Terrance Tumey is a business man. That much is clear. He’ll ask calculated questions to further his understanding of any situation. Tumey seems to comprehend relational dynamics and is the sort of person that will spend the time doing his research to get things right in the long run. But the model he will be working on is that of UC Davis athletics, a task that will require all of his years of experience.
He has spent considerable time getting to know the Davis community since he assumed his post in August, attending UC Davis sporting events and taking the extra steps to understand the ecosystem here in Davis. He has a history in academics and athletics in the UC system, as well as coaching and managing football.
Tumey has been asking a lot of questions, as he is still adjusting and getting to know the unique environment we have here at UC Davis. He played a little role reversal and took the time to answer questions from Aggie Sports Editor Matthew Yuen, to let the Davis community familiarize itself with the new head of Aggie Athletics.
What attracted you to UC Davis when you first heard of the Athletic Director job opening and what has been your first impression of the school and community thus far?
Anybody who looks at Davis can say it’s a “Sleeping Giant.” It could be great but why has it been a sleeping giant for so long? What are the issues, the obstacles, the things that are stopping it from growing as an athletic entity? That 2005 year was a tremendous year, but after that there hasn’t been [a] lot of press coverage.
Academically, UC Davis has never wavered but it isn’t really recognized for that and we need to push that. It led me to look at Davis as an institution and not just as an athletic entity. And that made me look at how it all relates to athletics.
Did the incidents that took place in November, amidst all the budget cuts, etc. affect your desire to pursue this position?
I felt as though it was typical of an institution that has very progressive people that understand rights and want to express them.
Everyone here is so student-athlete-oriented, that when you do things that affect student-athletes everyone gets concerned. It did not dissuade me one bit.
I was happy to see people were so passionate about athletics. In an elimination situation, nobody wins. One of my goals here is to never have to experience the elimination of sports.
What are some goals you have for the near future for UC Davis athletics?
In terms of athletics and the community my first goal is to listen and embrace what the mission of this institution is, and how we can support it through the conduit of athletics. Athletics is just a mirror image of the institution.
Davis is a strong academic entity and a strong athletic entity that needs to grow in concert and move forward.
Understanding what foundation that is and how to get that working is what I need to do in my first year.
At your last position as the Athletic Director for Dominican University, you headed their transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II. How will that experience help you here at UC Davis, which recently completed the switch from Division II to Division I?
Every position I’ve been in has been in a transition-type role and every institution has benefited from it. Even when I was with the 49ers, they went through a development curve when they were on a non-salary capped environment; then it dipped because of the salary cap issue.
Dominican was mostly known for its nuns and the penguins but they wanted to move past that and become a select institution of choice in that region. Athletics was going to help them do that, and it wasn’t just an NCAA transition, but it was a transition of the institution.
There are a lot of elements on this campus that are doing that and I’m going to be looking out to learn from them as I’m hoping they’ll be learning from me as we try to move this institution forward.
One thing you’ve stressed is that athletes and coaches must fit into the framework we have here at UC Davis. As for yourself, how do you fit into the UC Davis mold?
One of the greatest compliments I received in this process is when people said, ‘Terry, even though you did not go to UC Davis, you feel like an Aggie already.’
That meant to me that the principles and the things I hold dear in terms of academic integrity, striving for athletic excellence and putting the business and academic principles into place to make us flourish, all those aspects lead into what people see as the Aggie athletic experience.
I think it is from being a student-athlete in the UC System, playing football down at UCLA and going to school there. Then I struggled through business school, but having the opportunity to be around that surrounded me with excellence.
What does Aggie Pride mean to you?
Constantly moving forward is what we want to see in Aggie Athletics. And that’s what people talk about when they’re saying Aggie Pride, they mean moving forward, which is what always happened at the Division II level.
We need to do that in Division I. Just like you do it on the academic side, that’s what we need to do on the athletic side. And we’re all going to get it done; we have great people here.
— Matthew Yuen