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Hi, everybody. My name is Karl Darden, and I'd like to welcome and thank all of you for joining us today here on Navy sports Central. I'm your host, and this is the official podcast of the Navy Sports Nation, where we take a deeper dive into Navy sports. In this episode, we'll be joined by a very special guest who has over three decades of experience working in college athletics. She's going to provide us with some insight on a couple of her key roles as well as give us her perspective on recruiting and the college transfer portal. And of course, we'll have our sports update, Question of the Day and Mid Watch segments as well. So stick around, we'll get going as soon as we come back.
Okay, here we go with our 8th show of the calendar year and our 30th overall. For any new listeners out there, I really appreciate you checking us out. And if you've heard us before, welcome back. Either way, thanks for making us part of your day.
Okay, we're gonna kick off our sports update by letting you know how the gymnastics teams finished up. Coach Kip Simons had 9 athletes make it through the NCAA qualifying meet to the finals. And from there, the goal was to finish in the top 8 in their respective event to earn All-America status. Josh Williams on the rings and Giovanni Gambatese, who competed in the high bar, just barely got edged out. Williams was less than a 10th of a point out of the number eight spot while Gambatese was within a quarter point of finishing in a tie for seventh.
Overall, the Mids had a pretty good year. Coach Simons and his staff did a great job getting the team ready for each competition, and it really paid off. They won for dual meets, including the star meet over Army, and they also won this year's All Academy championship. I'll go ahead and include a link to the article recapping the NCAAs so you can see how the rest of the athletes on the gymnastics team did.
Next let's go and take a look at the baseball team. They've had a bit of an up and down year after losing pitcher Charlie Connolly to graduation. The Mids had been hanging around the 500 mark all season long and they are currently 17-19. And their record in the Patriot League is 8-10 which is good enough for fourth place. The Mids leading hitter is Christian Policelli. He is batting .346 with a couple of home runs. He's also second on the team and RBIs with 26 and first and stolen bases with 10. Pitching-wise, Nolan Jorgensen is third on the team with over 34 innings pitched. He also has a 3-1 record and an impressive 1.83 Earned Run Average.
The Mids head the West Point looking to pick up their second straight star and they're definitely hitting the ball more consistently now. Earlier in the season, Army not only swept a doubleheader but they totally shut down Midss bats winning both games 7-0 and 9-0. Now, I don't see that happening again. But it's going to take an all out effort for the Mids to win two out of three on the road.
And finally we're gonna finish up with women's tennis. They go into the Patriot League championship this weekend as the number two seed behind Boston University, the Mids are currently 21-5. Their only loss in league play actually was to the Terriers this past weekend. In that match, the Mids won the doubles point, but they could only manage one point in the singles unfortunately. But the #3 and #5 singles matches were pretty close though. So if they happen to run into the Terriers, again, which would only be in the finals. You know, that could go in a different direction. The Mids do face Lehigh on Friday in the quarterfinals. They handled them easily about four weeks ago. So we'll see how things go. But I do like their chances getting through to the next round.
Okay, that's it for the sports update. And I know that was kind of a quick one. But I'm really looking forward to getting into this Deep Dive segment. So please don't go anywhere. We are just getting started and you do not want to miss this.
All right now it's time for our Deep Dive segment. And if you've ever been curious as to how things work in the athletics department at a division one school, you are exactly in the right place. Our guest today has over 30 years experience in college athletics. In fact, she has what I consider to be the unique experience of getting a Division 1 college football program up and running from scratch. And she is here with us to share her perspective on the current state of college athletics, specifically as it relates to recruiting and the college transfer portal.
So with that, I'm very happy to welcome Mary McElroy from the class of '87 to the Navy Sports Central podcast. Mary, thank you so much for being with us here today. I really appreciate you taking the time to join us.
Glad to be here, Karl.
Hey, listen, before we get going. I'm going to ask you the same question. I ask all my guests who went to the Academy, and that is how did you first hear about it and what motivated you to apply for an appointment?
Honestly, I saw some people with their picture in the newspaper . . . my local newspaper because they had appointments to the academies. And so. I read the article and I realized that I was fairly close to the top of my class. And I played three sports in high school. So I said, "Hey", you know, and my parents didn't have money to send me to college. So I decided to look into it. And I applied and unfortunately for me, four other guys in my high school graduating class had beat me to the appointments.
And so, so I ended up going to NAPS for a year before I came to the Academy. And actually, there are six of us from our 1982 class at Great Mills High School who have graduated from the Naval Academy. And a seventh went to the Coast Guard Academy. So yeah, so we are . . . that, that class was pretty, pretty incredible.
Yeah, I mean, shoot, it's unusual even to have two from the same class go to the same service academy. So have that many is pretty incredible.
And pretty diverse, too. We had me as a black female, we had two black males and three white males. We had marine . . . sons of marine veterans, sons have enlisted and then it's a son of a Navy officer, career officer, so it was great.
