Marco Born was named Lamar University Director of Athletics by President Dr. Kenneth Evans on March 29. Born has hit the ground running since taking over in Beaumont. Dan Gale recently had the opportunity to sit down with Marco Born and discuss his first 90 days in office. Born shared what he’s done since taking over at Lamar, how he prepared to for the job, advice for other first time ADs, as well as what’s up next for the Cardinals.
Dan Gale: Marco, tell us about your first 90 days and what has been your focus at Lamar?
Marco Born: The first 90 days I’ve focused a lot on building relationships and getting to know the staff, the coaches, student-athletes, the community, and people on campus. Building a relationship with the President is a very important piece as I’ve spent a lot of time with him above and beyond our regular meetings that we have. Additionally, I have been intentional about getting to know the entire staff. I met with every staff member from the secretary to the head football coach within the first 30 to 45 days and I asked them six questions:
-What’s the one thing or more than one thing that cannot change at Lamar (positive)?
-What’s the one thing or more than one thing that must change at Lamar (negative)?
-What’s the culture and morale like currently?
-What do they need for their program or department to be successful?
-What they expect from me?
-What, if anything else they wanted to bring to my attention or cover?
I also met with every department head across campus, every Vice President, and every Provost. I decided to go to their office to have that meeting, not in mine. The goal of these meetings was to reach out and establish a foundation for a good partnership moving forward. I wanted to discover the past relationships and allow them to ask me any questions in regards to athletics and academics.
Lastly, I spent a lot of time meeting within the community and getting to know as many donors as I could. I had a lot of breakfasts and lunches. The good, and bad thing, for me, was I didn’t have my family here for the first two and a half months. This allowed me to keep my schedule fairly open to have a lot of meals with people and get to spend time understanding what our donor base and our fan base desired.
That was the first 90 days, a lot of meetings, speaking engagements, meals, TV appearances, radio appearances, all those things just for people to get to know me, to learn more about I’m about and what the vision was I had for Lamar Athletics.
Dan Gale: Wow. It sounds like you had a lot going on in that first 90 day period. What would be the one piece of advice you’d give to any new athletic director to focus on in those first 90 days?
Marco Born: Well, I got a couple of pieces of advice from my mentors. One of them was to pace yourself, which I tried to do and I think I did a fairly good job with. There weren’t too many days where I was in the office past seven or eight in that first 90 day period. I made sure I had time to decompress in the evening. I would always make sure to work out and spend some time talking to my wife and daughter to allow me to focus on things other than work. I’ve hired a lot of new staff here since I’ve been here, and I tell them the same thing because they all get overwhelmed with work. You’ve got to pace yourself, you can’t fix it all overnight.
Second, I would say the need to build relationships and reach out to the academic side of campus. It’s easy to meet with the donors and reach out to the community to get to know them, but really focusing on being a part of campus is essential. We are the front porch of the University in a lot of ways, but we do need to fall in line with what the University does and work with the Deans and the Vice President’s to achieve the greater mission.
Building relationships is essential and was something I was prepared for in the role, but pacing yourself was something I wasn’t expecting as advice, but when I got the job it was very valuable! When I look back at the first 90 days, my advice to anyone ever in this role for the first time in the future is to focus some time on things other than work because you’ll wear yourself out.
Dan Gale: That’s great advice. On that same note, what did you see that was the most challenging part of the first 90 days in transitioning from a number two position to now sitting in the chair, what was the biggest challenge that you saw?
Marco Born: I think it’s prioritizing tasks. People that work with me, when they read this, will probably laugh, but I always have a to-do list and I mark things off that to-do list when I accomplish them. I was doing that at Louisiana Tech when I was overseeing all of the external units, but now all of a sudden, I not only oversee external units, but I oversee academics, compliance and all the coaches. There’s just a lot more coming your way that you need to ensure you are prioritized properly.
You never really fully understand what all goes into leading the entire department until you sit in the chair. Obviously these days Athletic Directors are being judged on how good of a coach they hire and how much money they raise, but you deal with a lot more internal issues such as personnel decisions that need to be made quickly. Just the volume of things that come across your desk is something that is hard to prepare for in comparison and that is unrelated to what you may have done before as a number two. I was expecting to a degree because had a lot of advice from some individuals that have have been ADs or are sitting in the chair now, but the different things coming your way from another visit with a donor, to later on you’ve got to deal with a compliance issue, then you have an issue in the weight room. Stuff just pops up every day and you put out a lot of fires, it really never ends.
They come along and you’ve got to find a way to manage and prioritize your time. I try to carve out some hours in my day on my calendar that’s listed as ‘Do Not Disturb’ or ‘Do Not Schedule’ so I can check some email, can go by practice, visit with a coach or spend time with the student-athletes. However, things just pop up and sometimes you don’t have the luxury of those times. Being able to prioritize the volume of things that come across your desk has been a change to what it was before, as because now you oversee everything!