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Volume 27 No. 10
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Former ADs Talk Pressure Of Job With Greater Social Media Influence

Former N.C. State AD Debbie Yow said the instantaneous nature of social media can be dangerous
Photo: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
Former N.C. State AD Debbie Yow said the instantaneous nature of social media can be dangerous
Photo: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
Former N.C. State AD Debbie Yow said the instantaneous nature of social media can be dangerous
Photo: MARC BRYAN-BROWN

A group of former ADs lamented the increased pressure that social media is putting on current ADs, with some going as far as designating social media as the direct culprit for the high levels of stress in the top role. Former Virginia AD Craig Littlepage, speaking on a panel on Day 1 of the '19 Learfield IMG College Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, said with new forms of tech and social media, “you’re never out of the eyesight of the different stakeholders and constituencies.” Littlepage: “When I would talk about my job as an athletics director with our alumni and friends of the university, I would always say the best thing about my job as an athletics director is that I get a lot of free advice. So on Monday after a home football game, offense, defense, recruiting, parking, transportation, concessions, coaching staff -- whatever it is -- it’s incoming and it is many times fierce. And when you think about the job of coach, it’s probably all of that plus the day-to-day work with the student-athletes of keeping them in a place where they are productive in and out of the classroom, the community, etc. It’s just this all-consuming nature of these jobs in the current environment.”

EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME: Former Tennessee AD Dave Hart agreed with Littlepage. “Social media has changed our world, but it has dramatically affected this profession,” Hart said. “You have to remember that it’s not just the person in that role. It’s the spouse, the partner, the kids. They’re hearing it and it’s hard. The pressure is real and everybody who’s been in or who will be in this profession is readily understandable that that’s the reality. But it’s also the reality that it’s really hard.” Former Pitt AD Steve Pederson reinforced that belief. “I’ve always kidded that when you’re an athletics director, you have the only job that every single human being in the state thinks that they can do better,” Pederson said. “We laugh at that, but it’s true. It’s a very unique position, it’s a great job. But I think what’s happened now is that the pressure has gotten to a point where everything we’ve heard people talk about so far today, whether it’s student-athlete health and wellness or whether it’s the FBI, or gambling or whatever the issues may be -- they are all a result of the pressure. People can only take so much pressure. There is a point at which it’s just too much.”

NOT JUST STAFF: Pederson continued, "One of the biggest concerns I have is that the pressure is getting too great for everyone, including the student-athletes. Everybody wants to win and that is a tremendous goal. But there has to be a way to have a reasonable amount of pressure in these situations so that people don’t act differently. Because when there’s pressure, people do things that they would never do under any other set of circumstances. And then later on, they look back and say they shouldn’t have done that." Former N.C. State and Maryland AD Debbie Yow: “It’s an enhanced pressure. People are so quick to say horrible things in a way they shouldn’t be saying it. I’m always amazed at in social media what people are willing to actually say. Sometimes I look at it and go, ‘I wonder if that person actually has a job. Do they have a boss? Do they worry that their company will see what they just said on social media?’ When that didn’t exist, you had to do something called write a letter. Well, you calmed down before you wrote the letter. But it’s so instantaneous now. Whether it’s a tweet or a text or whatever social media that you’re using.”