The Times West Virginian

Sports

June 19, 2014

McNeely: Staff is up to the task for future

FAIRMONT — Fairmont State University’s athletic director Tim McNeely recently marked his first year on the job, and he has been faced with difficult decisions including budgets, where to help find talent, his program’s success and leaving an old career behind.

What’s the most difficult thing you have had to deal with as athletic director?

It’s all relative, but a lot of it has to do with funding and decreasing dollars on the state level. I was asked by the president to serve on our internal budget oversight committee this past year. We were asked to figure out how we were going to handle reductions with our budgets — each department. Each department shared in that accordingly. And I think the athletics portion of that was about $103,000 or $140,000 that we had to reduce in the current year. On top of that there had been a situation in the athletic department operation a little bit beyond their means. I arrived on April 1. When the time we finished the school year, the athletic department had overspent by about $280,000, just in that fiscal year — 2012-2013. That was difficult to figure out a way to overcome.

I don’t want to call that a matter of overspending. As you can see, there’s not a whole lot of new construction or anything like that going on. It was money used to travel, recruit, clothe, feed and equip the student-athlete. It was all needs, but we had to figure out a way to get that spending back in the black. And at the same time to figure out a way to reduce our current budgets, given the state’s current reduction mandates.

That was difficult this year, but I’m happy to report there has been a Herculean effort by this entire department and our coaches to finish this current fiscal year by not overspending. We will meet our current needs and put a little bit back in to our reserves. That was about a $400,000 turnaround.

We did that by allowing our various coaches and our various teams to have more access to their budgets and the ability to operate financially and responsibly. To empower them to say, here’s what your budget is. Figure out a way to operate within that budget just as you and I do in our homes and our personal lives.

We’ll finish this year having managed finances in a positive manner. They met the challenge and did that. That’s not to say there weren’t difficult times this year to figure out a way to reduce costs, cut corners and spend less and at the same time to cut corners and spend less while at the same remaining competitive in traveling and eating and all the things we have to do.

I’m proud that the coaches have met that challenge this year, and we’ll finish this year by having managed our finances in a positive fashion.

Do you believe junior college talent is necessary for a Division II team to be a winner?

I don’t know that I know the answer yet. I’m still learning about that kind of thing. But from my personal experience, I played Division I basketball. I know there are certainly good athletes out there who still have a couple of years of eligibility left and who could extend their career by transferring to a four-year institution. In a perfect world you would like to bring in freshmen and see them go through four years.

Are you satisfied with the won-lost records of your teams as a whole?

I see a lot of positive direction. The last time I checked the standings of the Commissioners Cup, which covers all the sports, Fairmont State was in eighth place. To me, what I want is for Fairport State to be at the top of that list year in and year out. I know that’s pie in the sky, but I think we have the institution to do that. We have the leadership to do that, and we have all the necessary elements in place to make that happen on a yearly basis. We’re going to keep pushing that as best we can. Bring in student-athletes accordingly and hire coaches as necessary and be more competitive. We have to be more competitive.

Do you miss your career in golf and the PGA?

I do. I miss my place in the PGA Tour. It’s about a 10-year place I had on the PGA Tour which is now Web.com. I made a lot of great friends out there; players, caddies, player managers, PGA Tour administrators. I miss the interaction and the time getting ready for a tournament.

It’s a different world. In that world you are working the entire year to get ready for one week. In this world we are constantly working to be competitive throughout the school year. You get to spend time in the summer to prepare for our fall sports. I do miss it, but I absolutely love the challenge we have here. I’ve always had the itch to get involved in college athletics, and the opportunity presented itself here at Fairmont State.

It’s great for my family as well as the opportunity for me to become involved in the college sports scene at this institution.

Do you have any plans to drop baseball?

No. At this time we have no plans to drop baseball. We’ve made some changes within that program to bolster that program. I think the move to the Bridgeport Recreation Complex and that facility they have allows our program to grow a little bit and showcase that program to a bigger audience.

First of all, we would like to have a baseball stadium right here on campus. That’s not possible or feasible at this time. But given Harrison County and Bridgeport and the number of students we have from that area, and the fans, it’s a natural tendency to try to grow in that area, specifically in baseball.

We played most of our home games there this past season.

Email John Veasey at jcveasey@timeswv.com.

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