June 12, 2018
Marie Tuite shares her perspective on what happened in her first year as San Jose State University's director of athletics and what lies ahead for the Spartans.
If you were limited to five highlights from your first year as San Jose State's athletics director, what would they be?
a.) Well, graduation and retention rates continue to improve and the credit goes to our coaches and academic staff.
b.) I'm excited about the launching of the "All In' campaign dedicated to the advancement of our football program.
c.) Thanks to the efforts of the Thawley family and in particular, Trevor Thompson, this past year we had the ribbon cutting for the new tennis courts, and the Phase I of the softball facilities.
d.) Securing the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic was a huge highlight for our department and our University.
e.) Finally, watching our year end "highlight" film was my apex moment....check it out here:
If there were any disappointments you experienced as San Jose State's athletics director, what are they?
Certainly we can all agree that our football, men's basketball and women's basketball programs need to be more competitive. We need to provide more value to the Mountain West as a conference and those sports can be the vehicles for doing so. Trust me, those head coaches know they have to be more competitive and I'm confident we will see better results. No excuses.
Also, I was disappointed I didn't spend more time with some specific sports. In particular, swimming and diving and women's track and field. I was present at the NCAA Track Regionals when Destiny Longmire qualified for Nationals in the long jump. She is such an amazing young person...so very proud of her.
But, I need to find time to go to more practices, to attend team meals and simply be more visible to some of our programs. It's important student-athletes see the Athletics Director and I want them to know I care deeply about their experience here.
Lastly, we had hoped to get a track built for our awesome women's track and field program and our men's cross country program, and it didn't happen. We're working hard to secure private funds to get it done, but it's been disappointing.
San Jose State is undergoing an unprecedented facility make-over on the main campus and the South Campus. What is the upcoming schedule for completion of facility projects for the Spartans?
Every day we spend time dealing with South Campus facility projects. Obviously, the championship tennis court and spectator area for the Mubadala Classic is the top priority with the event beginning in late July.
Since you were named director of athletics, can you describe the internal and external collaborations involving San Jose State Athletics. It seems like there are more people, individually and collectively, taking a stake in the program.
I sure hope so....and, having been here eight years, I do see a renewed excitement in what we're doing. Bottom line is we have to get more people invested in our Athletics program. And, it's imperative that we continue to do it the right way. We're working hard to get more people engaged. With the formation of the new Athletics Advancement Unit and the rebranding of the Spartan Foundation (more news about this August 1), we are creating a new "fervor" regarding Athletics.
Certainly we want winning programs, but if you have "winning" coaches and staff that are committed to the values of the University and you invest in those programs, people will want to be a part of your efforts. It's an exciting time for Spartan Athletics.
The size of the athletics budget can be interpreted many ways. Where does San Jose State stand budget-wise with its athletics program in relation to other Mountain West schools and of programs similar in mission and in scope. For the budget to increase, what has to happen and is it achievable?
We're last in budgets in the Mountain West and everyone pretty much knows it. So, we can whine about it or roll our sleeves up and get to work. It is what it is and I'm not wired to be last in anything. So, as Coach Brennan says, "'Let's Go'...get off the bench and get in the game."
Come support us and help us make a difference. We need people to invest in our values and our mission in order to be more competitive within the Mountain West.
What has it been for you, a person with many years in college athletics, to be the athletics director at a NCAA FBS school heading into the second year of your tenure? Were there any surprises either positively or negatively.
To be honest, I'm a bit surprised how much I love my job. That might sound funny because the job is so demanding, but I really do love being an Athletics Director. There sure are some really hard days. However, every single day I pinch myself, because I get to be the Athletics Director here at San Jose State.
I never thought I'd be an Athletics Director. These jobs are hard to get, especially for women. And, every day I thank President Papazian for giving me this chance.
What do you spend the most work time on in a given week? Do you plan to make any significant changes schedule-wise?
This isn't just a job, it's a way of life. I'm so thankful for my senior staff, the coaches and the staff I have the opportunity to guide. Most Athletics Directors, at any Division (level), spend their time on personnel issues and resources. Managing, hiring, evaluating and mentoring staff takes a tremendous of time, and spending time fostering relationships and getting or keeping people engage is a never-ending job. Simply put, Athletic Directors manage people and raise money.
You've shared a lot of information and San Jose State activities specifically on Twitter. Do you plan to add other social media platforms as a means of sharing the San Jose State story and is your social media activity similar to what other NCAA Division I athletics directors do today as part of their job?
Social media platforms are crucial to increasing the awareness of Spartan Athletics. And, there are so many ways to do it. I see the devices my sons use to interact on a daily basis and marvel at the ways in which they receive information. I am a bit "old school" and like the traditional web site story and even the Mecury News and the Sunday New York Times. But, clearly, having a presence on social platforms is important as we share the exciting things happening at San Jose State.
What is the best way for people to contact you with thoughts and ideas on how San Jose State can be better in any facet identified with college athletics?
People are pretty good at finding me....and, I do try and answer every email I receive....the positive ones are easy. However, I respond to the ones that wonder what the heck I'm doing, too.
A couple of my mentors would say "don't answer the negative ones....they don't have the whole story." But, fans and donors are writing because they care about Spartan Athletics and they want us to be better. So, I believe I should honor their opinion, even if I don't agree. What's somewhat comical is that I usually do agree with them.
It's been an incredible year for me, and I'm looking forward to future successes and challenges. Spartan Up! Let's Go!!
You can write Marie Tuite at email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @SjsuTuite account or office number 408.924.1730