Home' Campus Technology : September 2012 Contents Consequently, schools have ample motivation to make
their athletic departments as successful as possible. And
whether it's ticketing, broadcasting, signage, or coaching,
IT's involvement is growing as technology becomes inte-
gral to college athletics. At schools where intercollegiate
sports are mega-business, most athletic departments field
their own IT operations. At the other end of the spectrum,
however, are scores of small- and middle-sized schools that
must rely on central IT for support.
For IT departments, it's not always an easy relationship to
manage. Athletic departments tend to have their own culture,
their own needs, and often their own tech tools. For CIOs and
IT managers, the secret---as with every other department on
campus---is to focus on the client's needs first. "Think about
all the technology coaches have acquired in the last five years,
and the level of knowledge they need---that's only going to
accelerate," advises Mitch Davis, CIO of Bowdoin College,
a long-established school of 1,750 students in Maine. "Try
to find ways of working with them to develop that knowledge
quickly so they can utilize the tools effectively. If you're making
decisions that make your job easier but their job harder, then
you're probably going to be outsourced."
Here, in a highlight list that would make ESPN proud, are
CT's top five picks for where IT and athletic departments
can team up to make their sports programs a success---
both on and off the field.
1) Cost Savings
In the current fiscal environment, few schools need mo-
tivation to save money. "Whereas big-time schools have
big budgets, we don't have a lot of resources and funds,"
notes Jack McDonald, director of athletics and recreation
at Quinnipiac University, a private Connecticut school
with 5,900 undergrad and 2,000 grad students. Like
BUILDING A WINNING TEAM
IT'S A SPORTS CLICHÉ, but teamwork usually trumps raw talent. In the world of IT and school sports programs, the same
holds true. And while the needs of athletic departments differ in many ways from other divisions on campus, CIOs may be
surprised at how eager IT employees are to work with the sports staff. "It's a little bit outside the traditional day-to-day
responsibility of technology folks," notes Fred Tarca, chief information and technology officer at Quinnipiac University (CT). "But
we feel a connection to the department, the coaches, and the players, and that's very inspiring."
It's a sentiment that cuts both ways. With technology playing an ever-greater role in sports today, Mike Sutton, director of athletics
at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (CA), appreciates having the ability to call on tech experts. "Having a point man in the IT
department to just call and get an answer I can actually understand is really key," he says.
The relationship is worth cultivating for other reasons, too, advises Jeremy Whaley, director of information systems and network
services at Claremont McKenna College. "If, for some reason, Athletics didn't want to come to us, we would see a lot more third-party
involvement without our knowledge, which might not work with our infrastructure and could cause friction between the two groups."
For his part, Whaley sees his group's role as that of integrator as well as adviser. If someone from Athletics asks how to use technology
for tracking staff or filming practice matches, for example, Whaley will work with him to find a solution. As for products that the athletic
department is evaluating, says Whaley, "We'll perform a discovery with them and determine if we're able to support it."
And, at the risk of raining on everyone's parade, IT can help manage expectations. "A lot of times people want perfection when
they sign up to get services," notes Mitch Davis, CIO at Bowdoin College (ME). "It's my role to let them know that it's not going to
be perfect, but we'll negotiate with the vendor until we get it as close to perfect as we can."
sports administrators at many small schools, he's attempt-
ing to do more with less.
Fred Tarca, the school's chief information and technology
officer, believes that central IT can help McDonald stretch
those dollars. "At Quinnipiac we are fortunate enough to un-
derstand that Athletics and Information Services are a team
sport," says Tarca. "We are not necessarily looking to have
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