April 30, 2008
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.
Will the Salukis in the future play more games at Rent One Park? Are there future plans for lights at Abe Martin Field?
We have discussed the possibility of more games at Rent One Park in Marion internally and with Minors' officials. We wanted to see how one game went before we looked at making a commitment. I think it makes a lot of sense for the Illinois game, and also when the weather outlook is poor and we feel a game might otherwise be cancelled. At the end of the day, our true home field advantage is at Abe Martin Field, and we want to play the vast majority of our games there. Taking a few to Marion does allow us to expand our footprint for our fans and allow us to take advantage of their amenities (scoreboard, suites, etc...). We have plans for lights at Abe Martin, and Jason King our Associate AD for Facilities and the administrator for the sport of baseball, has contacted several companies to ascertain the exact costs. We are currently looking for a donor to assist us in making this project a reality, while at the same time fundraising for Saluki Way.
There seems to be a big difference between professional and college sports regarding information about injuries. Pro teams release information immediately, whereas in the world of college sports rumor and innuendo seem to be the standard procedure. Are there NCAA rules which govern this topic? Does SIU follow these guidelines or have even more stringent rules of their own which are followed?
I have discussed this with Assistant AD for Sports Medicine Ed Thompson, and he tells me that all athletes, whether professional or collegiate, fall under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) with regards to release of injury information. Professional leagues can set policies regarding the release of injury information, and that is probably negotiated into their collective bargaining agreements with the players. There is no NCAA policy on injury release. There are several important factors a school must consider, though. For example, some athletes are minors and still have parental involvement. There is also the issue of gambling, which is a big concern at both the NCAA and institutional level.
Is there money in the budget to send our coaching staff to coaching clinics? Just like any other job, I believe some continuing education would pay dividends for the program.
Yes, several of our coaches attend or instruct at regional and national coaching conferences on a regular basis.
It is frustrating every year to hear Coach Lowery's name being associated with every open coaching position from a BCS school, even those with a lesser basketball tradition than SIU. I was also very disappointed to see Keno Davis bolt after only one year from Drake. I guess my point is that it seems college coaches view the Valley as a minor league system for the BCS schools. What specifically can you and the other ADs around the league do to minimize this?
Not sure if the MVC is viewed as the minor leagues -- perhaps by some but for sure not by all. Our league schools do not have the budgets that these BCS schools, so it is always going to be something that we need to live with and accept. At SIU, we have tried to offer a salary that is competitive with some of these schools. I am not saying that we will be able to keep Coach Lowery forever, but we make it possible that even for schools offering to double his salary, he can wait for a "dream job" to open rather than any BCS school with deep pockets. One of our donors made an interesting observation when he said "when other schools stop wanting our coach, we won't want him either." Now, this may be a little harsh, but I look at the fact that we have Chris Lowery and are able to retain him as a big positive for our program. Plus, our rival, coach Dana Altman, has shown us that coaches in our league can ultimately turn down the big dollars. When he decided to stay at Creighton when Arkansas came calling was a very good thing for our league.
Does the athletic department have a policy about how athletes should groom their appearance (hairstyles, facial hair), or is that left up to the coaches?
The athletic department doesn't have a blanket policy on appearance. These policies are set through the individual sports teams and head coaches. I like to give that flexibility to our coaches, and where it has the opportunity for different teams to be treated differently, it allows the team to reflect the desires of their specific head coach. My one rule regarding appearances is that our student-athletes never wear gear that promotes another university. I saw some of this when I first got to SIU, not too much, but immediately made it known that pro jerseys were ok but no gear of any kind from any other university.