You may have seen them on the sidelines, in the stands, or heading off to meetings; but what does an athletic director really do? This summer, on each Friday, we will take you behind the desk with the heads of the athletic departments from St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference member institutions. This week's interview is with Spalding University Athletic Director, Roger Burkman.
From starring on the basketball court to believing in education, Burkman has been at the crossroads of both athletics and academics for the majority of his life. After being a member of the University of Louisville 1980 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship team Burkman eventually made his way to the administration offices in an academic setting including his current role as Athletic Director at Spalding University.
Why did you want to be an athletic director after serving as the development officer at Trinity High School for 11 years?
"Although I enjoyed my years at Trinity, I always wanted to work in athletics at the collegiate level. In my 12 years here at Spalding, it is rewarding to look back and see what we have collectively accomplished."
What do you enjoy most about being an Athletic Director?
"That is easy. I enjoy the people I work with each day as we try to be a positive influence on the student-athletes we serve."
Spalding has had success from various athletic teams recently, what does that mean for the Spalding community and alumni?
"It means a lot to our community and alumni base, to see our different programs and student-athletes doing well. It obviously helps our recruiting because as you know success breeds success. Our student-athletes are not only successful on the court or field, but more importantly in the classroom. We graduate our student-athletes and celebrate their successes. We are so proud of each and every one of them that chose Spalding University as the place to play collegiately and receive their degree."
People know Spalding as a school located in downtown Louisville, but how would you describe Spalding to someone?
"I tell people not familiar with Spalding that we are by far the best-kept secret in Louisville when it comes to higher education. Then I tell them that we not only offer undergraduate degrees, but several Master's and Doctoral programs as well. I like to share with others the success we have in regard to degree completion. In fact our mission statement says it best: Spalding University is a diverse community of learners dedicated to meeting the needs of the times in the tradition of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth through quality undergraduate and graduate liberal and professional studies, grounded in spiritual values, with emphasis on service and the promotion of peace and justice."
Spalding University recently announced that they will be breaking ground on a new athletics facility. Can you talk about the process of raising that money and what it will mean for Spalding?
"We are hoping to break ground this fall on a new Spalding University sports complex that will provide us two new synthetic soccer fields and one softball field. This has been a labor of love for us because for years both soccer teams and our softball team have had to travel off campus to practice and play. This certainly will change all of that in such a positive manner and will help in attracting student-athletes. When all is said and done we will have raised roughly $5.5 million to complete this project. We are truly blessed with some awesome people that believe in what we are doing here at Spalding University. It is a huge challenge for us but the future is bright for the Golden Eagles and we are proud to continue to compete in the SLIAC."