The right way

Feb 172002

What a difference a urinal can make. I’d met Jeff Hathaway, CSU’s new athletic director, on a couple of occasions after he first arrived back in September, but had never really chatted with the man.

Can’t exactly say I was used to “chatting” with athletic directors in the first place, really. I was used to the stoic, shy and seemingly aversive Tim Weiser, the man Hathaway replaced.

Yeah, Tim would give you a nod of the head, maybe ask you where the phone was, but he never really seemed to care how life was treating you. Not that I expect my AD to be my best buddy – just that Tim always seemed more like a face than a person.

Needless to say, I was expecting much of the same out of Hathaway.

That was until that fateful day in the McGraw Athletic Center’s third floor restroom. I’d finished doing my business and was starting to wash my hands when in walked my new favorite AD.

“Hey there, Reed!” he proclaimed cheerfully. “You think we can pull one off against BYU this weekend?”

Initially overcome by shock, I got myself together enough to offer a response about the upcoming volleyball game: “I hope so.”

“Well, they’ve been on a roll- you just keep announcing them to victory and I’m sure we’ll be just fine. Take care now.” Wow.

The man might have just spent the last 11 years in the frigid cold of Connecticut, but he has the warmth of a Savannah sweet potato pie.

I love Jeff Hathaway. Not just because he’s passionate about athletics and cares about his department and all the people in it. Because you can TELL he’s passionate.

He’s a man who looks everyone in the eye – even a lowly Collegian columnist and volleyball P.A. announcer like me – and asks what’s new. He cares.

And while I’m sure Weiser is a nice guy, in the two years I was an intern in the sports information office, mere PACES from his personal office, he never introduced himself. Perhaps more telling is the fact I never felt comfortable enough to introduce myself to HIM.

Weiser went about his business and really did play a large role in bringing national prominence and respect to CSU sports. But he never had enough “good ol’ boy” qualities in him. He never really seemed like a guy you could have a beer with.

The comparison that pops to mind is Bill Clinton/George Bush back in ’92. Bush did a fine job, but that was all he brought to the table. Clinton, for all his moral shortcomings, seemed like someone you could talk to.

That said, I love that when I’m visiting the sports information office, it’s not an uncommon sight for my buddy Jeff to wander in and ask, “Hey, what’s the deal with this Q’doba? Everyone goes there all the time. Pretty tasty stuff?”

I love that when senior Emily Darger forgot his name while introducing him to speak at the CSU volleyball banquet last month, Jeff stepped up to the podium and fired back: “I just hope you can remember (fiance) Logan (Dean)’s name when you’re at the altar.”

I love that the man steering our athletic department feels as comfortable chatting with a columnist in the men’s room as he does members of the administrative staff in a board meeting.

Guess the whole point is this: I look at Jeff Hathaway and I don’t see the CSU athletic director. I see Jeff.

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