Okay, all right. Cool. Now, you mentioned you played three sports there. Obviously basketball is one of them. Because that's how we that's how I got to know that. You know, your background everything. What else did you play?
I played basketball, softball and volleyball. And actually softball is my my first sport and my one that I've I'm most good at. And I've played since second grade.
Right, right. Okay. So, when you went to Navy, was your intent to play one or all of those sports? Or did you just kind of say, "Okay, well, I'll just kind of feel things out. And if I feel comfortable, I'll go out for one of the sports or more more than one."
Yes, it was . . . I would. I was going I got in on academics. I did not . . . I was not recruited at all for any other sports. And when I got there, yeah, I was used to playing volleyball in the fall. So during Plebe Summer, I went and played volleyball and somehow the coach found out that I wanted to play basketball, and so . . . so he got word to me that if I wanted to play basketball, I probably should be over playing basketball, during Plebe Summer so.
So I gave up volleyball to go ahead and get in shape for basketball and ended up making the team made the team three times and then played softball for three years. I did not play my plebe year because I tore some cartilage in my knee during plebe year. And so I didn't get to play softball as a plebe. But I played softball for three years and was the team captain during firstie year. So yeah, it's awesome. I loved it, but never played volleyball ever at the Academy. Not even recreationally.
Wow. So basketball wise, and again, I remember your name first popped up to me. And by the way, for the folks that are listening, Mary and I were actually in the same company at the Academy. I was I was a senior when when she came in for plebe year, but and I knew that she was an athlete, but I wasn't sure exactly which sports. And then when, when I was talking with Becky Lewis, back in December, she's the one who brought up Mary's name again. And I said, "Wait a minute, I remember. I remember." so. So let's talk a little bit about your your basketball time, what was just like your your most memorable experience about playing on that team?
Oh, my gosh, playing with people like Becky and Lori Reynolds, who we had no idea at the time, she would go on to be a three star general in the Marines, which is pretty awesome. And then just getting to play for Coach Smalley. He was an incredible man that taught us so many things about life, about the game of basketball, he taught us the game of basketball, rather than just coaching us through each game. And so it allowed us to be able to respond to whatever circumstances we encountered. And, and then it has, to this day, colored the way that I watch the game.
Right, right. And we can talk about that more in a second. And because, you know, I don't know if you heard that conversation I had with Becky, but I love watching basketball and just kind of breaking it down.
And you know, I do just . . . I'm kind of like semi-retired now. But I do some substitute teaching at a local junior high school where my kids went. And I go to watch those games just because I like being around that environment and just watching these kids develop.
But you bring up a good point with Coach Smalley and that is he taught you the game of basketball right? And you saw . . . you see a lot of coaches once they get to that collegiate level. They are basically like you were saying, just basically coaching games. And then player development may wind up taking a backseat. Can you can you speak to that when it comes to player development as it relates to you know, college basketball versus, you know, the high school level and so forth. It doesn't stop once you get into college, does it?
Oh, absolutely not. I mean, the game is slightly different in college than high school. In fact, when we played in college, we were playing halves, the now the women play quarters again now. And I like that much better. But, I mean, it's just the speed of the game, as you would expect is a little bit more as well.
But yeah, I mean, it's just the . . . the strategies that coaches employ. Get a little bit more complicated. But yeah, if your coach teaches you to game; again, you can respond to the various situations you, you can determine what kind of offense they're playing, and you can slide around on the defense a little bit better to be able to compensate for the gaps that might be developing in your defense. if you're playing a zone or something like that, you might want to move to man to man.
But then you also need to know time and situation. I mean, a lot of times, like this year, the NC State game against UConn where they were playing for the last final four spot. I mean, I was so well, not the last one, but one of the final four spots, and I was excited for NC State. They had 28 seconds left on the clock and regulation. I was like, "Okay, good. We're gonna win. Yeah, we got this." Yes, they had the ball, they had 28 seconds, plenty of time. That game was tied, they just needed to get one point.
So in any case, you know, and then they started doing the hold the ball drill, and I got nervous as the clock ticked down below 20. Then below, you know, 15. And I'm like, Alright, move toward the basket, you gotta get closer to the basket. And I . . . it just astounded me that they weren't able to get a shot off and ended up going to overtime And Louisville. I mean, excuse me, UConn had the momentum. And so Paige Bueckers. I don't know how she did it, but single handedly got them the victory. So. So anyway, I digress. That's how I watched the game anymore. It's pretty awesome. But it was a great game. That was by far one of the best games I've seen in a long time. We just came out on the losing end.
Right. Okay, so going back to your time at the Academy, basically, you played the softball all those three years? Well, the last three years, I think, and then basketball as well. Now, it's senior year, and you're coming up on service selection. How did you come to that decision and talk a little bit about how your career went, as far as you know, being on active duty.
