This will be a unique and challenging year for college athletics, says new interim director of athletics at SUNY Oswego
By Lou Sorendo
Q.: You have served as associate athletic director since June 2014. How does this experience help you in terms of transitioning to your new post?
A.: After six years as associate athletic director, I have a good understanding of SUNY Oswego, the athletic department, and how the school operates. Having that institutional knowledge will make it easier to take over as interim AD; however, there is still a lot to learn.
Q.: Are you interested in pursuing the job without the “interim” part of the title, and what is it going to take to achieve that?
A.: At this point in my career, I am not pursuing an athletic director position, so I will not be pursuing this position on a permanent basis. I am more than happy to help out the department temporarily, but I do like my current position as associate athletic director.
Q.: You coached the crew program at Hamilton College for many years. How did that experience help in terms of growing your professional career?
A.: Being the rowing coach at Hamilton was a unique experience. It is one of the few programs in the country with one head coach for both men and women. We regularly had 40 to 50 athletes on the team and for most of my time there, I had one part-time coach helping me. Now, most coaches like to have a lot of control over their teams and I was no exception. However, given our numbers, I quickly realized that having a hand in everything going on was not feasible. As a result, I became much better at delegating and giving responsibility to my assistant coaches and captains of the team.
Q.: What do you believe will be the keys to being highly successful in your new post?
A.: This will be a unique and challenging year as we come back after the COVID-19 pandemic shut us down in March. I think the key for me will be to get buy-in from the coaches and staff to work within the new reality we are facing. Coaches I know, and I was one, do not like change. However, this year will be all about change, even if temporary. Being able to have the department adapt and work under different rules and constraints will be very important if we are going to be successful this year.
Q.: Besides COVID-19, what do you see as some of the foremost challenges facing athletic directors across the nation at this time?
A.: Budgets are always a concern for athletic departments, especially at the Division III level. Costs always seem to be rising faster than revenues and it is a challenge to provide a great student-athlete experience with limited means.
Q.: In general terms, how will the new normal in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic change the playing field when it comes to college athletics?
A.: I think it is too early to tell what lasting impacts COVID-19 will have on college athletics. We still have to go through at least one season to see what will change in terms of practice and play. However, one area I think may change is the recruiting process. Our coaches tried to be as creative as possible this past spring with their recruiting and I think there will be more virtual recruiting in the future.
SUNY Oswego recently named Eric Summers interim director of athletics. The 52-year-old New Haven, Connecticut, native was hired as SUNY Oswego’s associate athletic director in June 2014. Summers, who earned his bachelor’s degree at Colgate University and Master of Business Administration at Syracuse University, leads a 24-sport athletic department. He resides in Fayetteville with his wife Robin and two sons.