As part of our investigation into the state of Texas State Athletics, I had an opportunity to speak with student leaders, alumni, and sources close to student-athletic department interactions at the school and get their thoughts on everything Bobcat sports. I asked them what they thought about the athletic department, athletic director Larry Teis, what they've done well, and what could be improved upon.
Because of various professional and personal connections to the university and athletic department, these sources chose to speak only on condition of anonymity, but be aware that these are passionate, committed individuals with nothing but a desire for greatness for Texas State University. They go to games, buy season tickets, and many of them know and interact with the players on campus.
These individuals who are active in the Bobcat community noted some positive steps have been taken in the past few years with the Drive to FBS, but by and large their sentiments reflected the general atmosphere of restlessness that is prevalent among many who closely follow the program.
Recent graduates and alumni who still actively follow the program and had no ax to grind against the athletic department were still skeptical of the overall direction of Bobcat athletics. Responses from engaged alumni ranged from a measured hope that things will improve at a quicker pace to outright criticism of the department. One Alumni Association member who actively played a prominent role in promoting the program and trying to better the university pulled no punches in his assessment of Bobcat athletics:
Its been clear to me, since I was a freshman to now, a graduate, that every move made by the athletic department has been fueled by outside pressure rather than the initiative to build a competitive and relevant program. From the lazy transition from the bottom dwelling WAC to the basement dwelling Sun Belt, it seems that the department here is satisfied with seeing where the current takes them rather than carving their own path.
From my personal interactions with young alumni, this isn't a lone disgruntled voice but is instead a somewhat common sentiment. Most are proud of the progress that has been made since 2005, but there's also widespread frustration at the school's reactive instead of proactive approach to athletics.
Mistrust Between Students and the Athletic Department
The confusion and disorganization alleged by internal department sources was also echoed by students who have interacted with the athletic department in the past.
Current and former student leaders described an atmosphere between their groups and the athletic department lacking in trust and consistency.
Well we have had an interesting relationship with the athletic department. We have had tons of help from some (within the department) and not so much with others.
It seemed that they had their own way about what they wanted to do. That being said its better than the Southland Conference days.
It always comes down to the higher ups (when it comes to organizational decision making), always.
Basically there's just a total disconnect and apparent lack of respect between (the) AD and everyone else.
There's a few student groups who want to keep pushing (for new ideas to increase school spirit), but then they get bogged down in all the bureaucracy.
If we had a game or two in every sport wear vintage jerseys accepting the history, that would help tremendously. I work in Austin and everyday if I'm wearing a TXST shirt I have SWT alumni come up to me upset.
We seem to be a school that opened in 1999 instead of 1899.
Students also attributed much of the disconnect on the leadership (or lack thereof) of reclusive athletic director Larry Teis, whose interaction with the student body has reportedly been slim to none.
We have basically zero interaction with Larry.
There's just no drive in the AD, it's like they got us here and don't care past that.
Student 1: I mean, if we roll into Tallahassee and get the win, none of this matters anyway.
Me: Yup. Larry Teis could get a statue of him made if Texas State beat FSU.
Student 2: And that's the problem, isn't it? Settling with leadership.
How long has Larry Teis been here? (Since 2004). And we made the NCAA tournament in three out of eight sports in that time. Volleyball, softball, and baseball.
Minor correction: Technically the Bobcats did make the Division 1-AA/FCS tournament in 2005 and 2008.
We need someone who can change everything about us.
They were also dissatisfied at recent missteps that may have hurt Texas State's chances at a bowl invite during the 2014 season.
I know you mentioned this Will but not putting Bowl deposits down was SO DUMB. (The Athletic Department) could have given the Armed Forces Bowl the numbers they needed to play UH.
As a Bobcat Club member I was willing to buy tickets and (the Loud Crowd) was figuring out how students were all going to get there.
Some Positives Cited
When it comes to relations between student groups and the athletic department, the long frosty relationship between the two is slowly being repaired, primarily because of faculty advisers with better relations with the athletic department than their predecessors.
More information about athletics is also being provided to student groups to help with their recruitment and participation levels than in the past. They also mentioned Associate Athletics Director Don Coryell as a positive figure who gets to know students and will advocate for student organizations whenever possible.
They also mentioned a new outreach effort by the Bobcat Club as a necessary and positive development for growing and maintaining student support before and after graduation.
The athletic department started a Bobcat student club and has hired 2 people to run it. They lowered the price to join it with the hope of getting the students in the habit of donating each year.
Culture change needed
Although they didn't mince words when it came to a perceived lack of effort by the athletic department on a number of fronts, student leaders also didn't spare any sympathy for alumni and the overall Texas State community.
Honestly the entire culture of the school needs to change. Flat out not enough people in the school give a shit.
I've been to more road games than some students have been to home games. That is pathetic.
When asked who they considered as having the most responsibility for changing the overall culture at Texas State, the students all said their fellow classmates or "Greek Life," not the athletic department. When it comes to what fuels apathy by the Bobcat fanbase, they didn't pull any punches, especially when it comes to alumni who don't return for games.
Laziness. A lot of it from what I've found is the divide between SWTers and TXSTers.
I mean there's now tens of thousands of grads who were TXST grads who have just vanished. The only people who seem to remotely care are a handful of newcomers and a handful of crotchety old grumps who live in BobcatFans forums.
It's more community outreach that I wish there was more of. And that's not only an AD problem but a (San Marcos Mayor Daniel) Guerrero problem...
Student 1: Also lets be honest. The San Marcos community is not affluent. And they don't have say $100x4 for football tickets for their families.
Student 2: I would love to see (the university) donate tickets off to the town just to get asses in seats.
Strong words there, and certainly not unwarranted. Students and alumni need to step up in a big way. More on that tomorrow, the final day of this series.
Our next installment of our investigation into Bobcat athletics will examine what Texas State needs to do to better sell its brand and repair relations with the Bobcat community.