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Volume 25 No. 27
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Recent AD Hires Stress How Important The First 100 Days At New Jobs Are

UNLV’s Desiree Reed-Francois, Alabama’s Greg Byrne and Florida’s Scott Stricklin all joined the ’17 Learfield Intercollegiate Athletic Forum yesterday to discuss how each went about their first 100 days as AD at their respective schools. Stricklin expressed a firm belief that the situation at the school dictates the correct approach. When he took over at UF after previously serving as Mississippi State’s AD for six years, he knew he was walking onto a campus with a particularly rich and proud athletic history. He said, “Make sure you come in in a way that’s respectful of past success. You want to make people feel good about you early on, but I needed to show them I appreciated what they’d already done.” Byrne said he spent the majority of his first few months simply listening and getting to know people. Byrne: “The staff didn’t choose me, the President did. So I needed to give them a chance to see if we could work together. ... Go meet with every head coach, meet with every department head. ... I get done with those and I’ve maybe spoken for a minute. I found that I’ll learn a lot more that way.” Reed-Francois went about it a little differently from her two peers, choosing to live in a campus dorm for seven weeks to better understand the student-athlete experience. Reed-Francois: “Great idea in theory. Really grew to appreciate my bathtub at home after that.”

MAKING A FIRST IMPRESSION: Byrne said winning the initial press conference is "more important in today’s world than it used to be." Byrne: "Setting the tone for the right manner going forward helps internally with your staff, and externally it’s a test for how the fanbase is going to feel about you. Take it as an opportunity to show you connect with people.” Stricklin: “I was incredibly nervous. It’s important, though it’s short term. ... That said, if you don’t perform well in that first presser, you’re missing an opportunity to help your university.” Reed-Francois saw her first press conference as an opportunity to make a personal connection with the UNLV fanbase. She said, “My brother broke his neck playing football, and that’s the reason I do what I do, so student-athletes can have the experience he didn’t get to complete. That was hard for me to talk about, but I thought I had to share that for people to know who I am and why I’m here.”

THOUGHTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Byrne uses Twitter for three reasons: to communicate, engage and have some fun. He said, “It humanizes you. And I think it can help fans give you the benefit of the doubt a little bit.” Stricklin: “Social media is like money, it’s neither good nor bad, it’s how you use it.” Stricklin admitted it took him years to get over outside perceptions from fans. He added, “You have to train yourself to ignore the outside noise. Social is an incredible tool, but all the noise can come back to you. I had to go on a social-media sabbatical during this [football] coaching search.”

FRIEND OR FOE? Asked how they identified potential allies or obstructionists with university influence in wake of the recent events at Tennessee, Stricklin said the ability to read people is “one of the most important skills a leader of any organization has.” He said, “You’ve got a lot of people when you walk in that door ready to hand you their business cards. The ability to process with just a handful of clues who’s in this for themselves, who’s in this for the right reasons, who just wants access -- those are really important decisions you have to make in a short period of time.” Stricklin went on to say that what happened to John Currie at UT was “beyond unfortunate, it’s a tragedy.” Byrne: “You have to be able to know you will be the athletic director.” In regards to UT, Byrne said from the outside looking in it “looked like the rope was getting pulled in several different directions.”

Quick Hits:
* Byrne’s biggest mistake in the early going at Alabama: “Said yes to too many things.”
* Stricklin, on the Yankees putting managerial candidates through the media carwash: “Could limit your pool.”
* Reed-Francois, on the overall pressure of serving as AD: “It’s like you’re running for office with no election date.”