BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – In April, Ball State University athletics scored a major win – not on the football field or basketball courts – but in the front office. Much like the university did when it hired football coach Pete Lembo from a non-Mid-American Conference school, the athletic director position was filled from outside the conference. And the Cardinals did not settle for any small school administrator. Instead, they hired University of Notre Dame Deputy Director of Athletics Bill Scholl.
“It was great to get the call from Ball State,” he said during a visit to Kokomo. “I am looking forward to a great and long-term relationship with the school.”
The 1979 Irish graduate arrived at BSU after a 22-year career at Notre Dame and has extensive experience in marketing as well as being a football administrator. One of his major duties at Notre Dame was overseeing the Rockne Heritage Fund – the first-ever athletics annual fund that directly benefits student-athlete grant-in-aid scholarships. He also served as senior associate athletics director where he was the director for marketing and was executive director of the Notre Dame Monogram Club, an organization of Notre Dame student-athletes, student managers and cheerleaders who have earned monograms at Notre Dame.
In addition, Scholl oversaw all aspects of the athletics ticket office, including ticketing, parking, staffing, systems and customer relations. His previous sport administration duties included providing supervision for the men’s soccer as well as assisting the director of athletics with the men’s basketball program. He also served as director of financial development for the 1987 International Summer Special Olympic Games. Scholl served in the same position for one year at South Bend’s Logan Center which offers services to persons with developmental disabilities.
And now he brings that wealth of experience to Muncie and the Cardinals athletics program – and he said he was already knee deep in work. But before he talked about the department, he talked Cardinals football.
“I got here in time to watch some spring football and liked what I saw,” he said. “I am really excited to see how we look despite the tough schedule – and that is something we will work on in the future. Last year was a great turn-around year and the guys are really excited.”
He said as far as the department is concerned, it wants to put the athletes first – and he liked what he saw in exit interviews from previous letter-winners.
“I went back and read some exit interviews (of our student-athletes) and they have been having good experiences,” said Scholl. “I hope that doesn’t change, but I hope we can make those experiences even better.”
He said one of the ways to make the program better is in the win-loss column – and that in-turn puts more smiles on student-athletes faces.
“I think the MAC and other conference’s judge you on your overall play and we haven’t fared very well lately,” he said. “And we would like to see us moving towards the upper-half, if not the top, of the MAC in as many sports as possible. I think fielding successful teams is a critical piece of where we go.
“Now, that being said, we have to match resources to expectations. We can’t just wish for it, and we will be spending a lot of time acquiring the resources to make our facilities better.”
He also talked about his coaching staff, and on first glance, he likes what he sees.
“I think we have a great group of coaches,” said Scholl. “They are a key piece to this whole equation and I think we are in good shape for the most part. We just need to give them the tools necessary to succeed.”
And that relates to one of the major reasons Ball State hired Scholl – his sports marketing background.
“I have a background in forming corporate partnerships,” he said. “I think creating and developing revenue streams is something that the big schools are very good at. I think that is a very transferable skill that I have and can bring to Ball State. I have also seen collegiate programs at the absolute highest level – and I know there is more to a program than just wishing for something. You have to make a commitment, and I hope I have the ability to show people what it takes to get there.”
Ball State’s hiring of Bill Scholl appears be a big step in the right direction as the Cardinals athletic program moves towards being the “it” athletic program of the MAC and other mid-major conferences. Chirp! Chirp!