Sure, sure. Well, growing up in a disciplined household, I was fine going Navy or Marine Corps, I was thinking I was going Navy, and I have to go into NAPS and then being in the Navy for five years. But fortunately for me, I met my future husband while I was at the Academy. And he was in the class of '86. And he selected Marine Corps so he could fly. Because there were no more, no more pilot billets left in the Navy offerings. And so he selected Marine Corps. So that mean that that meant I selected Marine Corps so I can live with him. So I joke around that I, I select the Marine Corps, so I can live with my husband, but but it would make it easier for me to be able to follow him around to, you know, have a dual career. Right. So that's why I chose Marine Corps and they got some great uniforms too. So
I will not deny them that. And I'll also say that Marines in general do the best job of marketing themselves as a service. I mean, I've seen the most inspirational billboards just driving up and down the highway sometimes, you know, so. So, you know, props to the Marine Corps for being able to do that.
And the other thing of Gunny Gunnery Sergeant Nevgloski, our drill instructor up at NAPS, had planted a seed in my head when I was on Napster, that the Marine Corps was a good service for women because they respected the rank. So and I found that to be true. I had a good experience in the Marines.
Understood. Okay, cool. So what were some of the jobs that you did when you're in the Marine Corps?
I selected Supply Corps. Again, that would be my husband was a pilot. So that would make it easier for me to be stationed at any naval or any base base. And then you had to pick a secondary MOS. And I picked goodness, public . . . or administration basically, again, so so that whichever one I ended up with, it would be flexible. They ended up being stationed at Cherry Point was my first duty station, and then I got an assignment back to supply school as an instructor. Okay, and I ended up getting off active duty after five years. So, so I had a pretty short stint.
Okay, so that would have finished you up in '92. Is that right? Correct. Okay, all right. Yeah, actually got off active duty the following year because I took an extra couple of years to be an instructor down at the Pensacola for helicopters. Yeah. Okay, so now you're off active duty and you wind up back At the Academy, so can you talk a little bit about that story?
Yeah, that was kind of wild. Um, my husband ended up getting stationed at the Academy, I had actually been interviewing for private sector jobs and was headed for job with Bristol Myers Squibb. And they were gonna pay for my MBA and they were gonna send me to Evansville, Indiana. Well, we had a two year old son at the time, Darren our oldest, and, and then Terry got orders to the Naval Academy. And I was like, okay, am I going to take the baby and go to Evansville by myself? Or should we just go with you to the Academy, and so we decided that I would just go, I would just go with him to the Academy. I figured I'd find something in Baltimore, DC and be able to commute from Annapolis.
But fortunately, we had stayed in touch with Coach Smalley. And every time I was in town, I would stop by to say hello. And, and I would reach out to him. And so on this particular trip, I went by his office and, and told him that we were headed back to the Academy. And, and he told me about this, this position that was coming open in the athletics department and encouraged me to apply. So I did and and ended up getting a job right there at Navy, in athletics working for him and being his assistant compliance coordinator. And this was when the the NCAA manual went . . . it doubled in thickness, and so lots of rules to enforce. And so I just dove in and learned it and decided to, to embark upon that career. So it was pretty interesting.
All right, all right. So, so compliance, and, and we were talking earlier how, when I was working with Johnson and Johnson, I worked in a sales training department after doing a few years in sales. And I had to train basically an entire hospital sales force of about 100 reps across the country and their managers.
So as you can imagine, with health care, you know, compliance is a really big deal, because you're dealing with people's lives, literally, and you don't want to be getting caught with any kind of false advertising or anything like that. So our strategy with compliance when we were developing training materials and sales materials was to just bring in compliance from the very beginning and actually have them as partners as we're developing this stuff. So they can kind of say," Okay, that's good. This one you need to reword", you know, that sort of thing. And that way, we weren't doing the work twice, essentially. Can you talk a little bit about how your relationship was with the coaches and so forth? And how you built that up?
Sure. Yeah, that was really interesting how you attacked it with your healthcare background, because I attacked it very similarly, at Navy. I was I was single handedly, although I was the assistant compliance coordinator. I think in a year, he promoted me to compliance coordinator. So basically, I was responsible single handedly, for at the time, I think it was 29 varsity sports that Navy had. So I figured that I had to get creative and come up with something I didn't even have an assistant.
And so I developed this thing called the daily compliance item. Whereby I would make up a humorous scenario, and pose a question about NCAA compliance, and then give the answer the next day. So I would say, Jenny Jumpshot is coming to Navy for an official visit? Can she bring her parents and her little brother? And and how much of their expenses can or whose which of the family members expenses can Navy pick up? And so and that would be the question, and then the next day? I'd give the answer. And then I'd given another question. And so there's a recruiting test that coaches have to take every year to be able to recruit off campus. And so this daily compliance items served the dual purpose of educating them on the rules, and forcing them to open the book to find out what rule allowed them to do whatever I was asking that they could do, and then it would get them ready for this test at the end of the year. So you, they usually would take that in the summer.
