While I do agree that Jane has been more supportive of athletics than she gets credit for, she also bears her fair share of responsibility for the perception of how far Athletics at Long Beach State have fallen. The hiring of Andy Fee, the embarassing handling of the mascot/name issue, the dismantling of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving and her inability to convey an inspiring leadership vision are difficult things to repair and overcome.
Like many long-time supporters, I don't see Jane as capable of taking this University any further, and I'm going to sit it out until the next person arrives. I am dreading the fact that she will hire the new AD, and given the financial situation of the University, it will be done with a salary range that will ensure that it's someone without the experience or ability to do all the things that need to be done. I'm just not optimistic that she really understand what is needed in the next AD. I hope I'm proven wrong.
While in Henderson, for the Big West Basketball Tournament, Susan and I were invited to a meeting with President Jane Conoley, her husband Collie, and new VP of University Relations and Development, Dan Montoya. This was not my first meeting with Jane, but it was the first where we just sat and discussed issues that basically pertained to Long Beach State Athletics.
I know that many of you have felt that Jane really does not support athletics. Based on the things that I have done over the years, both for and with the school, I have seen a different side of Jane than most of you. I have always felt she was pro athletics and know she has helped athletics financially when she could. This meeting further convinced me that she has been good for athletics in the past and I believe that she will continue to be so in the future.
During the meeting, I asked questions that were important to me, and I attempted to bring up many of the issues that have been discussed on the message board over the past few years. I would say that Jane and Dan are very much aware of issues that have concerned me, and most of you who post on the message board.
Based upon the financial issues that have impacted the school over the last few years, many of them caused by the COVID virus, the things that could or should have been done that would help the school in general, and athletics in particular have been VERY hard to accomplish. Jane said there are a number of things that she would have liked to do, but without available funds were impossible to do.
Jane needs to wear many hats and is pulled in many different directions as President of Long Beach State. At this point, the school is heavily in debt. That includes over $5M from Athletic overruns but does not include the Pyramid “leaking” issue. Dan Montoya has been brought in as the VP of University Relations and Development. In short, this means that he heads-up overall fund raising for the university.
Our university is no different than the rest of our country. We have lots of people with lots of valid needs and wants, but little or no way to pay for these needs and wants. The punch line for those of us that support athletic is that we need to help to find revenue sources that can be funneled to athletics.
We had an open and frank discussions about how we could raise more money for athletics. Yes, they were both aware that WINNING is the best way to increase revenue for athletics and I believe that we WILL see changes in the future that will help that!
From what I heard, I believe there is a very good chance student fees will be increased before the start of the new school year and a part of that will help athletics. Jane would like all of us who love and support athletics that she hears us, but much of what we would like to see happen cost money, which is in very short supply right now. A ship as big as Long Beach State is very hard to turn or respond to in a short period of time. At a time when circumstances, such as COVID, have put a heavy financial burden on the school, we have boosters who are stopping or suspending their donations until changes are made. Jane understands your rational, but also wants you to understand that doing so is contributing to the problem. She gets where you are coming from but asks that you understand the overall issues facing her and the university. Please recognize that it takes money to change things for the better.
For me and Susan, we came away from the meeting with better understanding of the problems that Jane faces with respect to the overall university and for athletics in particular. I am convinced Jane wants athletics to be successful and feels that athletics is valuable to the university on a variety of fronts. I have high hopes that Dan can come in with some new ideas. He has had experience at SDSU and Loyola and seems to be willing to work hard and listen to new ideas.
Now, let’s stand back and look at the financial picture. Say we have 250,000 graduates from Long Beach State. If each one of them would contribute $49 to the university on an annual basis, that would raise $12,500,000 each year, which could turn us from the university that we are to the kind of a university that all of us want us to be. Or maybe 1,000 grads each contribute $12,500 each year. Or 500 grads each contribute $25,000 each year. As you can see, it is all in the numbers. If everyone does a little, we could be very successful. But.. most want a few to do a lot!!! Let’s all see what we can do to HELP the university that we all love and so desperately want to be a HUGE success!!!
If you see us at games in the next few months, feel free to stop by and say hello. Susan and I will be happy to tell you a little more about our meeting with Jane and Dan. And to end this little note on the light side, Jane said she admired the 49’er/Prospector Pete jack I wear to most of the games!!!
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