Case study

Building a Winning Athletics Department

Business Challenge

The new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Oregon Stae University came into a department charged with critical financial management needs as well as improved performance in the revenue-producing sports. He sought assistance in analyzing the current needs of the department, specifically the culture and the individuals on the leadership team.

Innovative Solutions

In order to fully assess the leadership team, Compass conducted an analysis of the current culture within the department. This process included the following components:

  • The Director of Intercollegiate Athletics’ 23 direct reports were asked to provide updated resumes, complete a customized questionnaire, and a DiSC assessment. Compass conducted 90-minute interviews with each direct report to assess skills, strengths, flight risk, and commitment to the mission and organization.
  • Culture assessment focus groups were held with 100+ staff.
  • A complete review of the organization’s documents, including the strategic plan and SWOT analysis, helped to gain a current culture perspective.

Compass provided the following deliverables to assist in moving the culture forward under the new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics’ leadership:

  • A dossier, made to look like a scouting report, for each direct report outlining all findings of our interviews and suggestions for future growth.
  • Suggested reporting structure changes to empower Associate Athletic Directors, elevate strategic positions such as finance, and increase diversity.
  • A facilitated workshop to help the leadership team develop an updated mission statement and core values to define the department culture.
  • A two-day workshop with leadership, coaches, and student-athlete representatives to provide coaching on specific areas of need, including conflict resolution and delegation.
  • An entire department town hall meeting featuring the final report, including a Q&A session with the new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Shared Results

After the workshop, the department adopted, branded, and publicized new core values aligned with the focus of the department. The Compass-facilitated town hall meeting was well-received.

The culture has become more collaborative and communication has improved. The department channeled its focus on meeting the needs of developing student-athletes.

Two specific moves greatly impacted the financial bottom line. The new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics was able to negotiate the exit of the football coach without executing a significant financial component of his contract, which greatly benefited the school. Additionally, the role of the financial person was elevated to allow the individual to make sound business decisions in direct communication with the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.

I couldn’t be happier with the service that was orchestrated and delivered by Compass. From the outset, they made us feel as if we were their only client, their work was beyond tremendous and we believe sets us up for success both in the short and long term.

Scott Barnes
Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics

Oregon State University (OSU) is an international public research university with students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.
Total OSU Students: Over 32,000
Athletics Department: PAC-12 Conference with approximately 250 employees

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