A conversation with director of athletics Kevin Blue

MARK HONBO / UC DAVIS ATHLETICS COMMUNICATIONS

Blue comments on his first year in the position, goals for the upcoming school year, future

In May 2016, UC Davis named Kevin Blue its new director of athletics. Previously, he worked as the senior associate athletics director for external relations at Stanford University, where he served a seven-year tenure. During his time at Stanford he helped oversee relations with key sponsors such as the Pac-12 Network.

At UC Davis, Blue oversees all 23 athletic teams in a program that competes at the  NCAA Division I level. About 600 student-athletes included in these teams also compete in other various conferences, such as the Big West Conference, the Big Sky Conference, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the America East Conference and the Western Water Polo Association.

After coming into a high-level position, and finishing his first year as the director of athletics, The California Aggie had the chance to sit down with Kevin Blue to recap his first year as well as lay out plans for the current year and the future of UC Davis Athletics.

 

Last year [2016] was your first year as director of athletics. How do you feel it went?

I think it was a good year. There were a lot of positive steps forward in the athletic program. The campus community has been very supportive in my transition to the UC Davis campus and I have appreciated that very much. [I am] feeling optimistic about the direction of the athletics program as a part of the university.

 

What did you learn from your first year on the job and how does that affect how you are approaching this year?

I learned a lot of things, as I do every year. I would say at the top of that list is that I learned how invested our student athletes are in being successful not only in competition but in their academic work and preparing themselves to be successful for the rest of their lives. The student-athletes are a dedicated group of undergraduates, and that was reinforced to me during my first year. I also learned that when done well, athletics can be a valuable program for the university at large.

 

What were your goals going into your first year for UC Davis sports? Which goals were accomplished and which are still ongoing?

Strictly, we have goals from a fundraising standpoint that we exceeded last year and we hope to exceed them again this year. But we really just approach every day with the intent of improving the organization and are pretty focused taking it one day at a time. The results end up taking care of themselves.

 

Recently, there have been a lot of new coaching positions hired on various sports teams on campus. What was the general plan for all of these new hires?

We are always interested in bringing people into the organization that have the same value system as the university in regards to athletics: highly competent and are able to produce very competitive teams, while also embracing the scholar athlete ideal and all of the great things that go along with the university and its focus academically and in the community. The people we brought on board we feel represent that.

 

I have overheard players and coaches talking about your personal involvement in athletics, and how they appreciate your presence at games and trying to really develop a connection with the players. Any comments?

It’s a good question. We have 23 teams and many important needs, so I can only be at one place at one time, but I do try my best to experience first-hand our events and to be around our teams on a first-hand basis as much as possible. It really helps me understand the opportunities, successes and challenges that everybody faces.

 

In a perfect world, what does the future hold for UC Davis sports?

To tell you the truth, I would just like to see our teams continue to improve, to see a continuation of a building of enthusiasm among all the students and community members about athletics. I would like to see us be successful in continuing to fundraise effectively. I think that athletics has the opportunity and is increasingly serving as a rallying point for the university, and we would like to continue to build upon that.

 

Written by: Ryan Bugsch — sports@theaggie.org