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 Scott Kilgallon, Webster University Director of Athletics.
A long time member of collegiate administration Scott Kilgallon recently completed his third year as the Director of Athletics at Webster University. Since his arrival, he has pushed for hosting rights for Webster including hosting the baseball regional tournament in each of the last two years. He is just the sixth Director of Athletics at Webster University.
From the East Coast to Wisconsin to St. Louis, how did you find your way to Webster?
"I get asked this a lot from my family and friends in the Boston area. Living in different parts of the country was never in my plans but the A.D. position is very much like the President position in that Universities have multiple Deans but only one AD and President. I also like the challenge of building programs. At Southern Vermont College the challenge was to build essentially an intramural program into a thriving NCAA program. At the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, I inherited a program that was 68th in the Directors Cup with just one NCAA Championship and moved that program routinely in the teens and as high as 10th in the Directors Cup while winning three National Championships. During the interview process at Webster University, it was obvious to me that the athletics staff was made up of an outstanding group of professionals who are also good people. Working with a staff with these qualities was very important to me as I was interviewing with Universities."
An athletic director is the leader of the athletic department. What are some keys to having a successful department?
"The focus is for our athletics staff to work hard and as a team to provide our student-athletes with the best experience possible in the competitive arena and to ensure they are taking care of their academics. While responsible for leading the athletics department, it is important that I roll up my sleeves along with my staff to get the job done. It is also important to communicate high expectations and challenges as I believe this helps invigorate the staff and feel good when a major goal is achieved. An example is the successful hosting of the NCAA Baseball Central Regional Championships the past two years. After over two decades in this role, this group is the first athletics staff I have invited to my house during the holidays for a great home cooked meal by my wife Ginny and to hang out together."
Webster has a strong tradition, from baseball to women's soccer, what does it mean to the department and students to have competitive programs?
"We are in a competitive business where our report card is out there for everyone to see, so it is very important for our staff and student-athletes to continue to get better. What I like about our program is we achieve athletic success without athletic success without compromising the welfare of the student-athlete and always emphasize the importance of academics. Along the way, our coaches and staff do a great job teaching and developing our student-athlete to give back and be good people."
What do you like most about being an athletic director?
"Division III is the best in that it is the purest form of athletics; given no scholarships, the student-athletes compete for the love of the game, and coaches and staff that genuinely care about their role in developing young adults. I enjoy getting to know all of our student-athletes. I have been asked many times which is my favorite sport. My answer is all sports as the games are that much more appealing when you know the student-athletes and get to witness their growth and success. One area that is important for me is to make sure our student-athletes know they can come to me for a reference for graduate school or in their career search after graduating."
Webster has been fortunate to have a majority of their coaches as long time members of the coaching staff. Why do you think that is and how important is it to maintain consistency in those roles?
"Consistency is great as long as you don't stagnate. Webster University has been very fortunate to retain a great athletics staff. My job is to keep this group striving to reach lofty goals as I blieve this group has the capablities of making the program relevant on the national level. The key to this staff is that they check their egos at the door and readily have adopted the phrase 'Do your job' The other key component is our staff genuinely likes each other, which produces positive results."