And so so it was a humorous way to educate them about the rules. And then it was an innocuous way to educate them about the rules. The other thing that I did was I would go around to their offices and just visit with them from time to time, similarly to what you did, and talking about, "Okay, why don't you tell me what you you're thinking you want to do? And then we can figure out together a legal way that you can do that, rather than you going off in a direction that you think is appropriate, and then having me play the police after the fact." I always joke that at one point in my life, I wanted to be a lawyer. Another part I wanted to be a teacher. And this job and compliance allowed me to kind of be a lawyer and a teacher, and and very rarely a police officer too.
That's pretty good. And by the way, going back to that question you posed? I mean, the answer to me, kind of . . . might be obvious, but I'm not 100% certain. So what's the answer their question?
Oh, sorry. So Navy could pick up the the expenses of the parents, okay, but not the not the sibling got so and, and yes, because it's an official visit, that's the reason that they could pick them up, it was an unofficial visit. And right now they're allowed five official visits total in their time of recruitment. And they're only allowed to take them their senior year in high school, but the sibling, the parents have to pick up the cost of the siblings
Got it. Now, what constitutes an official visit versus an unofficial visit?
That's one where the institution that is recruiting, you can pay for you to come visit them and check them out, An unofficial visit, you can make an unofficial visit, that's when you decide to come to the campus on your own all of your you pick up all your expenses. And, and you can do any number of those, okay, the official visits are limited to five and unofficial, you can do it. Basically, if you think about it, if I'm recruiting the institution, I can go as many times as I want, I can spend as much money as I want to check out that institution. But if that institution wants me, they can only spend x amount of dollars on me and I can only come once to their campus, at their expense.
All right, very good. So now . . . How long were you at the Academy in that role?
I ended up being there three years in that role. And then I went over to the Alumni Association for one year as Director of Alumni Services.
All right. All right. Good enough. So from there, your path in college athletics has been kind of established at that point. Can you just kind of share a little bit about each of your stops along the way, and what you took away from them . . . if there's one really good takeaway you had from any one or all of them? And if you could share those as well.
Well, interestingly enough, I've tried to get out of college athletics a couple of times, but it's, it's I don't know, it's like quicksand. I can't get out. But um, I've gotten out but I've ended up coming back into it because I just enjoy it so much. But but after . . . after I left Navy and left Annapolis, I actually moved to Atlanta, and worked a little bit and then I went back to went to Georgia Tech to get my masters and I had resisted getting an MBA, but then I ended up getting one because I figured it was the most flexible.
But while I was getting my MBA, I was going full time. And I finished my first year I was coming to the end of my first year of two year program. And we were assigned or I was invited to join a team that was helping the athletic department frame their strategic plan. And so I joined the team and we went over to introduce ourselves to the athletic director. And right there in front of everybody. He started recruiting me. He was like, "Mary", you know, because we had to explain what what what we had done and what what made us a valuable member of this team. And I said I worked in compliance at the Naval Academy. He goes really, who do you work for? And I said Jack Lengyl and he goes Jack Lengyl. Wow. And how many programs were there?" I said "29". He goes you and I said I was single handed single handedly ran their compliance department. He said, You did compliance single handedly for Jack Lengyl for 29 sports, you must be really good. And then he goes, "I want you to come work for me." and I'm like, "I didn't come to Georgia Tech to get my MBA to go back into college athletics."
And he goes uh . . . well, you come work for me you and I'll pay for the second year of your MBA and then he goes the you know the college athletics door doesn't swing open very often you come work for me you can always go to corporate America later I pay for the second year of your your degree and then you can go to corporate America whenever you feel ready later on.
So I I did not right there. I didn't agree to it right then and there. I agreed to come meet him come talk to him about it. And and I ended up going to work for him and stayed there six years and did very well and ended up from there getting there. So well. Something I took from Georgia Tech was I was in charge of men's basketball. I was a sport administrator for men's basketball. When they made their championship run in 2004. I don't say Final Four run. I always say they played for the championship. They didn't just get to the Final Four, they got to the championship game. So in we ended up losing by nine points to UConn, but, but that was fun.
And then I moved over to Georgia State where I became the athletic director at Georgia State where I was the second black female in history to be an athletic director at a division one program that was not an HBCU So did some great things over there. The most known Trouble was that I started a football team from scratch, and was able to hire Bill Curry as the first football coach.
How about that?
Yeah. So it was really pretty exciting stuff. So did a lot of hard work in three and a half years and, and put them on the map, athletically and improve the basketball program as well. But then,left . . . ended up leaving there, they decided they wanted to go into a different direction. I always joke that, you know, I finished the list that they had for me, and I should have taken 10 years to finish it instead of three and a half years. And then I'd still be there.
Yeah, serves you right for being so efficient, huh?.
Exactly. You know, it's like, he brought me there to do some tests. And I was like, I served that right to work and check, check, check, check. Oh, got that done. And was, you know, so anyway, ended up moving on from there. And I made a couple of other stops, and then ended up at Temple University in 2015. So skip ahead a few years.
