In April, Mark Brown joined Pace University after an 18 year tenure in the athletics department of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. While there, Brown was responsible for the administration of a $32,000,000 annual operating budget and helped develop a football program that effectively brought the sport back to the Old Dominion campus after a 69 year absence. Here, he sits down with Opportunitas to share some of his secrets to success and ideas for helping Pace make it in the big league.
You have a fiscal background, having managed Old Dominion’s $32 million annual operating budget—how will you apply your experience to Pace’s athletics department?
I believe the search committee selected me because of my fiscal management experience. What this indicates to me is that Pace would like to run their athletic operation like a business. I have spent the majority of my professional career managing growth from a business perspective and feel I am uniquely qualified to help build the program by standardizing policies and procedures, reviewing organizational structures for appropriateness, and developing funding strategies that will maximize their returns.
What are some areas in the athletics department that you’d like to focus on?
I am hopeful my efforts will improve the student/athlete experience, standardize the business practices, enhance the financial position of our department, and enhance the visibility of Pace University. I also wouldn’t mind winning some more games!
What are your top three priorities for this year?
Right now I am trying to gauge and learn the culture of Pace. I firmly believe that the committee selected me because they want to grow our program. If they didn’t want to grow the program, why would they select an individual who has extensive experience in this area? My first priority this year is to educate all campus constituents as to how athletics can help the University. It sounds fairly simple, but it is amazing how people never completely put the puzzle together. As a department, we most certainly bring in tuition dollars with the student-athletes we recruit, but it goes beyond that. We should be a vehicle for enhancing the college experience for all students, faculty, and staff by giving them a team to cheer for. We enhance the campus sense of community and school spirit by doing so. Hopefully, these good experiences and memories will encourage future support when they are alumni. Secondly, I need to review all business and budgeting practices. Having fair and realistic guidelines that are appropriately articulated and funded is essential to holding people accountable for their responsibilities. Lastly, I want to proactively look at Title IX and see if we can establish a long-range strategy that will aid in our compliance in this area.
How important is community support for athletics at Pace?
It’s nice, don’t get me wrong but I think the more appropriate question is, how important is Pace Athletics to the community? We don’t generate significant dollars from ticket sales or sponsorship revenue—no Division II school does. However, we do help the community by providing quality and clean athletic facilities for community use (Goldstein Fitness Center comes to mind); we provide family friendly entertainment for very little cost at our games; we provide exposure opportunities for local business looking to expand their customer base;and we provide year-round athletic instruction and summer programming for the youth in the community. Not to mention the coaches and athletes who volunteer in local schools and other community service activities throughout the year. It is without a doubt a partnership that works well for all parties.
What are some of your hopes for the future of Pace athletics?
I am extremely competitive. I am convinced that with a renewed perspective and some sound financial investments, we can be much more competitive without losing our focus as an institution of higher learning. Ultimately I would like Pace to be standard by which other Northeast 10 teams and Athletic Departments are judged.
For more information about Mark Brown, please see the Pace University press release which can be found here.