William Broussard used to keep his hair short.
But in the past 12 months, he made a change. Lately, haircuts have become increasingly rare.
Broussard, who officially started as Southern’s athletic director Monday, explains it this way: Most grown men go into the barber shop for a haircut, then stick around for a story or two. Before they know it, they’ve blown an entire afternoon in the same chair.
And frankly, Broussard doesn’t have that kind of time.
A man who went from walk-on center to All-American; who earned his doctorate from Arizona, then broke fund-raising records as an athletic administrator at Northwestern State (while serving as assistant journalism professor); and now comes to Southern at 33 years old, Broussard is known for somehow squeezing 30 hours into 24-hour days.
He inherits an athletic department in need of a super-duper multi-tasker. Among many items on the menu: Southern has a site visit with the NCAA next week regarding certification, and the men’s basketball team is waiting to hear if it will be eligible for postseason play next year.
And the football team is coming off a 6-16 record in two years under Stump Mitchell. Season-ticket sales are down, and fan morale is low.
Other than that, it’s all rainbows and unicorns at SU.
Broussard discussed those matters and others Monday during his introductory press conference. Here are pieces of his question-and-answer session with The Advocate.
You (previously) mentioned what it took for you to gain weight for college football. Can you re-tell that story for us?
“I finished playing high school ball at about 235 pounds, and I was very interested in trying to play offensive line at the college level, but not heavy enough to do it. So I got recruited by several Division III schools, which are non-scholarship. The academic aid I would’ve received would’ve been considerable, but still not enough. So I got accepted to the Louisiana Scholars College at Northwestern State University, and I got a full academic scholarship and decided to walk on.”
“I spent that summer, up every morning, eating a half-dozen eggs six, seven times a day, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
“I would get up at 4:30 in the morning, have a protein shake and a couple of eggs. Then I’d go back to sleep, then wake up and eat breakfast. I mean, the dietary side of it was every bit as arduous for me as lifting weights and getting in condition.
“But I got up to about 255 pounds, going into my freshman year. So, to put on 20 pounds, naturally, in about four or 4½ months’ time, I was hitting it. But even throughout college, I played at about 260, 265 pounds. It was very difficult to maintain. I was on a 7,000-calorie-a-day diet, eating all day and very regimented — along with the rigor of being in an honors college. It was pretty rigorous.”
Your parents were teachers, correct?
“Yes. High school. My dad started out teaching and coaching, and my mom was a high school counselor. Then, they worked their way up. Dad eventually became an assistant principal. Mom went to the central office in Acadia Parish, and my dad joined her shortly thereafter. My mom was testing for the parish, sort of the supervisor for all the counselors, and my dad was superintendent for child welfare and attendance.”
Are they still with us?
“No. Dad passed away in ’99, and Mom passed away shortly thereafter, in 2001. I was 20 when Dad died, and I had just turned 22 when my mom died. … It all happened so quickly. I mean, we were just sort of tying up all the loose ends from Dad dying and getting all that squared away, and my mom moved to Biloxi, where my sister was a news anchor at the time. We had gotten her moved for maybe six months. My wife and I got married. Then three months after my wife and I got married. …
“It happened so, so fast. Cancer. Both of them.”
Wow. … In regards to football and the APR. I want to make sure I’m crystal-clear about that. Are they out of the woods? As you understand it, they’ll be eligible to play in the championship game?
“I’d have to look into that one. Basketball, we’re hoping to get a ruling from the NCAA that would allow us to get into the postseason.
“Actually, the NCAA is going to look at a special designation with what they call low-resource institutions, that would take those previously assigned penalties, wipe them clear, and then look at this thing looking forward.
“Nothing is certain yet, but we may have an opportunity with men’s basketball to get those penalties basically removed.”
If the NCAA shoots you down, do you know where men’s basketball would stand with that?
“They’re in the middle of a three-year probation. They just completed the first year of it. Otherwise, they’ll be banned from the postseason two more years.”
“I feel pretty good. Generally, the NCAA would not send out that notice unless they felt pretty good about it. The (NCAA) wouldn’t work to actually go through and amend the legislation, and reproach some of those previous penalties, unless they felt like it was going to happen. So we feel pretty confident about that.”
Southern was certified with conditions last year, and you’re trying to get re-certified, obviously. What must you do?
“It’s one condition, and we’ve got to focus on gender equity. That’s a tough one. Any mid-major institution that’s a low-resource institution, such as we are that has football — it’s going to be a challenge with gender equity. You can’t throw all your effort into ticket sales for football, then ignore your softball team and volleyball team. It’s got to be balanced. So the good and the bad of the NCAA recertification, every seven to 10 years, is that it’s an arduous task. But it’s good to have that reminder built in, because if you did it every 20 years, you have 20 years of imbalance. Five to seven years of imbalance can be remedied in a year or two.”
As it relates to Title IX, isn’t there any one of three prongs you can use to satisfy it?
“That’s only for Title IX, but yes. Gender equity is a larger umbrella. It’s not just Title IX. They look at some other factors. But with Title IX, yes, there are three prongs.”
Regarding gender equity, what must to do to get straightened out, so to speak?
“Of course, the first prong they’re looking at is proportionality, in terms of student body. Most institutions of higher education are about 55-45, with more women, in higher ed. So that’s an unattainable standard for every Division I. The second prong would be proportionality with regard to scholarship allotments or resource allotments. Again, it’s the same thing: When you have football, there’s going to be an imbalance. So virtually every mid-major institution, like us, is looking at the third prong, which is either expanding sport opportunities for women, responding to requests to add sports that you have a sort of buildup for, or a track record of making things equitable. So if you have multiyear contracts for men’s sport coaches, you do it for women. If you have program cars or dealer cars, you do it for women. That’s the area where we’re going to make our focus, because that’s the most attainable of the three standards.”
In other words, women’s coaches — maybe you look at them getting multiyear contracts?
“Right. And looking into facilities, to see what improvements we can make there. As we, through attrition, lose coaches, focusing more on hiring more female coaches to fill those positions. I mentioned (strength and conditioning) coach (Corliss) Fingers because I’m thrilled about her hire. I mean, that is incredibly unique. We have one of only a few female head strength and conditioning coaches in the country, and her pedigree is just amazing. I mean to have her undergraduate (degree) from UNC, experience as a track athlete there, and to go to Maryland from there, that’s incredible to get her there. But again, that’s unique. And that’s one of the ways you show a commitment — to go into that pool and identify a position where … it’s an example of a way that you can state that kind of commitment to gender equity.”
As you may or may not know, Southern dropped women’s golf and men’s tennis a couple years ago. Is there any chance that perhaps you need to look into adding a women’s sport to help with the balance?
“Adding sports is very likely going to be a part of what we do to move forward, to demonstrate our commitment to gender equity. I haven’t made a decision on what sports that would be. But any sport could be an addition. Women’s golf could certainly be something that we look back to adding. It’s got to be something that we can do affordably. It’s got to be something to where, there is a tradition here. I think that could be helpful. But having a sport where we could recruit here in-state, obviously, is important, as well. There’s a lot of factors to consider. Certainly, women’s golf would be one of the sports we would consider.”