And so I was there, because they had a fairly inexperienced guy in the role Pat Craft had been the deputy athletic director before that, and, and he had about five more years of experience, but they recruited me up there to come help him run the athletic department, while he got up to speed as an athletic director, and did ended up working great with him, loved it.
Didn't really like the cold of Philadelphia, but loved the uh . . . opportunity there. And so that was my first football game. Ever, as a Temple staff member, Temple beat Penn State. First time in 78 years, so and at in Philly. So it was pretty exciting stuff. But but we did some great things there.
And ended up getting this position that I'm in now the Senior Associate Commissioner for Women's Basketball at the ACC, every stop that I wear, I have served in athletics, I have worked with women's basketball. So it was really intriguing for me to even apply for this opportunity. But what's super excited to get it and I'm really enjoying it.
All right, good. So let's speak to that a little bit. What's your daily routine like? And I'm thinking about, you must have just been swamped in February and March with the tournament and everything, but I'm just kind of curious to find out, you know, how does that work load compare to the beginning of the year? Is it pretty constant the whole time? You know, that sort of thing?
Um, no, there are ebbs and flows. U m . . . the beginning of the year? Well, yeah, it's kind of all spread out. But um, so the main . . . let me break it down into the main tasks that I focus on. So one of the main tasks is developing the schedule each year.
So we have 18, well we have 15 teams in the ACC, and they play an 18 game regionalized schedule. So we have a north region of central and southern region. And so there are five teams in each region. So each team plays the other four teams in their region twice, they play them home and away. And they play everybody in the other two regions once.t. So that's where we account for 18 teams . . . or 18 games. And so putting together that schedule on an annual basis, and making sure it's fair and balanced, is one major tests that we do and we try to anticipate which teams are going to be the best teams.
And then we watch out for . . . me and my number two are the ones that work on the schedule. And so we watch out for these runs, where they match up against those other teams and we try to spread out those runs. So they're not . . . what we call them as gauntlets that they're not facing multiple gauntlets or or just horrible gauntlets, where they got Louisville, NC State, and Georgia Tech all back to back and on the road. So we balanced the number of road games. We look at the gauntlets. We also look at their Thursday night games, because the ACC is very focused on academic achievement. And so we look to for where they where they're traveling to on Thursday and make sure they can get back for class on Friday, et cetera. And then we also look at finishing up the season that they finish up on a Sunday, so that they can do senior day. And then if they don't get a Sunday, for the very last game of the season, we look to make sure that they get a Sunday game the previous week at home. So, things like that. And also we manage the ACC women's basketball tournament at the end of the season every year. So that's our championship.
Again, all 15 teams qualify for the championship. That's a five day . . . I think it's 14 game tournament. So it's it's it's a brutal schedule. So we go three games, four games, four games, two games, one game. But it's fun. It's so exciting. And this year was amazing. It was so competitive. And then the other thing is during the season, we just we manage the execution of the schedule and making sure that we're monitoring the TV exposures. I also am the liaison for ESPN, the ACC network, and our RayCom television partners to make sure that we get games on TV. We get, you know, a balanced number of games, and that we look out for the exposures, the national and regional exposures for our respective teams.
And then I travel to various games to just show the flag and show support for the teams. And then postseason, we follow our teams through the NCAA, as well. So it's a lot of fun, a lot of work, but a lot of fun. So, but I don't mind it.
Yeah. Okay. I can imagine that sounds like it sounds like a good Well, wait, that's they're actually paying you to do all that stuff. That's pretty cool.
Yeah! Well, I actually pinch myself sometimes too.
Right. Now, real quick, before we move on to the . . . the whole scheduling piece is really interesting. Uh . . Do you have any kind of software, anything that kind of helps you out there? Or is it just kind of like, you guys, it's like this big, you know, like the big whiteboard or whatever. And you just start moving pieces around and stuff like that, to see what fits?
Well, thankfully, at Georgia Tech, I had a, I had a class called operations research. No, just kidding. It does help. Having had that operations research class at Georgia Tech, and my masters.
In fact, my . . . one of my last classes that I took was an operations resource class on steroids. Where it was called deterministic optimization. Uh, 30, 30 sylables . . . no 30 letters in that. But anyway, I digress. But we actually have a consultant that we work with, and that we give him parameters as to what we're looking for. And he he plugs it into his optimization program. And he spits out feasible schedules for us. And then we evaluate them for what we're looking for in terms of spreading out those gauntlets. Getting the Thursday nights spread out in the Sundays especially. So yeah. So you so you anticipated correctly.
It's a tough thing to do. And we go through it depends on what year it is, and how, how good our teams are, how many versions of the schedule, we have to go through my first year, we got to like version 12, before we found a workable, acceptable . . . feasible and acceptable solution. Second year, I think we did it in five. Last year, it took eight. So it'd be interesting to see how many we got this year, we had six top 20 ranked teams to begin the season with last year. So that's why I took going through it a few more times because we had to spread out those gauntlets.
