New Boise State athletic director Jeramiah Dickey has been on the job two months since he was hired on Jan. 3 to replace Curt Apsey. Dickey, who was previously the associate vice president for athletics at Baylor, sat down with the Idaho Press for a virtual interview this week to discuss his time at Boise State so far and his goals for the future.
Idaho Press: The men’s basketball team is obviously fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. What kind of impact would making the NCAA Tournament mean for your athletic department?
Jeramiah Dickey: “That’s a great question and I don’t have the exact dollar amount, but I think overall from how we tell our story and who we are and we’ve talked a lot about being a two-anchor department at minimum. For us to have the success, we’re no longer just Boise State that has a football program. We have a lot of great programs and 300-plus student athletes that I take very seriously in terms of my responsibilities and our team’s responsibilities. And, so, basketball, I can’t say enough about Leon and what he’s been able to do.
“It’s good to have expectations and Bronco Nation has high expectations and I have high expectations and I know coach Rice has high expectations. They’ve done a tremendous job this year and I’m disappointed that more fans haven’t had the opportunity to see them in person. I think that very much makes a difference and ties into the experience. Who knows what would have happened if we could have played a full schedule, so all things considered, I couldn’t be any more proud of the job that he’s done. He’s one of the best coaches in the country, hands down and I’m grateful for that. He’s a big reason why I’m here.”
IP: With that said, he’s slated to be the seventh-highest paid coach in the Mountain West next season. This is kind of a yearly thing where his name comes up in coaching rumors after the season. Is there something that’s going to be needed to be done to address his contract after the season?
JD: “Absolutely. Those are conversations. At the end of the day, that’s a testament to Leon. The fact that his name keeps coming up is because of how well he does. And my job is to always do what’s in the best interest of this department and institution and when I look at coach Rice, you couldn’t ask for a better man and leader of our student-athletes. That’s something that I will continue to have those conversations with Leon about and we will make sure that we do everything we can to fight the good fight and hold onto him. A lot has happened this season and quite honestly I haven’t even paid attention to what jobs are open, but Leon’s name should be mentioned, and that’s a testament to what he’s done here and to our program.”
IP: You mentioned needing multiple anchors and the basketball operating budget ranks seventh in the league. I know the athletic department is facing some budget challenges, but how do you guys try to elevate the recruiting budget, the coaching budget and all those things because it seems like some significant upgrades are needed to get on the playing field of San Diego State and some of the teams on the basketball side?
JD: “One hundred percent. I talk a lot about comparables and where we add from an industry standard and where are we at from a conference standard, but we don’t need what everyone else has. We need what we need to make sure that we have success. And that’s a big part of my job and one of the things that myself and our team ... we’re currently going through. When we look at the various buckets that impacts that, specifically maximizing our revenue opportunities, that is something that we have to be very intentional with and that will ultimately domino into supporting our programs at a higher level.
“I’ve been at a conference where we didn’t have as much as everyone else and we had just as much success if not more. That’s part of I think the Boise State way. You know we talk a lot about bleeding blue and blue collar and our work ethic. You can’t teach people how to work hard. Really what we’re doing is getting more strategic and we’re going to identify some new revenue streams and maximize anything and everything that’s out there that ultimately will tie back into us supporting the experience of our student-athletes and that includes men’s basketball, that includes women’s basketball and all the above.”
IP: Switching to football, the Alabama athletic director recently came out and said they are planning as of now to have full stadium capacity in the fall. Do you have any projections? Is the plan as of now to have 36,000 in there for the UTEP game or what’s the plan?
JD: “I think for what we can control in terms of how we’re moving forward with season tickets renewals, group tickets, etc., our community engagement which needs to be a priority. Yeah, we’re planning for a full stadium. Now I have a very small piece to that. That’s a very fluid situation and the health and safety of our fans and our student-athletes is a priority. As we’ve witnessed over the past year and coming up probably on a year to the day, you know everything is so fluid and things change daily and so we’re going to plan for best case scenarios and we’ll work with our various constituent groups and campus partners and the city on what that looks like for us in the fall, but that is an extremely important piece and very much ties back into revenue generation and the overall experience so we’re going to need to make sure that we get our ducks in a row.”
IP: Are you looking to have a spring football game and will there be fans for that?
JD: “That’s right. That’s the plan as of now. Once again it’s very fluid, but we feel comfortable with the protocols that have been implemented for all of our other sport programs, a minimum 900 and with the goal of having a lot more and what does that look like not sure. We have to take into account the health and safety protocols that are in place and we’ll navigate that with the appropriate parties, but yeah, for sure, we’ll have a spring game.”
IP: You mentioned somewhere else about wanting to meet with the top 100 donors in your first 100 days as athletic director. Where are you at with that list and what’s the goal and timeline for that and what’s the feedback been?
JD: “I probably am meeting with two to three on average daily, whether that’s virtually or in person. I’m probably close to 40 now I guess when it’s all said and done from the time that I arrived, and I’m going to continue that. I have meetings scheduled out right now through April and May. I may not hit exactly, which will bother me personally, but I may not hit exactly my 100-day plan in terms of meeting with individuals, but I can’t say enough about the people I talk to. All it does every time I talk to another donor is confirm why I’m here and in the opportunities that exist and how excited I am to be a part of it.
“There’s a tremendous amount of passion and support. I think with a little bit of guidance and us telling our story and getting them to visualize the direction we’re headed, I think there’s a lot of opportunity and opportunity ahead. The conversations have been outstanding. We have some really good people here and I can’t thank them enough — because even Curt Apsey and previous administrations and coaches, they did a great job building this brand and the people who’s been driving it, so I’m appreciative of that.”
IP: You mentioned Curt, the previous athletic director. He still works for the University. Have you had any conversations with him or asked for any advice or anything?
JD: “We have not spoken yet other than through email, but he is very much a part of this institution and team and I’m actually meeting with him this week. He’s a great man and he did a good job and I’ve said this before, but being an athletic director is difficult and every day is uncomfortable. There are a lot of decisions and things that cross your desk, so yeah, I very much am going to lean on Curt and talk to him. He’s been around a long time and has a lot of experience especially here, so I’m going to utilize him as much as I can.”
Portions of the interview were omitted due to space limitations.