New athletic director sets sights on the future
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 23:10
The Rick Costello era for PUC athletics began on Sept. 17. Costello brings to PUC years of experience as a college sports administrator, including stints in several NCAA Division 1 programs.
Coming from the top tier of college athletics to an NAIA school might raise a few eyebrows to the casual sports fan. Costello, however, is looking further down the road, to what PUC could be in the future.
Costello pointed to Chancellor Thomas Keon’s hometown university initiative as a big factor that attracted him to PUC.
“[Keon’s] vision for the university and for athletics is amazing,” Costello said. “It sounds like a great way to brand the university, reach out to Northwest Indiana and let them know about the outstanding programs on campus. I hope athletics can be an integral part of that.”
There are two main steps PUC looks atin raising the profile of PUC athletics. The first is to hire coaches for the spring sports of men’s baseball and women’s softball. Currently, the plan is to sign coaches by January, so they can have time to recruit players and field teams by Spring 2014.
“We’re going to open that up to national search, find the best candidates,” Costello said. “It’s a great opportunity to come in and build a baseball program from the ground floor. I think we’ll have a lot of interest, both in coaches and students.”
The second is the raising of funds, specifically to fund the Dowling Park project. This is where Costello sees his expertise.
As the Director of Athletics at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Costello secured the largest major gift and largest corporate sponsorship in the school’s history. He also saw the men’s basketball team’s season ticket sales increase by 80 percent.
Despite coming from a Division 1 program to a program not even in the NCAA, Costello shrugged off the idea that PUC will face greater difficulty raising funds.
“The key to any university is resources,” he said. “It’s a simple concept. Ticket sales, corporate sponsorship and fundraising.”
“The key is to get out to the community and raise our resources, and I’m not afraid to go out there and ask.”
Costello also hopes to raise PUC’s profile among students and the surrounding community. He related some experiences putting on contests and gimmicks during games at UWM as a possible way to increase fan interest.
“It’s about getting [fans] excited about what they’re doing,” he said.
Costello admits that raising PUC’s profile will take time, but says he is ready to take the task of building such a program head on.
“I’m excited about the challenge,” he said. “You wouldn’t do these jobs if you weren’t excited about building [the program] up.”