Right. Understood. Okay, so now the NCAA Tournaments are over again, we're about two weeks removed from that. And we're starting to see some of the movement that comes with the end of the season as it relates to the transfer portal. Right? So I was wondering if you can kind of briefly explain it. There's a lot of folks who hear that that term. And even I had to kind of educate myself on it about a year, year and a half ago, just to kind of get a better understanding. And I I'm not claiming to be an expert on it by any stretch of the imagination. So, I was wondering if you could kind of briefly explain what the purpose of that portal is and how different things are now than there were before as it relates to college athletics.
Yes. So it used to be that if you divisional I'm going to speak division one only. If you transferred from one college to another. Transfer into a division one college, let's say just go from that aspect. You transfer into a division one program says, Navy, you come to the Naval Academy, you have to sit a year before you can compete for Navy. Didn't matter where you came from. It's about where you came into. And so you had to sit a year of residence.
And then before you left your previous institution, you needed to have permission from your, your institution, usually the athletic director, and and by extension, your coach. But the athletic director would write a letter or compliance person would write a letter on behalf of the athletic director to the other athletic director, giving that institution permission to speak to this student athlete. And so sometimes schools wouldn't give permission to speak to a particular school. Sometimes I would write a letter say when I was at Georgia Tech, I would say you could speak to any institution but Georgia, which was the arch rival, and so student athletes would sometimes, you know, balk against that.
And then if you didn't have permission to speak to that school you could not get, you could not get financial aid from them. So, so that permission, it mattered. And so now with the portal, you don't have to have permission. You can just go and put your name into this portal. And then the transfer rules, it didn't happen concurrently. But, but in time, one before the portal became into effect, where the NCAA changed the rules to remove the residence requirements. Now, conferences used to also have conference rules, like the ACC, had a conference transfer rule that if you transferred intra conference within the ACC, you couldn't play for two years, and you couldn't get financial aid the first year. So all that went away, the conferences ended up rescinding their respect- . . . their respective rules, and then the NCAA overall, removed the residence requirement for the transfer. So it's, the student athletes now have the freedom to leave when they want and go where they want without being hindered, by their current institution.
Right, right. Now, right, before we jumped on together, we're kind of you know, talking a little bit about the whole environment as it relates to the college transfer portal. And you referred to it as basically just being a little bit of a wild wild west atmosphere, which is fairly accurate, based on what I've seen. And I don't know that there's really a good answer to this question, but uh, because I wanted to ask you, if there was one change you could make to kind of make the process go more smoothly, what would it be? But my feeling is, as I'm asking this question, it's probably more than one thing that might need to be done. But maybe, maybe speak to like one or two that you think, okay, if we can somehow figure out a way to agree on this, then this process will be even better?
Yeah, I mean, we have been trying from the beginning to have a national standard. Because the thing that's the most challenging is that the standard varies from state to state. Some do not have. Well, I'm talking NIL, the transfer portal is a standard. But we what we would like to see is we would like to see a cutoff date. Where, because where the student athletes have to declare that they want to transfer by a certain date. They again, don't have to have permission upfront, but they got to have a cut off date.
The challenge being that with no cut off date, they can wait until the coach has finished recruiting for the year, and then decide that "Oh, well, you know, I want to go." And the unfortunate thing for the coaches, it's already unfortunate that they don't know from year to year who's going to be on their team the next year. But now, they might find out at the last minute after they've already issued all their offers . . . scholarship offers for the upcoming year that you know that I've decided I'm not coming back. And or the other way around, I said I'm not coming back. And then I changed my mind and stay.
And so by establishing a cut off, I think that would help both sides to know, where things would stand. Some student athletes are finding out that the portal is not as forgiving as they thought. You know, the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence and that portal, going into that portal doesn't mean you're going to come out at another institution that you're going to be happy with.
That's exactly right.
If you come out with another institution at all, because some of some coaches look, they might consider the circumstances under which you entered the portal and feel that it's not worth taking a chance on you. So you know, so it's been interesting.
So yeah, I can imagine and to your point, I mean, Navy . . . well, speaking specifically to football Navy's had a handful of guys go that transfer portal route over the last three, three or four years. And the only one that I know of that has really benefited from it has been Jacob Springer. He went to Mississippi State and ended up really having an impact there. Especially I'd looked at his stats this past year was his senior year and he did really, really well. But the rest of them have just kind of disappeared. I don't know where they are. I know. I know that Jamale Carothers, I think ended up at Western Kentucky. But I think he had . . . might've had like one carry for like nine yards the entire year. So yeah, I see exactly what you're saying there.
I mean, there's a reason they come to the Naval Academy. I mean, there's, you know, it's it's a fit for them. And so I mean, I'm encouraged by the fact that, you know, student athletes who choose to go to the Naval Academy, they're going for a different purpose. They're not sports is not their primary focus. They first of all, they know they have a military obligation on the backside and they embrace that.
