A McCaw-some Task

December 9, 2003

In his desk, new athletic director Ian McCaw keeps a journal filled with quotes, passages of scripture and bits of wise counsel he's received through the years. Periodically, he says, he pulls out something "that's particularly meaningful given the circumstances I'm facing."
Late last August, as he was considering whether to come to Baylor, the advice he pulled out of his journal came from the Bible: "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain" (Psalm 127:1).
Many would have agreed that as McCaw took the reins of Baylor's athletic program on Sept. 8, it was one whose foundation was at least a little shaky.'A month earlier, President Robert B. Sloan Jr. had announced the resignations of men's basketball coach Dave Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton. The men's basketball program was in chaos, and the internal investigation into possible NCAA infractions was just getting started.
The 41-year-old native Canadian swept into Baylor's heated athletic environment like a blue norther, bringing with him what everyone hopes will be a change in season. Coming from a one-year stint at the University of Massachusetts, where he ran a 23-sport program and initiated a five-year strategic plan, McCaw previously had spent five years at Boston's Northeastern University. His successes there included a reorganization of the athletic department, another five-year strategic plan, a school record for America East Conference titles, renovations of facilities and a 100 percent increase in total revenues. 
McCaw, who has a bachelor's degree in sports administration and a master's in sports management, describes his professional style as one of hard work, discipline and integrity. He comes from a blue-collar family - his father worked as a sales manager in the steel industry and his mother was an elementary school teacher and consultant. And yes, growing up in Burlington, Ontario, he played hockey, but he played almost every other sport as well. 
He and his wife, Heather, have four children, ages 2, 4, 6 and 8. He says he has few hobbies - no long hours golfing or hunting - and that he focuses on his faith commitments, family and job. He laughingly admits his favorite book of the Bible is James: "I'm a real bottom-line, practical person."
Sitting in his office at the northwest end of Floyd Casey Stadium, McCaw squinted into the morning sun as we began our interview on Oct. 20. The significance of the metaphor is obvious. McCaw must put the glare of last summer's events behind Baylor athletics as quickly as possible and move the program into a future made bright for better, and much different, reasons. 

This past summer's events were unfolding before you were contacted about the AD position. Were you following the story, and did it impact your thoughts about accepting the position at Baylor?

As I observed the scandal from a distance this summer, I just felt very bad for the University and the people involved. The entire circumstance was very regrettable. As far as my personal situation, it really wasn't a deterrent in considering Baylor. I was incredibly impressed with the way Sloan handled it, and I think he really demonstrated the values of Baylor and the integrity of the institution. This is just a great fit for me personally. My Christian beliefs and Baylor's aspirations really fit with what I want to do professionally. 

What is this year and the next going to be like for the men's basketball program?

Our basketball fans are going to have to be patient with coach Drew as he rebuilds the program. Clearly, we're underscholarshiped at this point, we don't have either the numbers or the quality of players we're going to need to be highly competitive in the Big 12 right now. But he's a tremendous recruiter, excellent coach and I just believe there isn't a better fit in terms of a men's basketball coach than Scott Drew for Baylor.

How is recruiting going?

In terms of the freshman class of '04, I think overall recruiting is going very well. We're being well-received. I've had a couple of our coaches express concern about the incidents of the summer and the effect that it's had on their programs, but by and large, it seems as though we're very well-positioned right now. With Baylor's high-quality education, the athletic programs we have in place, the facilities, membership in the Big 12, we have a great deal to offer young men and women.

In your last two jobs, at UMass and Northeastern, you implemented five-year strategic plans. What does your plan for Baylor look like?

We'll begin the process of developing our strategic plan over the next several weeks. The overarching goals of the athletic program will be, first of all, to assure we provide a very high-quality experience for our student-athletes; second, to achieve competitive success in all of our athletic programs; third, to create an environment that promotes equity, diversity, good sporting conduct, rules compliance and our Christian values; fourth, to be very successful in terms of resource acquisition and generating more revenue for the athletic program; and fifth, to provide high-quality management and leadership.

Making sure Baylor is fully compliant with Big 12 and NCAA rules is one of your priorities. What will you do to ensure that?

