Chad Weiberg took over as Oklahoma State’s athletic director and, almost immediately, was thrust into crisis mode. Shortly after his watch began, OU and Texas forced their way to the SEC and put the Big 12’s future in jeopardy, and now the league is adding four new teams.
That all happened in a span of a few short months. Oh, and on top of that, the NIL era began as soon as he took over.
A real welcome party, it’s almost certainly not been for him.
Weiberg went on OSU’s “Orange Power Podcast” to discuss some of what he’s dealt with in his first few months on the job including conference realignment, facility upgrades, NIL and more. You can listen to the full episode here. I have picked out highlights of the conversation and transcribed them below.
• “Dr. Shrum was great through the conference realignment process, as were many people in the athletic department on our staff. Coaches were fantastic about being patient and providing that support and confidence. They were great about telling me that we were going to be fine, that they were going to be here. … Overall it’s a very transformative time in college athletics. Nothing replaces having smart, talented people on your team. That’s certainly how I’ve been able to manage it, one day at a time, working with our great people.”
• “[The additions of BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston] just happened. Now is when everybody is busy in college athletics. The best part of getting to where we are with the announcement coming out is that we have certainty with how we’re moving forward. We know at least who is going to be with us, we will be together and we are moving forward. It was the uncertainty that I think was the most potentially damaging to us. So having certainty with how we’re moving forward is really good.”
• “Those are four really good additions. I give Commissioner Bowlsby a lot of credit. They did a great job of putting the options together. As we worked through that it seemed pretty clear what the best options were for us. They are great institutions, all of them are large. They all have great athletic history and success, good fanbases. I think they will be really good additions. We added several states to our mix and even a time zone. For a lot of reasons I think it will be good not only for Oklahoma State but the entire Big 12 Conference.”
• “We’ll see [how the Big 12 is strengthened from a TV perspective]. Ten years ago [realignment] was driven by the size of your market and the cable/household viewership. It’s become more about the strength of your brand. People are consuming media in a very different way. I think that’s good news for Oklahoma State because we do have a strong brand. We are in a really good position.” Credits Boone Pickens and the football’s success under Gundy and Holder, as well.
• “With the addition of these four schools, I think [the best conference in college basketball] just got better. Really good basketball brands, basketball teams, history, tradition, fans. I think it’ll be a great thing for all of our sports. A lot of success across the board with those four and adding to the history and tradition of the Big 12.”
• “We’re all still learning through [the NIL] process. There weren’t many parameters, guidelines laid out for us. A lot has been providing tools to learn how to do this. INFLCR was a big part of that from the beginning. The Brandr Group is an exciting addition to that. What they do is group licensing. So instead of each individual athlete having to work out their own deals, they can sign up with The Brandr Group. What they does is allow them through Brandr to be co-branded with OSU. So in terms of apparel, they can have branded apparel with names on it, numbers. Trading cards, videogames, all those kinds of things. It’s a win-win for our athletes and a way our fans can engage with them during this process.”
• On facilities upgrades, including the new OSU wrestling locker room: “It’s important. Facilities are a key piece for the athlete experience to train and develop and compete at the highest level. It’s important for coaches to have those tools to recruit and attract the best talent. It’s not possible without great donors and supporters who are willing to step up and make those things possible. The donor is choosing to remain anonymous at this point but is nonetheless very passionate about being able to step out there. One of the first things that he and his wife wanted to do at this moment in time with his gift was to show resolve (with respect to uncertainty surrounding realignment). He made the commitment and wanted it to go towards enhancing the wrestling locker room facility. They have great space in terms of square footage, but it hasn’t been very well developed. The gift will be able to allow us to go in there and make it as nice a locker room as any of our teams have. It is wrestling’s turn, in that regard.
“We have a lot of things coming up that are planned. The regents announced we’re able to move forward with some facility renovations in the football stadium that will impact their locker room. It’s time for an upgrade there. It’s been well taken care of, but it is used and worn and things change, so we need to keep up with the times. So we’ll do a remodel. Then we’ll work on some of the recruiting aspects in the West End Zone. So we’ve got to make some adjustments with our physical structure. Those are two things with football we’ll do in the very short term. We also got approved to enhance the playing surface for Cowgirl softball. It doesn’t drain very well. Player safety issue, and also so we don’t get rain-outs. That will be a great addition, too.”
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