And then, you know, they many of them, you know, they're we're have good athletes, but they're not necessarily the blue chip Division One athletes. And so, but they, you know, they have that heart. And so we are very competitive, our teams are outstanding, and they're very, very competitive. And we do have a lot of blue chips, but some aren't. And some just become really good student athletes while they're at the Naval Academy. So I mean, I just encourage kids to just to think long and hard before they would think about going elsewhere and think about all the benefits that they get that leadership training and those things. I mean, certainly we all get them from from participating in college athletics, but that Navy experience is second to none.
Yeah, yeah, well said, Now, just kind of wrapping up our discussion around the portal and recruiting and so forth. As you probably know, Navy actually hired a new director of recruiting this past year, just actually, just a few months ago. I would say, within a month after the football season ended. And his name is Danny Payne, actually just spent some time up at Army as well. And I think he came from Georgia Southern. So when Coach Numatalolo was commenting on the hire, he said, he mentioned this, he said, "Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program, the name of the game today, and college football, recruiting is social media innovation, creativity, and communication and standalone branding."
And I'm wondering, in your capacity, you know, working on the women's basketball side, and with your experience having been in athletic director's offices before, if you could kind of elaborate on that a little bit. Especially when you see the impact of social media on college sports these days. What, what's a good example of, of using social media the right way, and maybe talk about some areas that you may want to stay away from here?
Well, I would say, I mean, it's, it's the way that the the this generation communicates. I mean, that mean, they don't, I don't think that they communicate any way more substained substantially, then social media, I mean, my sons are 29 and 32. Now, but they still are, you know, if I want to communicate with them, I'm I'm usually texting them or I'm sending a some kind of Twitter notification, I don't do Snapchat, but I mean, they're, they're up on all of it, tick tock Snapchat, they keep up but but you need to have a presence in in all of those areas, Facebook, even you need to have a Facebook presence to because you also in the recruiting process, you end up recruiting the parents too. And most people in my generation, we're more on Facebook than we are the Twitter, Snapchat and Tiktok. But, but there's some out there that that get on those as well.
But but you gotta have . . . you got to be slick, um . . .not slick, but it needs to be, you know, glossy. It needs to be it needs to catch the eye for them, because if you know, if it's, if it's amateurish, you know, they, they pick up on that, and, you know, so you need to make sure that you, you make a concerted effort to be effective in what the messaging is that you're putting out and the delivery of those messages.
And then you need to do it fairly frequently. I mean, you got to do it a couple times a week, I mean, because they're looking for fresh content, they don't want to just, you know, you just put something out there once a month, they get it, it gets stale in their mind and, and it conveys that you might not be as interested in them as, as they would want you to be interested in them. So, that you have to do.
What you shouldn't do is you got . . . you got to watch out what kind of enticements or offers you put out there because you still can't entice students to come to your school or student athletes to come to your school by making offers of, of goods or services. So, so you just got to watch out for that. And then one other thing that you might want to do that's effective is highlighting things that that they have done that you're proud of and then highlighting things that Midshipman are accomplishing, that they might be able to relate to and show ways that we are going to be able to showcase them once they become Midshipman and participate in navy athletics.
Okay, good stuff. All right. So that's what this is going to take us to the end of this segment. We're going to come back shortly. And when we do, we're just going to ask Mary a few more questions to kind of get to know her a little bit better. So stay with us.
All right, welcome back to Navy Sports Central Karl Darden here with you. And we are with Mary McElroy, and I knew her as Mary Miles when she was in my company at the Naval Academy, but she is now the Senior Associate Commissioner for women's basketball for the Atlantic Coast Conference. And, Mary, it's been great having you share your perspective on college athletics up to this point. Right now, before we continue, I just wanted to give you a chance to talk a little bit about things that are going on in your life there in Greensboro. And, you know, if you have any kind of causes or charities that are important to you, feel free to talk on those. So fire away.
No problem. So, yeah, I've been in Greensboro. Now this is my third year and have had three very distinctive years. Thanks to COVID. But, but really enjoy living here and have engaged in the community. I'm on a couple of boards among the the Truist community advisory board where I work with one of the guys on the board is the head of a YMCA. In fact, I've gotten to be pretty good friends with the President, CEO of the of the Y here in Greensboro, so I tried to get involved with them.
And they have a back to school program where various people can help basically stock a backpack for that force particular student or multiple students. So I try to do that. I try to get over to the Greensboro urban mission to a couple of times a month to just pack boxes for families and and then even the ACC office, we engage in community service as a staff at least once a quarter. So we've engaged in helping to spruce up the outdoor facilities at one organization. We . . . we actually moved . . . this one woman had a . . . Gosh, it's like a pantry for underprivileged families and they move we had we literally moved her from one location to the next. Okay, so but you know, just try to stay involved in the communities. I get involved wherever I find myself planted.
