Jamie PollardBig man on campus

Iowa State has experienced a revival in athletics the last ten years. Big name players such as Cael Sanderson, Seneca Wallace, Angie Welle, Jamaal Tinsley, and Marcus Fizer carried their respective teams to new levels and brought a remarkable amount of attention to the university. While each of these standouts gained fame by their performance on the mat, field and court, the new star on campus commands respect while wearing a suit and tie. This man is athletics director Jamie Pollard. The WEB got an exclusive interview with the man behind all of the changes at Iowa State University. The WEB: What were the things that you saw in Ames when you were in Wisconsin? Jamie Pollard: I wanted to go to a place where I could make a big difference athletically. Iowa State had a lot of qualities that I call sleeping giant-huge upside. That excited me because I’m more of a builder than a maintainer. W: How did you decide to become an athletic director? JP: I was a public accountant at Arthur Andersen and through that job I worked for an athletics director, who probably had the biggest influence on me. I gained over time an appreciation and respect for the job. There are good jobs, bad jobs, and hard jobs. This is a hard job. Sometimes there are days where I won’t trade anything for what I’m doing, but there are days where it was a heckuva a lot easier than being athletics director. I could coach little league and live without all of the arrows thrown at me. Having all of these challenges though is stimulating. It’s also addicting. W: What about the job is so addicting? JP: The job requires a tremendous amount of leadership. I enjoy, some don’t. What comes with leadership is a ton of responsibility and a huge amount of accountability. Usually people have a lot of answers when they don’t have the decision to make, but when they have the decision to make they don’t ever have the answer. Every day I deal with these situations, and it’s a very vibrant and exciting aspect of the job. W: How many hours a week do you work here? JP: I work in the office from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and if there’s a game I’ll be at Hilton till 10 p.m. In hours it’s probably 70-80 hours a week. A lot of it is at social functions because that’s what you do as athletics director. W: What was the whole deal with the firing of Wayne Morgan and the third party scheduling incident? JP: They weren’t related directly, the media made a much bigger deal of it than it really was. The issue that came out of that was there were a lot of issues with basketball at the time, some real, some perceived. That one dropped down at the wrong time, public perception wise. If there was only a little bit of air left in the balloon of basketball, the media popped the balloon. It contributed to our saying “we’ve got go in a different direction or we’re going to go nowhere.” W: Now to go to the Iowa-ISU football game, fans need season tickets. Would you explain your thinking behind that move? JP: I’m a big believer that if you want different results, you’ve got to try new things. As a leader if you do the same thing over and over and over and wonder why it always ends up the same way, you have nobody to fault by yourself. When we looked at the numbers from two years ago, we had 36,000 single game requests for that game. We need a good portion of those people to get season tickets. The response from our season ticket holders has been ecstatic, the response from Iowa fans hasn’t been the best, but that’s not my responsibility to worry about Iowa fans. It isn’t about just this one game, its about the mindset of an Iowa State fan and what they want for the long term good for the program. W: Do you foresee a time where you would consider bringing back baseball and swimming? JP: We want a broad based athletic program. We’d like to be in the position to being able to bring back baseball, tennis, and swimming. But it’s a longshot. We have a lot to do before getting in the position to do so. My analogy is that if you’re trying to make end meets to feed the family, the last thing you want to do is add another member of the family. To get to a point that we could add these sports we have to be successful in football. Football is what runs the athletic department. W: How did you go about getting Gene Chizik, a coach with such a sterling resume? JP: A lot of people said he was a rising star and he wouldn’t come to Iowa State. What people didn’t know about him was what matters to Gene Chizik. What I learned real quickly was some of the things that matter most to him are his family, faith, and having a sense that he’s working for people that really believe in him. We share the same faith, the same values, and we both like Dr. Geoffrey, which convinced him we were committed. W: Any advice for high school students who want to be involved in sports when they grow up. JP: You have to think about what your career is going to be. You don’t pick to be an athletics director when you go to school. There’s a lot of divisions within our athletics department. Within athletics, there are academic people, sports medicine people, communications folk, marketing people, business office. There are careers within athletics. Find out what you are good at and have a passion for and if you want you could probably find a career in athletics. W: What’s your favorite restaurant in Ames? JP: My joke is: I call this restaurant my Irish-Mexican Top 40 restaurant. O’Malley and McGees because it’s got an Irish name, serves Mexican food, and plays top 40 music. The people at Hickory Park won’t be happy about this. W: Nice chairs you’ve got here.