By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
NATCHITOCHES – Addressing a room filled with curious and excited Northwestern State supporters, coaches, staff and current competitors Thursday, Kevin Bostian outlined the cornerstones of his approach to his new job as the Demons’ athletics director and he made his top priority crystal clear.
“I’m here to serve our student-athletes, first and foremost,” said the 43-year-old North Carolina native, whose two decades in athletic administration have carried him to six various Division I programs around the Southeast, from North Carolina State to East Tennessee to South Alabama to … .
“Our goals for you are 1) you earn your degree in the major of your choice; 2) you win a championship in your sport; and 3) and we develop you as a leader, so that after you leave NSU, you become a leader in the community you serve. If we do those three things, we’re doing our job.”
As he was introduced on campus, along with his wife, their three young daughters and his parents, Demon fans certainly had questions. Why was UNC Greensboro’s executive associate AD the choice to step in for 25-year veteran head Demon Greg Burke? What attracted a man who admittedly had never visited North Louisiana and only made a few trips to New Orleans, to Natchitoches and NSU?
Answers: an accomplished resume’ focused on revenue generation, and references confirming he is a team builder with a servant-leader approach; and he’s a guy who sees a charming small town as a great place for his family, with conditions favorable for leading NSU forward.
The most relevant question – how can he help the Demons’ athletic program regain its swagger, and specifically, team up with coach Brad Laird to make NSU football great again (or at least, over .500 for the first time since 2008)?
Especially considering he comes from UNCG, where the Spartans don’t have the sport. And he didn’t even play football in high school at Durham, N.C., where basketball rules.
Bostian was a prep baseball and basketball guy who played a year on the diamond at Division II Chowan, before storing his bats and gloves and joining the general student population at NC State. He does, however, have football bonafides in his administrative career.
Along his way, he arrived for four years at Georgia Southern, which had claimed six FCS titles, as the Eagles moved into FBS and immediately went unbeaten, the only program ever to do that in the transition phase. The next year, GSU won its first bowl game. He spent three years at Tennessee Tech when Watson Brown (brother of Mack) coached that flock of Eagles to their first Ohio Valley Conference championship in 35 years.
“I have seen football success up close,” Bostian told the Journal. “I know what it takes, I know what it needs to look like. That’s something I’ll talk with Brad about, find out what resources he needs to be successful, specific to NSU, and we’ll work on it together.”
Collaboration is vital to success, he believes. That process started Thursday and will continue as he arrives to take over Monday, Feb. 7. How’s that work, with nobody you knew before this week?
“I’ll reach out to every head coach, and staff members, by the phone, and introduce myself and begin getting to know them. I’ve got a 100-day plan for the department that we’ll start putting in place. It’s a lot of analyzing the department. The first day I arrive, every coach and staff member will get a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis form to fill out, and I’ll meet with everybody one-on-one, discuss and put our thoughts together to see what we need to get done.”
Bostian gets to hire his right hand. NSU’s deputy AD/senior woman administrator position opened last August and President Marcus Jones chose to wait for the new AD to fill it, pausing the search as Burke’s move across campus to university advancement developed.
“That’s going to be key. That position is an internal position, and obviously I’m an external guy who needs to be out there engaging our stakeholders. You need someone to run the day-to-day aspects of the department, somebody who will work well with coaches,” Bostian said.
“I don’t want a micro-manager, but somebody who coaches can feel confident in to address concerns or needs. I want somebody who’s been around, who knows the game, and an extra bonus if it’s somebody familiar to some degree with Northwestern State. But it will be the best fit, the best person I can get,” he said. “That’s a critical position and we’ll start on that right away.”
Along with dozens of other initiatives, no doubt.
Photo by CHRIS REICH/NSU