Spicer settles in as Mesa’s AD
Tom Spicer stops for a second to glance out the window of his corner office at The Maverick Center.
“I’ll tell you what, this is nice. I’ve got to find a house that’s got this view,” the new athletic director at Colorado Mesa University says, eyeing the view to the west, then to the north.
The second is over, and Spicer is quickly settles in behind his desk. The day planner open on the desk is filled with appointments every morning, noon and night. On the corner is a binder that’s already full of notes and project ideas.
He just returned from meeting with the Maverick Club officers, and he’s making sure he has his notes ready for a conference call later that afternoon.
In his spare 20 minutes, he pops into a coach’s office, waves to others up and down the hallways, logs into his computer, checking email and appointments.
It’s been a busy first week.
He doesn’t yet have a place to live. His wife, Kathy, is still in Denver, preparing to move to Grand Junction. Their home there, which they built in 2004, is under contract, only a few weeks after he accepted the position at CMU. For now, home is a room at the Holiday Inn Express.
“I go there at night and stay a short time and get up and come back to work,” Spicer said. “It’s all good. My focus is on this job right now. This is important. We’re going to make it work and have fun with it.”
Spicer wasn’t supposed to be on the job until June 1, but that moved up when he and Colorado School of Mines decided to part ways after he took the CMU job. His first day at Mesa was April 3, and although he doesn’t have every name in the building down just yet, he’s close.
He’s meeting with every coach on his staff, discussing not only their desires for their programs but any ideas they have to improve the department. He’s had meetings all over campus, getting to know the intricacies of how Colorado Mesa operates.
“I’ve been getting a lot of great information about the institution, about the community,” he said. “Eventually, once I get through that process, I’ll be getting into the community.
“I’m in a situation where I’m going to learn a lot. That’s going to take a little time.”
He reiterates that the athletic department doesn’t need an overhaul, but a good tuneup.
“This program is not broke,” he said. “It’s not broke. There’s a lot of strong people here who know what’s going on, who have had a lot of success and they’ve got a lot of good, young people, four new coaches this year and they all hit the ground running.
“My job right now is to get to know people, get to understand what the issues are and to vet those issues to the point where, OK, these are immediate attention, we need to get this done; we need attention here; this can be pushed a little bit.”
Colorado Mesa has 33 athletic programs, 23 sanctioned by the NCAA and 10 club or emerging sports.
“All 33 are important,” Spicer said. “We’ve got to figure out how to make all 33 programs coexist and the people involved in them to have success.”
The goal is to have every sport fully funded, not only in scholarships, but for travel, recruiting, equipment, staffing, etc.
“They need to be fully funded,” Spicer said. “Whether we ever get there or not is not the point. The point is we need to be given the opportunity to do that if we can.
“There’s a big difference in feeling that you’ve got an opportunity to grow and the knowledge that you don’t have an opportunity to grow; they’re worlds apart.”
That opportunity was one reason he was attracted to the job at Mesa.
Spicer believes all 23 NCAA sports and the 10 club/emerging sports can be dominant within the conference and compete for regional and national championships.
His plan will come to fruition as he continues to get to know his coaches and the community.
“I’ve been in the office six days, and they’ve been very, very productive days,” Spicer said Wednesday. “I’ve met a lot of great people with a lot of great ideas.
“If that’s going to take me another month, so be it. It’s very important to me to learn everything there is to learn about this program so whatever we identify as a priority gets attention.
“I’ve got to go downtown and spend time with those people. There are a lot of business people who are interested in this program and I’ve got to listen to them. I’ve got to hear what they’ve got to say. We can’t survive without them.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, but that’s great. It’s all positive.”
And another quick glance out the window, responding to a suggestion that his office could use a little decoration, although there’s not a lot of wall space.
Windows take up the west and north walls, and a large planning board on the south wall, facing his desk, was quickly put to use.
“I don’t need a lot,” Spicer says, looking west toward Bus Bergman Field and Colorado National Monument. “That’s a pretty good mural over there.”