Southeast's candidates for athletic director -- Michael Waddell

Sunday, December 14, 2008
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Michael Waddell speaks Friday at a public forum for the athletic director position at the University Center.

Background

The 39-year-old current senior associate AD at Cincinnati began his professional career with broadcasting and marketing in the ACC. He worked at Appalachian State and the U.S. Military Academy before accepting an associate AD position at Akron in 2001. He worked there for nearly five years with Mike Thomas before joining Thomas' staff at Cincinnati in February 2006.

Personality

Waddell described himself as "high energy, creative, think outside the box."

"I think I have a very strong work ethic," Waddell said, "and in the words of my director of athletics ... he was very kind to describe me in a recent forum as one of the more creative people he's been around."

What is your first priority?

"Reaching out to the donor base and letting them know that there is a new vision that is about to be crafted for Southeast athletics. To bring back in what was at one point a 3,000-person donor pool and may have shrunk under a thousand. We'll call it 'Project 4,000.' I don't want to just to get 3,000 back. I want to grow that. That will be the first order of business. ... And we want to make sure that everyone feels that their opinion is valued."

Given the economy and the fear of "donor fatigue" for athletics, what will be the approach to raising funds?

"I think you look at all the events that are done right now and you look at them and see what the return on investment is. Just because something that has worked in the past doesn't mean that it won't be continued in the future or that it will be. We have to make sure our donors are being valued, that they have a personal, significant and unexpected result whenever they deal with us."

On making football at Southeast be competitive in the OVC

"There's no reason why Southeast can't contend for an OVC championship if the University of Cincinnati can contend for a BCS bowl and Big East championship, if the University of Akron can contend for a MAC championship. It takes a vision, it takes the experience of taking these programs to a championship level."

With this as a season in limbo, how do you deal with men's basketball?

"Obviously, the situation is one that will take a great deal of careful examination, but one that in the end will yield the realization that this is still the best city in the OVC, it's still one of the best arenas in this part of the country, the people are passionate, success has gone on here before, so making the right moves now ... that's the challenge that is exciting.

Asked about steps for this year, including contact with coach Scott Edgar: "You have to be proactive. You want to reach out and make sure that first and foremost the student-athletes' needs and welfare are being take care of. This is 25 percent of their college career and you want to make sure this season finishes well."

With so much emphasis on rebuilding football and men's basketball, how do you approach the other sports?

"I am the sport oversight over men's and women's golf [at Cincinnati]. ... I was the tennis supervisor for a while. I had men's and women's track and field for a while, and now I've given that up in favor of men's and women's swimming and diving. I have men's soccer. ... The way you focus on all the sports is you realize that you have some sports that are going to get more attention, but it doesn't mean that their student-athletes are any more important than the ones on the other teams."

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