Athletic Director Candidate Visits
Oberlin’s first candidate to interview for the Director of Athletics was Jeremy Gibson, who visited the campus on Monday. Gibson is currently the Associate Director of Athletics at Harvard University. he met with several faculty members, staff, student athletes and Oberlin citizens to discuss the present status of Oberlin’s athletic program and the role he might play in its future.
While answering questions from the audience, Gibson addressed various issues ranging from those facing homosexual varsity athletes to those of intramural and club sports, while answering questions from the audience. One question posed was whether or not Gibson felt he could handle an athletic department with so many intercollegiate programs with consistent losing records.
“We don’t need to have outstanding programs, but we do need to give students the opportunity to achieve excellence on and off the field of play,” stated Gibson.
Gibson acknowledged that there is room for improvement, but making unachievable goals is not part of his style.
“[I would not] create false expectations, bring them [potential recruits] in and not live up to that promise. It’s not something I want to do. Although we offer more co-educational sports than any school in the country, Harvard has become over-institutionalized and very focused on winning,” Gibson noted.
Gibson compared environments like Oberlin to those of Harvard.warmer environments. The liberal arts education gives students a better knowledge of how to relate better to people.”
A question was asked about sexism and homophobia in a hyper-masculine environment. Gibson spoke about a recent symposium held at Harvard about gay athletes coming out. He said that his goal at Oberlin would be to make an atmosphere where everyone is welcome.
The issue of quantity over quality was also talked about at the meeting. A women’s basketball player asked whether Oberlin students possibly had too much to do to fully commit to their programs.
“As long as athletes were representative of the student body, it would help in the long run to maintain a positive relationship with faculty and non-athletes,” said Gibson.
Instead of just trying to reach a high goal within individual programs, Gibson thought it would be more efficient to also keep intramural and club sports. Like many diverse institutions, Oberlin has a program that maximizes the athletics offered, allowing a wide range of recreational needs to be accommodated. A problem cited by Gibson was that financially the sheer number of sports compared with money allocated always leaves a certain number of parties wanting more money.
Gibson also discussed coaching and his evaluation process for coaching staffs. He used his current school as an example.
“[Harvard had] a semester by semester feedback form that must be filled out by athletes that helped to evaluate coaching talent.”
Another question regarded what he could add to Oberlin’s athletics that no one else could. Gibson cited his creativity as what makes him a unique candidate for the position. He described a number of projects he worked on at Harvard to improve facilities and find ways to get money without adding financial constrain or concerns. He also described his knack for using other departments as partners in projects.
“[I] sourced out past the athletic department to complete facilities projects and found an old construction fund with 35 years of interest on it to make it run.”
Gibson seemed confident in his ability to handle the position. He is only the
first of multiple candidates interviewing for the position of Athletic Director.
Whoever fills the position, it remains to be seen what the new direction
Oberlin’s Athletic Program will take beginning in Fall 2006.