Nathan Pine has hit the ground running at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He officially began his new role as the Academy’s athletic director on January 28 of this year. His first 100 days will mean a lot of listening and getting to know his new surroundings. He takes over an academy sports program with 29 teams for the 4,000 cadets.
Taking over at the mid-point of an academic and athletic year is a good thing for Pine, giving him time to have meaningful conversations with the various constituency at the Air Force Academy.
“Getting to know our cadet-athletes, who I serve first and foremost, then talking with staff and coaches, spending time getting to know them, who they are what they are all about and then you gotta balance that with getting out and meeting alum, our best supporters.”
Pine says those supporters also have a vision for the Air Force Academy and he wants to learn what it will take to make that vision happen. He also hopes the passion for his athletic department spreads to the community.
“We have to get out in the Colorado Springs area, extend that invitation for involvement. We want them at our events supporting our cadet-athletes because those are strong connections that need to be continued and deepened.”
Pine believes the plan for his first year will be influenced by the conversations over his first 100 days. He hopes to put that plan together this summer for the next academic year.
Pine comes to Air Force after serving as the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at the College of the Holy Cross since 2013. During his tenure, the athletic department also saw unprecedented growth in fundraising, more than doubling the athletic fund over the last four years and raising over $2-million during the 2017-2018 academic year. That track record made him a great fit for the Air Force Academy.
“I became immediately interested when the job became available last spring,” Pine said, “Once I learned what they were looking for, it peaked my interested further. It really lined up well on both sides.”
Pine sees wide open opportunities at his new position, he knows the Air Force Academy is a strong institution with much potential on the horizon. With his experience at United States Military Academy, where he managed all business initiatives for Army and oversight of the external and revenue-generating operations for athletics, he is in a unique position to understand the position of his new institution.
“You have the government funding that is set up a bit different than a state school, that has real strong regulations on how money can be used. Now you also have the 501c3 that is set up in support of the athletic areas, so that gives you the ability to operate a little more like a public or private institution to raise money and generate revenue.”
He says bringing the Air Force Academy in line with that model will set them up to be highly competitive. He says moving the athletic director position to the Air Force Academy Athletic Corporation (AFAAC), which was created in 2013, allowed service academies to outsource athletic business operations to allow them to keep pace financially with their peers. The AFAAC covers the salaries of most of Air Force’s coaches in revenue sports such as football and basketball, and that was recently extended to the athletic director position.
“That was a big deal for Air Force, it will allow the AD position to go out and be an active leader in the fundraising effort that the position wasn’t able to be before. It’s really set up to be successful and provide new opportunities.”