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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Sports

Rhoades expects bright future for athletics


Many people who visit Athletic Director Mack Rhoades’ office are surprised to discover how busy he actually is. From juggling constant meetings to playing phone tag with those requesting insight from the man in charge of the UH Athletic Department, Rhoades has a full plate.’

What may be most surprising is that he still finds a way to relate to students.

Without batting an eye, he is quick to help an aspiring reporter by carrying her bag into an interview.

‘I have three daughters and I know how heavy these can be,’ he said.’

Clearly he has not lost touch with the people he serves.

The man responsible for the University of Akron’s unprecedented growth and achievement had many reasons to come to UH.

‘First of all, Houston is a great city to live and to raise a family in,’ Rhoades said. ‘It offers so many different things like the arts, lifestyle and the theaters. I saw Dr. Khator’s vision and saw her excitement with how close we are to achieving Tier One status and her belief that athletics needs to be a part of that.’

While his short-term goals include major renovations to Robertson Stadium and Hofheinz Pavilion, Rhoades stressed that upgrades are needed for all sports facilities.’

‘Compared to other schools in our conference, some sports buildings are starting to show their age and need some general maintenance,’ Rhoades said.

Rhoades also said that changes were not limited to the University’s facilities. ‘

‘You need to develop a culture to excellence,’ Rhoades said. ‘I believe in giving great attention to detail, and that we should strive to outwork everybody with unbelievable work ethic.’

He also recognized that there are economic inroads to be made, starting with selling the program and game day experience to fans.’

‘Ticket sales are the lifeblood of any athletics program,’ Rhoades said. ‘That is money in the bank that immediately helps your operational budget.’

Rhoades also said that in this economic climate, the athletic program needs to be a viable entertainment option for families to spend money on.’

Rhoades adheres to a leadership program he dubbed ‘developing champions for life,’ because he believes that success needs to extend beyond the playing field.

‘We want (student-athletes) to come in as freshmen and by the time their years of eligibility have expired, have a degree and have become better athletically but that they have also have an unbelievable social experience,’ Rhoades said.

Rhoades looks to others who have had success in his field for inspiration. One such role model is legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, and his observance of personal accountability.

‘(Wooden) is a man of such unbelievable integrity, he has never compromised that,’ Rhoades said.

He said that President Khator saw him as ‘somebody who has a willingness to do what it takes, a drive. Perfection is not attainable, but if you strive for perfection you will achieve excellence.’

Rhoades made it clear that he wants all of UH involved in athletics, not just the athletes.

‘Go to class everyday and get your degree, you’re at a great institution and make the most of your time here,’ Rhoades said. ‘Also, come support; be a part of our athletic family.’

He is also quick to point out the success of the past administration, which started a trend of higher graduation rates for student-athletes than that of the general student body. That doesn’t keep Rhoades from looking for ways to improve the program as a whole.’

‘Whether we like it or not, college athletics plays a major role in terms of the visibility of a university,’ Rhoades said. ‘It is the window to the University and I believe we have the responsibility to do it the right way.

‘We need to build an organization that really understands customer service. We need to become close-knit, and become a family from within.’


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