We've invited the Big 12 to come in and conduct a compliance review for us; they will send representatives in to look at our compliance model and make recommendations. That will be happening in the spring. We'll also look for Paul Bradshaw, who heads up our compliance area, to give us advice. 
[In addition, Baylor begins in January a yearlong NCAA certification process, required once a decade.] They come in and look at four primary areas: commitment to compliance, fiscal integrity, commitment to equity, diversity and student-athlete welfare, and commitment to academic integrity. We'll do an internal self-study, ... then a peer-review committee representing the NCAA and different institutions will review what we've studied, and then we'll conduct a second level of detail. 

There is a lot of pressure, especially in the athletic culture we live in today, to turn one's back on violations in order to keep the key athlete, to win. How do you encourage people to report questionable activity?

I think that tells you why, if you look around the country, there have been so many lapses of integrity. Clearly, our integrity has to override the way we conduct our business. I wouldn't be here if I didn't think we could run a successful athletic program and maintain integrity at the same time.
We have two people who work in [compliance], and one also has some additional responsibilities. Typically in the Big 12, I think three to six staff members seems to be the range. ... It's critical that compliance is everybody's responsibility, and the way we've been able to accomplish that is we've built that into everyone's job descriptions; it's not just one or two people down in the compliance office. ... You also create these checks and balances throughout the system where if someone makes a mistake, there's somebody else to recognize that something went wrong, and there's a corrective step that can be taken.

The internal investigative committee is still convening. What are some of the possible outcomes for Baylor with the NCAA, and what is the timeline on that?

They have purposely not set a timeline because they want to be very thorough and they don't want to be boxed into any particular constraints. My sense is that certainly it will be completed during the fall. At that point, we'll bring that to closure and then move forward with the process. 

Is it the NCAA's responsibility to enforce compliance or is it primarily an internal responsibility of each school?

The responsibility for and the commitment to integrity begin at the institutional level. You really can't legislate morality. The NCAA has probably too many rules in place, and the reason we have too many rules is there's a lack of trust. There have been instances in the past of violations of rules of conduct, and that's why we have a rulebook that's 11/2 inches thick.

You've been described as one of the new breed of athletic directors. Can you comment on how that role has changed?

The role of the AD has changed dramatically over the years. I describe this responsibility as being very much like running a small business within a higher education framework. The skills of an AD today need to be everything from marketing to fundraising to rules compliance, managing a large staff and working with a highly dynamic set of constituencies. ... If you look at the AD of my generation, you will find people who have MBAs and very strong business backgrounds, because that's really what this job requires. ... It is important that an AD have a good sense of athletics and what sports are about ... but what you're doing is trying to hire the best coaches you can, give them the resources they need to be successful and motivating them to achieve the goals of the program and the university. It's much more of a management position.

How would you describe your management style, with administrative staff and with coaches?

I'm a delegator by nature. There's only so much I can accomplish in a given day, so I delegate both responsibilities and results to the people on our staff. I look to surround myself with people of very high character who are motivated to achieve success, people who share the values of the institution and are committed to excellence, and fortunately, we have a tremendous number of those people here at Baylor right now. 

What are long-range plans for future facilities?

There was an athletics facilities master plan put together about a year ago, and we're looking at revising it. There's an academic success center that's in the plan ... and there's been some discussion about an on-campus football training facility ... and about an indoor, multiple-purpose facility that could be used for tennis, volleyball, soccer and other sports.

How does Baylor stand with Title IX compliance?

Baylor's in compliance with Title IX based on meeting the interests and abilities of its students. It's something we'll be looking at much more closely in the coming year as we enter the NCAA certification process. A major component of that is presenting a gender-equity plan. 

Is it possible for an AD to be effective at a Big 12 school if the teams aren't winning? If the football team alone isn't winning?

My responsibility is to facilitate the success of our teams, so the ability of our teams to be successful is certainly critical in everything that we do. ... I try to identify ways I can tangibly assist them [coaches] as they try to achieve the various goals for their programs. It's a partnership: They can't be successful without my support, and I can't be successful without theirs.