After a couple action-packed weeks, Portland State is in an unfamiliar position–there is finally excitement surrounding Viking athletics. Here is the rundown: Tim Walsh is out, Jerry Glanville is in, both basketball teams are in the Big Sky tournament and the athletic director search is nearing its end.
After a couple action-packed weeks, Portland State is in an unfamiliar position–there is finally excitement surrounding Viking athletics.
Here is the rundown: Tim Walsh is out, Jerry Glanville is in, both basketball teams are in the Big Sky tournament and the athletic director search is nearing its end. And, before I forget, athletics at Portland State actually has a pulse.
The way things are going in the Park Blocks, don’t be surprised if Portland State is favored in the Final Four or national championship game in five years. Well, that is what university President Daniel Bernstine and his posse want us to believe. But, before I buy into that hogwash, I expect him to accomplish a few simple tasks first.
The first order of business to ensure Portland State propels into the upper echelon of collegiate sports is hiring the right person for the AD position. Viking Nation needs someone who is energized and devoted to changing the face of PSU athletics. We need a person who will strive to do whatever it takes to put more butts in the stands and W’s in the win column.
Whoever is next to occupy the athletic director’s office needs to market athletics to the people who really matter-the students. Anyone who has attended a game at the Stott Center or PGE Park surely knows that Viking fans are rare. I am not sure if it is the water or that Portland State students completely loathe sports, but the fact is we neither “Stuff the Stott” nor “Pack PGE.”
At an open forum I attended last week, AD candidate Torre Chisholm had some great ideas for how to solve this reoccurring problem. Chisholm suggested creating an active, working “spirit” group. It’s a simple solution, but one that might just work to satisfy Portland State’s most pressing need-a festive crowd atmosphere.
It would be a dream to walk into a completely packed, rowdy Stott Center to catch a basketball game. I can’t even imagine how much fun that would be. The team would be really good, the fans extra loud and maybe even the cheerleaders would be on cue for once. It is just a dream for the time being, but it could be reality if Bernstine commits to athletics.
Another key for Bernstine and the Viking AD of the future is increasing funding to athletic programs and improving the quality of facilities. I know this is easier said than done, but the reality is that the Stott Center is claustrophobically small and PGE Park houses so many teams it has the feel of a used napkin. Part of the new face of Viking athletics should be finding Viking athletics a new home.
Gathering up enough green is always an issue. So, Bernstine should shell out some dollars to renovate our venues, because, as we know, they could all use a face-lift. Money will come out of Bernstine’s wallet faster if Viking fans pack our current facilities. Come out in bunches, waves or whatever you desire. But, remember, if we start to pack the Stott Center and there aren’t enough seats, that is a financial liability that can only be resolved by building a bigger stadium with all the bells and whistles. Force Bernstine to give us what we want.
All of the buzz around Viking Nation during the past couple weeks has been, in a word, exciting. I loved seeing Portland State mentioned on ESPN.com after Glanville was hired. I thought it was fabulous to witness the litany of media members who packed a conference room in Smith Center the afternoon he was announced as the new head football coach. And, while the place wasn’t close to being sold out, it was refreshing to see the wave circle around the Stott Center at the Viking men’s tournament win over Montana State on Saturday.
Bernstine and the new AD need to remember this excitement isn’t an ending point, it is a jumping-off point. This is the start to a very special era for Portland State athletics, which only grows if the right people allow it to.
Don’t become content with this brief period of excitement, President Bernstine. Give Viking athletics what it really needs to grow into a national powerhouse.