Last week the University of Guelph announced that Scott McRoberts will be the new Director of Athletics, replacing Tom Kendall who retired prior to Christmas.
The Gryphons.ca story announcing his hiring contained lots of the nice words you expect to find in those types of things – extensive search, breadth of talent and experience, passionate and engaged leader, academic experience, et cetera. That is all necessary and good. But the key points for me …
McRoberts has spent more than 12 years in strategic management and fundraising with universities, national sport organizations and municipalities throughout North America, Whiteside said.
At UTSC, McRoberts … expanded participation and revenue generation activities, and developed key partnerships.
Previously, he worked with Stanford University, the University of San Francisco, San Jose State and the City of San Francisco, and was executive director of the Niagara Sport Commission.
And from McRoberts’ own statement …
“… the opportunity to continue to work with a department that has the reputation and reach of Guelph’s athletics is a genuine honour. I look forward to working together with the team to build on the already strong Gryphon foundation. I am also excited to be working at an institution with such a strong commitment to student development and community engagement.“
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The Guelph Mercury’s Tony Saxon provides some additional information in his story last week – University of Guelph names its next head of athletics – including …
- McRoberts, 36, has spent the past four and a half years as director of athletics at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus.
- The resume includes two years as executive director of the Niagara Sports Commission, four years as a private consultant and lecturing stints at Brock University and Niagara College.
- McRoberts is a new breed of athletic director, one whose job extends far beyond governing on-campus athletics, facilities and varsity programs. These days, making corporate and community partnerships is a huge part of the job.
- “He’s also had great experience generating revenues through third-party partnerships, donations etc., so that was very attractive to us as well,” Whiteside said.
“Athletics at the U of G is already highly visible, so now it’s more a case of ‘how can you leverage that in terms of the broader community?'” she said. “He has some really good ideas on how to move athletics up to that next level.”
- A former varsity tennis player at Brock, he was an assistant coach with the U of T tennis team.
- McRoberts said the first challenge will be finding a place to live for his family, which includes his wife, two young sons and a bull mastiff named Lambeau, as in Lambeau Field, home field of the National Football League’s Green Bay Packers.
“I’m a big Green Bay Packers fan,” he said in explaining his dog’s name.
- McRoberts graduated from Brock University with a degree in sports management. He completed his master’s in sports management at the University of San Francisco.
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A few more of my random thoughts and personal opinions regarding this hire:
- I love it! A “new breed of athletic director” is exactly what I wanted. To me that means someone with experience outside of coaching and working in a university athletic department. And, that means someone who already has experience with fundraising and who can tap into corporate dollars via partnerships, sponsorships or whatever you want to call it.
- His emphasis on “community engagement” beyond just the campus makes me think he will embrace the partnerships that the Department’s Marketing Guy, Dave Easter, has already put in place with Guelph Minor Hockey, Minor Football, Women’s Hockey and most recently, the local basketball association. Hopefully there will be more $upport for the marketing of all Gryphons sports.
- For me, that means a real effort to sell football tickets beyond the campus, like the Quebec francophone schools and University of Saskatchewan have done. And how about selling the naming rights to Alumni Stadium, or the field within. A million dollars over X number of years could be a big boost to the football program and the Athletic Department.
- The fact that McRoberts is a Burlington native, and most of his family are in the Burlington/Waterdown area, is perfect. Less chance he will want to leave to return to his home town, province or state, or his alma mater.
- McRoberts relative youth, and the fact he has only been an A.D. for 4+ years, is a positive, not a negative in my books. Moving up to a school with as comprehensive an athletics program as Guelph will be the type of challenge that should keep him engaged for many more years.
- I like that McRoberts’ credits Tom Kendall with leaving a solid legacy … “it’s nice to come into a program that has such a strong foundation.”. He also seems to understand that the goal is, as VP Brenda Whiteside put it, to take UofG athletics “to that next level.”
- From a football perspective it is great to hear that McRoberts is a big football fan. His name meant nothing to me when I first heard it, so to hear the excitement of FoGF President Randy Dimitroff when we first talked about it was great. Dimitroff had met McRoberts a couple years earlier. McRoberts has already committed to attending several upcoming Friends of Gryphon Football events.
- Finally, there is the fact that McRoberts was hired at UTSC in 2011, meaning that he worked under current UofG President Franco Vaccarino. Vaccarino was a VP of the UofT and Principal of the Scarborough campus before he replaced Alastair Summerlee at Guelph. I have no idea how big a role, if any, Vaccarino played in this but there is no way McRoberts lands this new job without the blessing and support of Vaccarino. That is a good thing for Athletics in my opinion.