Athletic director with a difference

August 06, 1994|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun Staff Writer

On paper, NCAA Division III Villa Julie College new athletic director Brett Adams looks like any other AD.

But Adams is not typical. It is believed that Adams, 28, is the youngest AD in Division III and perhaps in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Adams, hired in late June from York College in Pennsylvania, was at a loss for words about his youth.

"In this position, I'm excited," said Adams, after one month on the job. "I don't know what else to say."

NCAA officials said they do not keep any records on the ages of athletic directors. The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics also said it doesn't keep such records but was unaware of anyone younger than Adams.

Adams, who played basketball and tennis for York from 1987 to 1989, noted the advantages of being under 30.

"I can still remember when I was a student-athlete," he said. "It wasn't too, too long ago. I can certainly relate to [student-athletes]. It's a lot easier.

Problems? "Maybe recruiting. My face isn't out there yet."

Adams hails from St. Albans, Vt., 20 miles north of Burlington. After two years at Johnson (Vt.) State College, he transferred to York.

After he graduated in 1989 with a degree in computer information systems, Adams was hired by York as assistant dean of admissions and men's assistant basketball coach. He also coached the women's tennis team, which was 8-3 and ranked 14th in the Division III East Region last season.

Adams said he is most proud of his teams' academic achievements. During his first two years, the squad had 3.21 and 3.18 grade-point averages and was honored as the school sports team with the highest GPA. Last year, the team had a 3.4 GPA.

"I built a philosophy in that academics come first," Adams said. "I felt God -- whichever God they choose -- is No. 1, family and indi

vidual health is No. 2, No. 3 is school and homework and No. 4 is tennis."

As the assistant dean of admissions, Adams was responsible for organizing college fairs. At one such fair at Good Counsel High School in Wheaton last spring, Mark Hergan, the director of admissions at Villa Julie, talked to Adams about the vacant AD's job. The school made an offer in early May, and Adams accepted in mid-May.

Hergan said he referred Adams to the search committee because he was a coach who cared about his athletes and an administrator who cared about his students.

"What really impressed me was that he was working in both admissions and sports," Hergan said. "He had a strong push toward academics. He said you can be an athlete, but you can also be a student."

Adams, who required his freshman players to attend study hours and sent reports to their professors twice a semester, said he took the job because of Villa Julie's academic integrity.

"Villa Julie has an excellent reputation academically," Adams said, adding that every course at the school offers a tutoring session free of charge. "And they want their student-athletes represented in the same light. . . . If I didn't believe in Villa Julie's academic reputation, there's no way I would've taken this job."

Among some of Adams' biggest challenges for the coming year are implementing an academic program for the school's athletes and joining a conference. Although Adams expressed a desire to join the Capital Athletic Conference -- which York College is in -- he said that the eight-school conference was unlikely to accept another.

Adams said he would not force his coaches to use his ideas.

"I want them to come up with their own academic programs," Adams said. "The coaches need to believe in their programs, and the students need to know that their coach believes in the program because if the students know that the coaches don't believe in their own program, then there's no pressure on [the students]."

Adams said it wasn't difficult to see why he stressed academics.

"Sure, employers want to see teamwork and stuff like that," he said. "But they also want to see something objective, something useful, and that to me relates to grade-point averages or academic accolades.

"Five years down the road, who's going to care how many points you scored in one game? Who's going to care how many aces you hit in one match? But their grade-point average stays with them for 48 years."

"I want the best for them. Not tomorrow, not next month, but down the road."

Adams, who will also be the men's and women's tennis coach and possibly the men's basketball coach for Villa Julie, said he does not feel any pressure.

"If I hadn't had the experience at York . . . then sure, I would've been intimidated and scared," Adams said. "But I've seen it work at institutions like York. I'm a bit nervous, but I know one thing: The students are going to get their degrees."

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