Friday, June 24, 2011

Interview with Tom Hastings, UCSB Executive Associate Athletics Director

With the recent hiring of the Gaucho Women's basketball head coach and assistant coaches, the baseball head coach, and the men's basketball assistant coach, the UCSB Athletics Department has been a whirlwind of activity.  Tom Hastings, Executive Associate AD, External Affairs, was kind enough to check in with Gaucho Hoops during this very busy off-season.  We touched on a variety of topics, and here is a recap: 

Gaucho Hoops (GH):  The men's volleyball had a magical run that just fell short in the national championship final, against long odds.  What can we learn from that? 

Tom Hastings (TH):  Our expectations for that team last year were really high. We felt that with our coaching staff and the 8 seniors we had, that we were poised all year to make that run. I think, more than anything else, it re-energized our volleyball community and our alumni base. Certainly it has sparked some interest on the recruiting trail as well and we hope that our coaches can capitalize on that.

GH:  Speaking of national championships, the hosting of soccer's College Cup at Harder Stadium was a resounding success.  Are there plans for UCSB to host College Cups in the future?  Can you expand on the benefits to UCSB Athletics and the Santa Barbara community in hosting the Cup? 

TH: We are certainly interested in hosting the Cup again. At this point we are waiting for the NCAA to open the bidding process for 2012 and beyond which, we are told, should happen in the fall. The benefits to the community and our University were several:
  • Out of town visitors brought in, we think somewhere close to $1-million in economic impact.
  • Having UCSB and Santa Barbara showcased on ESPN is exposure you just can’t get anywhere else. And when you get an 80+ degree day on December 12, people really take notice of just how beautiful and special Santa Barbara and this campus is.
GH:  Since the interview with Mark Massari <click here>, UCSB has implemented some marketing ideas to enhance the "Loco" experience.  With the help of another Big West championship, are we seeing higher attendance, more donations, and increased fan interest, also?  Can we expect a return of Thunder to the Thunderdome? 

TH: We will always work to increase fan interest and donor involvement. They are paramount to the future success of our department, particularly in this time of unprecedented crisis in the UC system. Our Gaucho Fund donors responded this year with the highest ever level of annual giving. Its truly incredible when the overwhelming majority of our donors are not UCSB alums. We think they support us because we run a clean, sound department and have terrific young men and women who compete at the highest levels.

In specific terms of the ‘Loco’ experience. We will continue to offer special promotions, incentives and opportunities for our students. Ask every one of our student-athletes and they will tell you just how much of a bump they get from a packed crowd. When the Thunderdome is rocking, there is no place like that and Locos make the difference. We want that at all of our venues.

GH:  Have the successive runs into the NCAA's raised UCSB's visibility from a national perspective?  What can fans do to maximize the momentum of our recent success in men's basketball? 

TH: There is no doubt that men’s basketball’s visibility has raised our National profile. It also boosts the school pride of everyone at UCSB, from current students to alumni. I think for fans to maximize it, they need to come and watch us play, get involved and really understand what we are about.

GH:  Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to discuss Gaucho athletics, Tom.

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