Welcome back to the Red and Purple Interview on Catdomealumni.com. This is our first interview for 2008 and I had the absolute pleasure to trade email with long time Pacific University Athletic Director, Ken Schumann. For us that follow football in the Northwest Conference over the past few years there have been rumors about the return of football at Pacific. So instead of just let rumors float around I thought I’d go to the driving force behind Boxer athletics to find out more.
AD Schumann was great in being open to talk and I wanted to publicly thank him for taking the time out to give all of us the scoop about Boxer football and more.
(Wildcat 11) Thank you AD Schumann for joining us here at Catdomealumni.com. For the past three years fans that have been following Northwest Conference football have been hearing rumors and have seen the occasional article about Pacific considering a return to the gridiron. As of today, where does football stand on the priority list at Pacific? Have you been able to gain the support of the faculty and Board of Trustees?
(Ken Schumann) Football is a priority along with several other initiatives which we have been implementing over the past couple of years with the goal of upgrading the athletic program as a whole. Since the completion of our Business Plan in 2005 we have been in a fundraising phase. Upon successful completion of the fundraising process we would then take the football initiative before the University Faculty for a vote. If that vote is positive the initiative would then go to the Board of Trustees for final approval.
(WC 11) In reading the article, “University considers return of football” from Pacific Magazine in spring of ’07, it mentions that estimated start up costs would be in the neighborhood of $1.25 million dollars. How close are you to this number and how has the Pacific alumni base responded to the fundraising campaign?
(KS) We currently are slightly over halfway toward our goal for funding start-up costs over a three-year period. All of the support we have received so far has come from alumni and friends of Pacific.
(WC 11) In 2008 the NWC will now be awarded with an automatic playoff bid for our conference champion. However, many teams in our conference still face the big issue of scrambling for non-conference opponents each season to fill their schedule and wind up either playing NAIA or DII teams or having to take costly flights to the Mid-West. Have the other football members of the NWC been in full support of football coming back to Forest Grove? Do you think the NWC is in great need of an 8th member to help bolster our schedules and to help alleviate some travel costs?
(KS) From the feedback I have received from other football playing members of the NWC there is solid support for the sport of football returning to Pacific. I believe that other conference members understand that it would be of great benefit to the football institutions to have a football program at Pacific for a variety of reasons; scheduling, budgeting and enhanced competition within the conference are just a few of the benefits.
(WC 11) From an outside perspective it appears that Pacific is in a transformation period within the athletic department. The Lincoln Park Athletic Complex opened up this past fall with soccer. In a short time, the spring sports teams move into their new digs. It feels that the University is making a push to increase the profile of athletics on campus. Is that a fair statement and do you see Lincoln Park being the future home of Boxer Football?
(KS) I would agree that athletics at Pacific are in a transformation period. It is my goal as Director of Athletics to have programs which are very competitive within the Northwest Conference and Division III across the board. The new facilities at Lincoln Park are a part of that effort and are first class in every way. If we are successful in bringing football back to Pacific the home for the program at least in the short term will be Hillsboro Stadium. I do not anticipate football being played at the facilities in Lincoln Park.
(WC 11) The NWC is rather diverse in its style of play, and this is probably putting the cart in front of the horse, but do you have an idea of what style of football you want your future Head Coach to bring to Pacific?
(KS) My belief is that the style of play is secondary to other characteristics the coaching staff would bring that are even more important. First, the Head Coach needs to be an individual of strong character and one who understands and is committed to the D-III philosophy and fits with the philosophy and culture of Pacific. Also, the head coach and staff need to be strong in the area of recruiting and committed to recruiting student-athletes who will be successful academically, athletically and socially at Pacific. As far as style goes, I would think that it would be difficult for a start-up program to have much success with a run first philosophy. Spreading out defenses can be somewhat of an equalizer until the size, depth and athleticism in your program is built up.
(WC 11) This is a little off topic but there’s a movement on a national level within Division III that is looking at a possible split into a 4th division of classification. There is a lot of speculation and unanswered questions about who would want to move and how the divisions would be split. It appears that there are some clear philosophical differences between the newer membership in Division III and the old guard in terms of various regulations within the current DIII. Have you been involved in these discussions at this past National Convention and do you see Pacific and the NWC supporting a possible “Division IV” classification?
(KS) No I do not see the NWC or Pacific being in support of a Division IV or a possible subdivision of Division III. I believe that the conference is united in our belief of the merits of Division III.
(WC 11) OK, last question. With the best case scenario when can we expect the Boxers to take the field again? 2009, 2010?
(KS) If we are able to reach our fundraising goals in the next few months the most optimistic scenario would be to play in the fall 2009 season. However, the most likely scenario at this point is 2010. But again all of this is based on meeting our Business Plan goals for fundraising monies for three-year start-up costs as well as affirmative votes by the University Faculty and Board of Trustees. If those goals are not reached then we will not be bringing football back in the near future.
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