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Laying the bricks: The Brad Bates legacy

The Rieger Report

Sports Editor

Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 12:10

Integrity.

If you asked athletic directors, coaches, educators and players around the country to describe Brad Bates, this would be the first word that comes to mind.

In fact, Miami University President David Hodge refers to Bates as “Mr. Integrity” and Miami athletics have become synonymous with the word.

The RedHawks’ former athletic director, who accepted the same position at Boston College last week, epitomized what college athletics is supposed to be about.

Bates’ accomplishments speak for themselves: increased graduation rates, multiple championships and facility upgrades. But these accomplishments do not show how Bates truly impacted the college athletic landscape.

Bates has always been focused on how to improve the student-athlete experience through winning championships and excelling in the classroom, and his dedication to this vision shined at Miami.

Athletic programs have become increasingly reliant on winning and on turning a profit. Student-athletes are now increasingly evaluated by how much money and publicity they can bring to their school.

Despite these factors, Miami has stayed true to its mission. The athletic department accomplished success the right way.

Bates was a driving force behind this.

Very few athletic directors are as well respected as Bates. This is why he was nominated last year as the president of the Division 1A Athletic Directors’ Association.

Bates has had numerous opportunities to move to bigger athletic programs throughout the country, and yet he stayed at Miami for 10 years, over two years longer than the average athletic director tenure.

Bates believes in his programs. He believed in Miami’s vision of athletics. He believed in emphasizing the “student” in student-athlete.

The athletic director position at Miami is arguably one of the hardest collegiate athletic jobs in the country. Not only is the director expected to foster student development and enhance performance in the classroom, but they are also expected to win championships with limited resources. Very few schools maintain these high expectations.

It is difficult enough for programs to remain academically eligible while hiring and retaining the best available coaches, but to do this on an extremely tight budget is nearly impossible.

Yet this is exactly what Bates excelled at.

Five years ago Bates began the “Culture of Champions” strategic plan, during which time Miami has increased student-athlete graduation rates and increased the number of athletic championships. In addition, Miami had its three best fundraising years in the history of the athletic department during this time.

The biggest challenge facing Miami’s next athletic director will be resources. Miami does not have the fundraising or facilities of some of its competitors, and yet the RedHawks are competitive in nearly every sport every year.

Visionaries like Brad Bates are few and far between.

Bates is a one-of-a-kind athletic director who struck as close to a perfect balance as anyone in the industry of winning on and off the field.

Miami’s search for its 16th athletic director in school history is already underway, and will likely be decided within the next few months.

Let’s hope there is another “Mr. Integrity” around the corner for the Red and White.

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