By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal
Following a press conference Monday morning announcing the hiring of Ryan Ivey as the new Texas A&M University-Commerce athletic director, the Herald-Banner sat down with Ivey to ask some additional questions.
You are taking over a program that has had a lot of issues over the past five years, anything from poor performance on the field to off the field incidents. There is a culture here with the students and community that has been built and informed by these issues. That is a tough thing to change; how do you begin?
I think the first place to start is by going out and talking to folks. In today’s college athletics landscape, you can’t just sit in your office. Every athletic department has tons of unique stories to tell, and it is our job to get out and tell those stories. We need to tell the community that we have great student-athletes, coaches and staff members who all care about making this place better. This is not my university; this is our university, and I really want folks to understand that. This about wrapping our arms around the community, getting folks involved and bringing them back in the fold. You’re exactly right, people have a perception, and from a distance, it will stay that way. But if you can bring people in and have them meet our student athletes and have community events that get them involved, you begin to change that mindset. What I know is minor league baseball — we’re going to have fun at our events, and have events around those events.
Would adding a baseball program be something you would be interested in pursuing?
I think we have to look at the whole organization’s dynamics to see where we are. If that’s an opportunity for us to grow this place and make it better, then that’s something we will have to explore. If there is a huge interest, then we can rally some folks and get some funding. One thing you have to do, if you add sports, is make sure you’re not hurting your current sports.
The Lone Star Conference has seen a dramatic decline in membership over the past five years. The remaining schools are well-funded, tough athletic programs. Would you be interested in looking at pursuing a different conference?
I’ve been in the conference for a whole 48 hours, and right know I’m excited about being in the Lone Star Conference. Right now, I don’t know. I think the Lone Star Conference is a good fit for us. We have to get better. You have to be competitive in whatever conference you are in. It is my job to move us in that direction and become competitive — whether it is more funding, better facilities, etc. We have to compete for championships, and we are going to compete.