Oct 242011
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Editors Note: This story was originally published in the Collegian on Oct. 25, 2011

Meet Paul Kowalczyk –– the person in charge of all aspects of CSU’s athletic program as the university Athletics Director.

He’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 doesn’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. “USA Today” released an article on Oct. 5 titled “Demands on college ADs resemble CEO challenges,” describing the changing nature of the position.

“Back in the day, it was kick the coach upstairs, and they become the athletic director,” Kowalczyk said. “That certainly isn’t the case anymore. Presidents and universities are looking for more business-oriented individuals.”

As more money becomes entangled in the world of college athletics, the emphasis on an athletic program’s revenue stream has changed dramatically.

Kowalczyk received a degree in accounting from Kent State University in addition to a masters in sports administration.

“The money is greater, the risk is greater, and the pressure is greater because of that. The stakes are higher,” Kowalczyk said. “More 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 you’re not taking care of business in a proper way.”

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.

“When athletic issues give the university a black eye, it hurts, and I think all presidents want to avoid those situations,” Kowalczyk said.

And as athletic directors’ list of things to worry about increases, so too do their salaries.

The position’s compensation is expected to increase nationwide as much as head coaches’ salaries.

According to CSU’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 it’s not without good reason.

“Paul 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,” 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 CSU’s 370 athletes for more donors.

“Every athletic director wants to graduate their athletes and give them the best experience that they can,” he said. “That 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.”

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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