Q&A With Ben Broussard: Transitioning To A New Role and Institution

July 9th, 2018 | by CollegeAD
Q&A With Ben Broussard: Transitioning To A New Role and Institution
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Ben Broussard

Change in any aspect of life is often necessary to grow both professionally and privately. The same holds true in college athletics with that change happening frequently. Often times it involves uprooting your family and moving to a new institution in a completely different part of that country. Ben Broussard, Colorado’s new Assistant Vice Chancellor/Associate Athletic Director recently experienced that change, moving from LSU where he had spent his entire career, to Boulder. Transition can often time be scary, but a necessity as professionals in collegiate athletics look to grow and take on new challenges. Broussard recently sat down with CollegeAD to discuss his decision to leave his home state for a new challenge at the University of Colorado. Ben Broussard discusses his transition to Colorado, as well as several new initiatives he is working on in Boulder.

Editors Note: The Q&A below has been edited for clarity.

CollegeAD: So transitioning from LSU, south Louisiana, to Colorado, how has that been and what brought about the change?

Ben Broussard: It’s been a great transition for us. A big move for our family. I got here in October, my family arrived in January, that was difficult for me. Once the family arrived, things were perfect. The school system and the kids in it were very welcoming to our children. Professionally I was very fortunate that Rick George and Deb Coffin took a chance on me, brought me to Colorado to expose me to some things I was not getting to touch at LSU.

CAD: From a fundraising standpoint, when you take a new job in a different place, you’ve spent your entire career in Louisiana, are there different tactics you’ve had to use or different ways you’ve had to go about connecting with folks?

BB: The culture of Baton Rouge and Boulder are very different. Boulder offers so many recreational and cultural opportunities that you may not see in the SEC. It is a beautiful and special place. With the Rockies right behind our campus, we have some of the best skiing in the world. As a result, successful people relocate to Colorado specifically for the quality of life and the recreation. And it makes plenty of sense once you get there.

When things are great in Colorado, like they were in the 90’s when Darian Hagan and Coach McCartney were leading the Buffs to a national championship, the Buffs topped the list of things to do on a Saturday in the Fall. When you don’t put sustained winning together, other options grab people’s attention. We are working hard to build relationships to support the rise back to prominence.

We went through a major facility project that was significant for us, the SEI project. As that project winds down we are working hard to maintain and grow our annual donor base. Fundraising, in general, is not a whole lot different at CU vs any other school. Our fundraisers will continue to work to build genuine relationships with our fans so that we can increase our base of support.

Ben Broussard

CAD: Student-athlete well being in general has become a very hot topic, a very important topic. At Colorado, you all are working on two projects, first dealing with mental health and then a project to help student-athletes transition into the workforce after their playing careers are done. Talk a little more on that.

BB: We are currently raising money to benefit student-athlete mental health as well as Leadership and Career Development.

Our Athletic Director, Rick George, has made it part of the department’s mission to improve the care our student-athletes get while in Boulder. We have grown our department from one to two full time, in-house mental health professionals. This gives us an opportunity to spend more time with the kids to help prevent what we can, or to treat what needs to be treated. There is no doubt in my mind that the dollars we raise for this program will have a major impact on our athletic department for years to come.

The second piece is that far too often in our student-athletes exit interviews they tell us, I don’t know what’s next. I’m going to leave Boulder and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve got a degree and you guys have helped me along the way, but now that it’s time for the real world, I don’t have the professional network that the students in engineering or business have. What can I do to get a good job?

So we are raising money to put a staff together that will form a network of Buffs and donors around the country. Many of our athletes come from out of state and will return there when done. Early in their career, we will help them identify their strengths and weaknesses and provide a map for them that will include mentorship and intern opportunities. As they get closer to graduation we will help them build their professional network so that they can start their career on the right foot.

CAD: So, as you kind of work on the mental health aspect and the transition part, are these kind of staffing projects only, or is there going to be some facilities that go hand-in-hand?

BB: It’s a little bit of both. It’s starting with staff. We need to start with people that can put the programmatic pieces in place. As the mental health program grows and that department grows, we will look into building separate space for our team.

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