FORT WAYNE – Theyre waiting for him in a back room at Biaggis, all the people who will make or break Bill Scholl. Heres his mens volleyball coach, Joel Walton. Heres his mens basketball coach, Billy Taylor. And over here, and here, and here, too
Donors. Alumni. Primers of the pump without whom, make no mistake, there is no pump.
Bill Scholls the last guy whod have any illusions about that.
He wore a lot of ballcaps at Notre Dame in 23 years, but the one that got the most tattered with wear might have been the one he wore for what he calls resource acquisition – i.e., selling the product that was Notre Dame athletics. And so, when he wasnt raising the profile of the womens basketball program or the baseball program or Notre Dames Olympic sports, he was selling tickets and promoting games and putting together the corporate partnerships that are the fuel for big-time college athletics here in its Era of the Arms Race.
And at mid-major schools such as Ball State, where Scholl landed as athletic director in April?
Well, hes here at Biaggis, isnt he? And pretty much right on time?
This just has to be such a big piece of what we do at a MAC school, Scholl said Monday. Weve just got to continue to try to increase on the revenue side so we can reinvest in the programs.
And if thats true at a place like Notre Dame, its doubly true at a mid-major such as Ball State. You can go out and beat a Big Ten school (Indiana) and a Big East school (South Florida) back to back on the football field, but you cant sustain that without, as Scholl puts it, reinvestment. And you for sure cant build up every other athletic program, a task thats a lot harder at Ball State than at Notre Dame, for obvious reasons.
With Notre Dame, there was a culture around athletics where success on the fields is really important to people, Scholl said. Its a long-term thing, and it involves sustaining success over a number of years. And I think thats what we need to do.
So, yes, hes here in Fort Wayne this day, because there remains work to do long term and its time to get cracking on it. Facilities are a big part of that, Scholl says; he has eye in particular on the schools baseball/softball complex, which he says are subpar at a MAC level.
I think we need to address that, and we are trying to address that, he said. Youre trying to grow, youre trying to be competitive, youre trying to give your student-athletes the resources they need to succeed and the tools they need to be successful. And you need to create resources to make that happen.
Its not incumbent on the fans to do this. Its important we provide the product to them that makes them want to be involved in our program.
As an example, simply because of whats happened the last two weeks, Scholl points to Pete Lembo and the football program. He jokes that Lembo could make it easier by not taking every game down to the last snap, but he has no issue with the results.
I think thats a perfect example of how you come in and you change the program and you change the culture around the program and develop the kids, Scholl said. I think we have a lot of coaches on our staff who have that mentality. I give Tom Collins, my predecessor, credit. I think he hired some very good coaches.
I think we just need to continue to give them the tools they need to be successful. Its amazing what results you get when you raise the bar a little bit.
And so here he is, right on time. Raise away.