Editors Note: This story was originally published in the Collegian on Oct. 25, 2011
Meet Paul Kowalczyk â€“â€“ the person in charge of all aspects of CSUâ€™s athletic program as the university Athletics Director.
Heâ€™s the one who hires and fires coaches for all sports at the university, including basketball, cross country, football, golf, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball and water polo.
But his to-do list doesnâ€™t stop there. Kowalczyk schedules, promotes, manages the facilities and prepares the budget for all university sports.
This list may grow longer, as athletic directors around the nation, including at CSU, are experiencing a change in their job description. â€œUSA Todayâ€ released an article on Oct. 5 titled â€œDemands on college ADs resemble CEO challenges,â€ describing the changing nature of the position.
â€œBack in the day, it was kick the coach upstairs, and they become the athletic director,â€ Kowalczyk said. â€œThat certainly isnâ€™t the case anymore. Presidents and universities are looking for more business-oriented individuals.â€
As more money becomes entangled in the world of college athletics, the emphasis on an athletic programâ€™s revenue stream has changed dramatically.
Kowalczyk received a degree in accounting from Kent State University in addition to a masters in sports administration.
â€œThe money is greater, the risk is greater, and the pressure is greater because of that. The stakes are higher,â€ Kowalczyk said. â€œMore universities have recognized what athletics can do for the university in a positive way, but also how it can hurt you in the negative sense if youâ€™re not taking care of business in a proper way.â€
Ohio State University and the University of Northern Carolina, for example, have experienced embarrassing scandals involving impropriety on the part of head football coaches and the suspension of key players, which have reportedly led to decreases in donations made to their athletic programs.
â€œWhen athletic issues give the university a black eye, it hurts, and I think all presidents want to avoid those situations,â€ Kowalczyk said.
And as athletic directorsâ€™ list of things to worry about increases, so too do their salaries.
The positionâ€™s compensation is expected to increase nationwide as much as head coachesâ€™ salaries.
According to CSUâ€™s salary database, in 2006-2007, Kowalczyk was paid $225,000. That number increased to $259,875 in 2008-2009, marking a $34,935, or 15.5 percent increase.
And itâ€™s not without good reason.
â€œPaul is the first AD (athletics director) who has been able to engage our entire university in the need to help CSU Athletics catch up with the rest of the Mountain West as far as facilities, budgets, staffing, etc,â€ said CSU volleyball Head Coach Tom Hilbert.
But despite mounting pressure to establish a secure revenue stream, Kowalczyk refuses to trade the well-being of CSUâ€™s 370 athletes for more donors.
â€œEvery athletic director wants to graduate their athletes and give them the best experience that they can,â€ he said. â€œThat has to matter first. We want to give the university a positive image and a good name, as well as doing right by our student athletes. Athletic directors take those issues to heart.â€
Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.