Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of 10 N-Sider columns that will count down Nebraska's journey to become an official member of the Big Ten Conference on July 1, 2011. This column focuses on Pat Logsdon, Nebraska's Associate Athletic Director and Sr. Woman Administrator. The Countdown to the Big Ten series will culminate with an N-Sider on Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delany on July 1.
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Q: Working for the Athletic Department for 31 years, you've seen major change, but nothing, I'm assuming, that compares to Nebraska leaving longtime rivals to join the oldest conference in the country. How excited are you personally about joining the Big Ten?
A: We have developed great relationships and rivalries over the years with the Big Eight and Big 12. While those will be missed, sometimes change is good and creates opportunities. I'm excited about the new opportunities that lie ahead not only for the Athletic Department, but also for the University as a whole.
Q: With duties that include oversight on all administrative issues and operational functions for the Athletic Director's office, what's been your primary role in helping Nebraska transition to the Big Ten?
A: Since the announcement that we were joining the Big Ten, the conference office has been working hard to ensure a smooth integration. For the past year, I have been involved in all Big Ten meetings, conference calls and correspondence. I have served (and will continue to serve) on the Administrators Council, which includes the Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator (SWA) from each member institution. I also serve on the Joint Group, which consists of the ADs, SWAs and Faculty Athletic Representatives from each institution. In addition, I serve on the Sports Management Committee, which includes two senior-level athletic department administrators from each institution with sports administration responsibilities.
Q: From a process perspective, what were the stickiest issues you've seen over the past year as Nebraska prepared to switch conferences?
A: I wouldn't call it a sticky issue, but it has been interesting to still be a member of the Big 12 Conference, but not attend meetings, participate in conference calls, etc., because the focus is primarily on the future. On the other hand, we have been included in everything regarding the Big Ten, but do not have voting privileges until we officially become a member on July 1.
Q: What's the biggest challenge for Nebraska making this monumental move?
A: I would call them adjustments rather than challenges, and I would say the top two would be our teams traveling to new destinations and the differences between Big 12 and Big Ten Conference rules both as a whole and within each sport.
Q: In your mind, what do you consider to be the greatest opportunity in making this change?
A: The greatest opportunity for our teams is to make an immediate impact and to strengthen the conference overall by competing for Big Ten championships.
Q: You spent six seasons as Nebraska's director of football operations. You were, in fact, the first female in Division I to serve in that capacity. How did that experience prepare you to oversee all the functions that report to you now?
A: I am fortunate and grateful that Coach Osborne gave me the opportunity to serve in that role where I worked with a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds, had direct experience with recruiting, game day operations, team travel, budgeting, compliance, scheduling, and overseeing the general operational functions for the football program. That experience has enabled me to have a great understanding of how our sports operate as well as how they interact with all of the support areas within our department. I believe my organizational, communication and people skills improved as a result, and that, in turn, has helped me become a better leader in our department.
Q: As associate athletic director, football operations still reports into you. How different is that job today compared to when you had that position?
A: I don't necessarily view the position as changing much since that time, but over the past 10 years, there has been an increase in the size of the football non-coaching support staffs around the country.
Q: You have overall management responsibility for athletic medicine and nutrition - two areas that don't get much public attention but are critical areas for both student-athlete welfare and recruiting. Tell us why.
A: I believe both play a huge role in our student-athletes' success in their sport as well as their lives after sports. We have a fantastic athletic medicine staff and facilities that make us a leader in personal care. We place great importance in the area of nutrition as evidenced by the fact that we have two full-time sports nutritionists to help our student-athletes meet their physical and training goals. We also take great pride in our training table and have an excellent staff that ensures our student-athletes have high quality, performance-based foods. While these areas may not get the media attention that other areas receive, I can tell you they are critical and play a large factor in our recruiting success. Parents find great comfort in knowing we are concerned about the total well-being of their sons and daughters.
Q: You've met your SWA colleagues in the Big Ten. Explain why you're looking forward to life in a new league and how things will be different?
A: I think it will be an opportunity for me to grow and expand my knowledge of how other institutions operate as well as share ideas with my counterparts. While it will be a new group of colleagues that I'm working and meeting with, overall I do not see things being that different.
Q: You focus on travel and budget. Joining the Big Ten will require Nebraska to spend considerably more than what was required to compete in the Big 12. How do you plan for travel Nebraska hasn't made in the past?
A: All of our sports have been talking to their counterparts at Big Ten schools to determine what hotels they have stayed in at each Big Ten city, finding answers to questions about accommodating team needs for meals, meeting room space and even which bus companies are best to work with. There is no sense for us to reinvent the wheel when other teams have been willing to share their experiences with us in each location.
Q: There's been a certain spirit of communication, cooperation and collaboration in Big Ten transition meetings in Chicago and Lincoln. Describe the collegiality you sense when the nation's oldest conference takes on a rare new member.
A: The Big Ten has done a fantastic job of including Nebraska in all of its meetings, conference calls and correspondence, so we are well prepared come July 1. My counterparts at the other Big Ten schools have been more than willing to share information and answer questions, and I appreciate the inclusiveness over the past year.
Q: In addition to your other duties, you directly oversee softball, women's gymnastics and rifle. Softball and gymnastics had tremendous seasons in their final year in the Big 12, and rifle has posted some strong finishes in the past. Give us a quick state-of-the-union on all three sports.
A: Softball completed this year with a 41-14 record. With only two seniors graduating and the young talent Coach (Rhonda) Revelle has coming back, combined with great recruits that have committed to our program, the future looks bright for our softball team. I have no doubt that we will be extremely competitive not only in the Big Ten, but nationally as well.
Gymnastics completed its season tying for our best finish ever, finishing fourth in the NCAA Championships. While we lost some key competitors in the senior class, there's a lot of young talent, and I know they are looking forward to competing in the Big Ten as well as making it back to Nationals next year. Coach (Dan) Kendig has had to replace his two assistant coaches as they both secured head coaching jobs at BCS schools, so it will be a fun year for gymnastics, and we look forward to welcoming two new coaches into the Husker family.
I believe we will have an improved Rifle team next season, and I know Coach (Morgan) Hicks and her team will not settle for anything less than competing for the GARC Championship and making it to the NCAA Championships.
Q: I heard a rumor that you're taking a 300-mile bike ride this summer and Rhonda Revelle is part of the same trip. I thought summers were designed for relaxation, not grueling grinds.
A: Everyone needs a challenge, and I'm not the type to have an inactive summer, so why not go outside your comfort zone and take on a new adventure?
Q: Last question: How will you celebrate personally when Nebraska becomes an official member of the Big Ten Conference on July 1?
A: This move isn't about me personally, but rather our department and our University. I think we're all looking forward to our inaugural year in the Big Ten, and we're embracing all of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
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