Aug. 30, 2012
The four finalists for the Director of Athletics position at Montana will be on campus this week, and GoGriz.com will be providing an inside look at each candidate. Today we feature Kent Haslam, Montana's associate director of athletics for development and the only internal candidate among the four finalists.
Haslam, who splits his duties between Grizzly Athletics and the UM Foundation, has been in his role at Montana since January 2006. He got his start in college athletics at Northern Arizona in May 2000, serving the Lumberjacks as the associate director of athletics for external operations.
Prior to his time at NAU, Haslam was the media and communications manager for the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee and spent five years prior to that working in professional baseball.
Why did you apply to be the next Director of Athletics at Montana?
Because I love Montana. I love the University of Montana, and I love this athletic department. I believe this is a tremendous place to work and that my skill set matches what is needed at this time.
My goal has been to be an athletic director, and I couldn't think of a better place to accomplish that goal than at the University of Montana. For me this is a very personal and emotional place, and I'm invested here. I really want to see this place get better and move forward, grow and progress.
I see it as a blessing and an opportunity to do something good.
What makes you a one of the four finalists for the position?
I think people see me for what I've been the past six and a half years. Somebody who has built relationships with people based on honesty, based on trust, based on integrity and based on following through on those things you say you are going to do. People know who I am, and they know what I stand for.
I think my experiences outside of college athletics were a real factor as well. I worked in professional baseball for five years, and I was part of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games before getting into college athletics. It's a broad and diverse work experience that hasn't been limited only to college athletics.
Montana has been without a Director of Athletics since March. What would be your top priorities in your first month on the job?
I think I have an advantage (over the other candidates) of already knowing the internal workings of the university and the department. I know the processes, and I know the people. That will allow me in the first 30 days to really get out and repair some of those relationships that may be strained. We need to shore those up and move very quickly to close some gifts and get these (facility issues addressed).
I also feel it's very important for me to set the tone for what it would be like with me as athletic director, both for those in the department and across campus. What my expectations of people will be and what they'll be held accountable to.
I know the people in the department, and I've worked with a lot of people across campus, but not in the role as athletic director. That changes things, so I think it's important to get out quickly and share my vision.
What are the challenges you see in the decade ahead for Montana?
We have tremendous competition facilities, but our internal facilities need attention. We have to improve our locker rooms and weight room, we need to shore up the facility plan for the addition of women's softball, and we need an indoor practice facility of some sort for our track and field athletes and our golf and tennis teams.
We don't need the most plush and the most ornate facilities. They need to be functional, they need to be safe, and they need to be facilities that serve us into the future. We need them if we want to recruit the best student-athletes and give them the best possible experience and to recruit the best coaches.
Building and growing the budget will be important, too. We need to find new revenue sources and maximize the revenue sources we already have. And we need to shore up some areas that might be a little bit weak when it comes to potential sources.
As far as the shift of where college athletics is going, I don't think you can turn your eye to that. You can't just be complacent and happy where you're at. You've got to make sure you're continually getting better, because down the road there could be tremendous change.
Some of that is out of your control, but you can control what you're doing, how hard you're working and how successful you're being at the moment.
What is your favorite part of being an athletics administrator?
I loved my college experience, so I love being on a college campus and living in a college town. I've found my niche. I love being part of a larger vision and mission of a university.
Athletics teaches lessons and skills that you can't find anywhere else. It was through athletics that I learned how to work hard, to be a good teammate, to both fail and succeed and then manage winning and losing.
I think the student-athlete experience is a tremendous educational tool. I come from a family of educators, so I love being a part of the educational process. I really enjoy being a part of people's lives and impacting them for good. Higher education is a great place to do that.
What's been the most memorable moment of your career?
Watching Anthony Johnson bring the Grizzles back against Weber State (in the Big Sky Conference tournament championship game at Ogden, Utah) in 2010 was a pretty special moment.
The (FCS semifinal) football game against Appalachian State at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in 2009 was a pretty amazing experience.
It wasn't part of my collegiate career, but sitting at the opening ceremonies (at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games at Salt Lake City) when the flag that flew over the World Trade Center was carried in. That was an amazing, amazing experience.
And then when I got the chance to get into college athletics at Northern Arizona. I felt so fortunate at the time to be able to make that jump into college athletics.
Those are the real neat moments when I look back on it.
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