Kim Record is in the car and on her way to catch people on the
run. In other words, a perfectly normal, challenging, energetic
In this case, UNCG’s athletics director is traveling to a Spartan cross country meet in Virginia. Tomorrow, it will be volleyball back in Fleming Gym. In between, thoughts and plans and chats about academic achievement, fund-raising, community service and competition will fill the time.
Before she started this job two years ago, the former deputy AD at Florida State tried to avoid assumptions on what it would entail. Probably a smart move there.
“In some respects, it has been harder,” she said, reflecting on her tenure so far. “I never thought in my first 18 months I would have to make decisions like eliminating a sport. I did not know we’d have to replace three head coaches.
“At the same time, having been in the business for 20 years now, I know that’s the nature of the job. And the good things outweigh the negative on almost any given day.”
Periods of intense change are part of the UNCG athletics story. Two decades ago, Record’s predecessor, Nelson Bobb, oversaw what was at the time the fastest transition from Division III to Division I in NCAA history. The more recent reformation hasn’t been that sweeping, but it didn’t come with an announced timetable, either.
The most difficult moments came this past spring with the termination of a successful wrestling program, a cost-cutting move effectively compelled by a stagnant economy and the UNC System’s decision to rescind tuition breaks for out-of-state athletes. The cost of doing business went up by hundreds of thousands of dollars annually with one action.
At around that time, the UNC System announced cutbacks across the board at its constituent institutions.
“It was a hard decision,” Record said, “but at the same time, what is most important is to look past the short-term pain – and there is significant pain across the campus right now – to ensure the long-term success of the athletics program and the institution.”
Men’s soccer, historically the university’s flagship program, had change with the 2010 retirement of Michael Parker, who built upon UNCG’s Division II history by making the Spartans consistent players in the Division I tournament. Then relatively new to the job, Record didn’t feel a full national search was appropriate. She promoted assistant Justin Maullin to interim coach for the 2010 season and watched him take a struggling team to the Southern Conference championship.
This search wouldn’t have to be a search.
“Going into that, I was not (initially) convinced he would be the candidate, but I had to remind myself that’s why you give people the opportunity to be successful,” Record said. “Giving him that opportunity was the right thing to do.”
Maullin was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year and the Spartans’ full-time leader in a matter of two weeks late last year.
A few weeks later, Eddie Radwanski, having guided the women’s soccer program to SoCon supremacy for a decade, fielded an offer he couldn’t refuse from Clemson. This one did produce an external look, and it ended with the selection of Steve Nugent, with whom Record had worked at Florida State.
In the past couple of weeks, Nugent’s Spartans ran off four SoCon wins and jumped 41 spots in the RPI. Their sub-.500 overall record is a reflection of one of the nation’s toughest schedules.
Women’s basketball coach Lynne Agee, a constant of 30 years who built widespread respect for herself and the Spartan program, retired after last season. Wendy Palmer, a former Virginia assistant, was selected in April, and she brings with her an interesting resume item: She has scored more points in the WNBA than any of the other current Division I coach with service time in the league.
Record is overseeing the implementation of a four-pronged mission statement for UNCG athletics, and early returns are encouraging.
• On the field, 13 of 18 UNCG teams improved their Southern Conference standing from 2009-10 to 2010-11. The overall winning percentage in two-team, head-to-head games improved from 47 percent to 57 percent in that time.
• Record said progress has been significant toward the goal of a 3.0 grade-point average across all sports. All 18 teams received satisfactory grades from the NCAA in APR, the real-time measurement of progress toward a degree, in a report released in June. A school-record five teams were cited for excellence in four-year APR.
• Community service by Spartan athletes is now charted by a department-wide competition that has teams dispersing over the Triad for various ventures. Men’s golf, which had one of its best seasons in history on the course in 2010-11, was the inaugural champion in the internal community-service challenge.
• Record has reorganized the department to create a fund-raising chief within the administration. He’s Craig Fink, most recently of Eastern Michigan University, who came aboard in June.
Record isn’t a big proponent of what she calls gimmickry in fund-raising, but one concept is paramount in her approach.
“A gift to a program is not a transaction,” she said. “Someone who gives money to provide scholarship support is providing more than just dollars.
“The good news is that while the economy is difficult for everyone, we have a young alumni base and we have an opportunity.”