the formal process. Your comments of team dynamics, synergy and player development are certainly ones that are brought up in each coach's evaluation.
Will you be having an open house for the new stadium and arena before the first game in each?
We will certainly have an open house for the general public for all of the new and renovated facilities. We are in the process of determining exactly when those will be. With the stadium, arena and support building taking shape, we are extremely confident of an on-time completion, but I have been involved in these projects before, and work often takes place up to the very last minute. We would want all areas clear and safe before a general public tour takes place. We will announce the public tours as soon as we can.
Have you thought about putting two, large bronze Saluki dog statues on each of the upper balusters at the top of the stairs leading into the Arena?
Yes, there are two Saluki dogs that will be placed on the pillars at the top of the stairs leading into the arena. These will be large dogs and look very impressive adorning this area, but they will actually be made of cement, rather than bronze. We are also considering several options for the main gathering area at the bottom of the stairs. One of the options is a bronze Saluki statue, although we haven't determined yet what would work best in this area.
What will become of the old turf at McAndrew Stadium?
For at least the short term, the turf will remain in use for our track & field program as well as the recreational sports department. When and if the track is relocated, we will evaluate our options. It's worth noting that the turf, which was installed in 2001, has already exceeded its predicted lifespan. Illinois State and Youngstown State installed similar turfs around the same time, and they had to replace their fields several years ago. Since the turf is technically owned by the state, we would have to make sure that whatever we do with it, if anything, is allowed under University and state law.
Thanks for your leadership to expand SIU as a wonderful school of learning as well as bringing the athletic program to national prominence. Based on your experience in the Big 12, what is your opinion of the schools jumping ship to the Pac 10 and Big Ten? Is this strictly a financial move or are there other factors? Are there ramifications for SIU or the Missouri Valley Conference?
I believe first and foremost revenue was at the forefront of these moves. The Pac-10 and the Big-10 offer more money, and schools at those levels need every dollar to keep up with the Joneses (the University of Texas AD was famously quoted as saying, "We are the Joneses."). Also, I believe there was almost a "run on the bank" mentality in which schools were scrambling for deals in case the Big 12 collapsed. Now that movement has subsided, there wasn't really that many moves (Utah, Boise State, Colorado and Nebraska) in the grand scheme of things. Certainly more than normal but not a tectonic shift. Other factors were probably Utah moving to a conference with an automatic BCS bid and Boise State moving to a more high-profile conference (the Mountain West) which is making a case for an automatic BCS bid.
I don't see too many ramifications for SIU and the MVC, other than we need to be wary, in my opinion, of the formation of the super conferences. The men's basketball tournament at-large bids are already on the decline to non-BCS schools, and the NCAA is considering eliminating track and field regional qualifying events, which would impact our ability to compete directly against BCS schools to qualify for the nationals. It's reminiscent of the model of many years ago when they had the University and College Divisions, except this time it would be the BCS schools and then everyone else. Either way, it isn't going to take place this year or next, so schools of our size have some time to evaluate the landscape and make the best decision we can for our programs.
Why is football not included in the All-Sports trophy standings? It seems that the marquee sport of any conference should be included.
When the league name was changed from Gateway Conference to Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2008, it was considered more of a re-branding effort, rather than inclusion into the MVC. I think the reason the MVC considers it a separate entity is because five of the MVC schools do not have football (Drake plays non-scholarship football in the Pioneer league). I will keep pushing for its inclusion, as women's soccer is counted and they have seven league members, so there are no clear guidelines.
I noticed on the web cam that the logo at the 50 yardline is the "SIU" instead of the dog head. Is Athletics moving away from using the primary logo? If so, will it be replaced on the football helmets, also?
I wouldn't go so far as to say we are phasing out the dog head logo, because I know it is a popular seller on merchandise. I just don't think it shows up well on our helmets or as a field or court decal. After four years as director of athletics and traveling the country, I can say that we are widely known as the Salukis. That's why we used the spelled-out "Salukis" mark in the end zones. We decided to go with the SIU bullet on the 50 yard line, as this is the favorite of the coaches and something that is never going to change over time.
Our football helmets will remain the same this year, but a change could be forthcoming for the 2011 season. Coach Lennon will have the most input on these discussions.
Will there be a "grand opening" of Saluki Stadium or dedication ceremony prior to the first home game?
There will certainly be dedication ceremonies prior to the first competition in both facilities. These dates have not been set yet. In addition to these events, we will have tours for the general public, but those would be later, after all the work is officially completed, so we don't interfere with practice and game preparation. We will let the general public know when these tours will be scheduled and will do multiple events in an effort not to miss anyone.
I see schools building practice facilities for their basketball teams. Do you think our teams need one? Would they gain an advantage on other Valley schools by having access to such a facility?
Our team could use one, but I don't think a lack of a separate practice facility places us at a competitive disadvantage to other Valley schools. At SIU Arena, we can have three full courts when the seats on the side court are retracted, which is great for practice and camps. In addition, we have access to Davies Gym and the Rec Center in emergency situations, so the coaches, facilities staff and I are comfortable with what we have at our disposal.