Yeah, yeah, I think that's, that's a big thing. Because I know that when I was working with J&J, I was traveling so much that even after I, you know, I was a sales manager for a while. And then when I decided to step away fromJ&J and kind of start working on my own, I realized, wow, I'd been living here for like 11 years. And I hadn't really had a chance to get ties into the community because I was gone all the time. You know, I was on a plane, basically, four days a week. So that was a real challenge for me as well. So I commend you for just wanting to being able to do that. As soon as you get to wherever you you know, you've moved to geographically so good stuff.
Someday I'll find a softball team.
Alright, so now we're just going to kind of I'm just going to start tossing some questions out Yeah, and these are just more in some ways lighthearted just to kind of get people to know you a little bit better. So let's start off with again, your current position. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job right now?
I think we hit on . . . We hit on it earlier. That is getting to go to all these games! It is so much fun and getting paid to do it. And then I just call . . . Well, usually I give them advance notice that I'm coming, and I don't I don't get in their business. I will check in with the coach pregame. In fact, I'll go . . . I'll wait till they come on the court, and I'll just go stand by them at their bench and just say hello, and then I go disappear. And so but the school . . . I usually give the school that I'm visiting a heads up, and they'll either assign me a seat at the courtside at the table or they'll let me sit wherever I want to sit. So . . . but they treat me like a VIP I get to go in and get the media meal and the whole deal with special parking. I have a credential, ACC credential that gets me into all of our schools. But it's pretty nice and just to be able to walk around the place like I own it. I don't though, you know, I really I'm pretty low key. But getting to go to the games by far the most rewarding aspect of my job.
All right. Okay, now let's talk a little bit about the women's game and the men's game. Okay, I watched both have a fair amount. Certainly in a tournament, I'm watching them all the time. Name one thing about the women's college game that you like better than the men's game right now.
The fact that we're on quarters, I think it breaks up the game better. And then we have to . . . not only are we on quarters, but we also . . . the way we do our fouls. If you want to get to five fouls, the other team gets to shoot two free throws every time no more one on one in the women's game.
And so you have to be strategic about how you use those fouls. And sometimes you want to go ahead and get to five, so that the team is forced . . . if they're not a good free throw shooter, then you're fouling them and putting them on the free throw line, and they're missing. But if they're good free throw shooters you want to be very careful to not get them to five, five fouls. So and then at the, the another rule is advancing the ball you can call timeout . . . toward the end of the game you can call time had to advance the ball into the forecourt. So those three aspects I liked much better about the women's game.
Right, right. Okay. All right. Cool. So Oh, and by the way, I was reading an article by Jay Bilas on espn.com A while ago and he he likes that foul situation as well. So you know, you're in pretty good company there.
Yeah. And advancing the ball too. I heard him say that.
He said that too. That's right. Okay, now let's flip it. All right, what part of the men's game do you like that you maybe would like to see incorporated on the women's side? If any.
And interestingly enough, you bringing up Jay Bilas, I remember him recently talking about the physicality of the men's game. Some people like that the refs let the games be physical. And a couple of our women's coaches want us to allow that.
I don't like that. So, so while, like I said, I do want to acknowledge that some people want the women's game to be allowed to be more physical. I'm of the mind like Jay Bilas, he actually was saying that he thinks that it's gone too far that they, they really are too physical. And so, so that's where where I am there.
Okay. Yeah, I agree. I think that they, I mean, like, there's a lot of contact that I was watching, especially during the tournament that probably you wouldn't have seen a little while back. So now specifically . . ., if you look at . . .
You could get somebody hurt.
Exactly. So now is there any particular part of the men's game that you do like . . . that you would like to see incorporate into women's side? And it could be anything as innocuous as the dimensions of the court or something like that.
Now, the dimensions of the court, ironically, are the same. It's the ball sizes that are different. The women have gone to a smaller ball. We went to that ball when I was playing. In fact, it was during our playing season or during the year because I think plebe year. I want to say plebe year. It must have been youngster year because plebe year, we played with the big ball and went to the smaller ball youngster year. And we had to get used to it. And I have big hands. My husband jokes that I have man hands. But I still found the smaller ball harder to play with, but so so so I would tell you. I mean, I sometimes I liked the halves in the men's game. I like that. That's a distinct difference between the men's and women's game, although I think it will change at some point. I'm . . . because they're the last . . . men's college basketball. Excuse me. It's the only one that doesn't play quarters.
Yeah, yeah, you're right, exactly. Now, I will throw in my my two cents now. And when it comes to the the men's game itself, and this is not necessarily something for the women's game I wanted to incorporate on the men's side, but just a men's change. And I think even Jay Bilas might have mentioned this as well, is to widen that key, and keep the same three seconds but widen the key.
Yeah, that's true.
I think that that would work out pretty well. And certainly the court dimensions in general are the same for both men and women. But help me out on a three point line. Is that . . .?
It just moved back. Yeah, no, they women would just this year was the first year that we shoot from the same line now.
Okay, I knew I knew was the same as International, which I guess is the same as collegiate. Okay, so that's cool. They both shoot from the same . . .
So it really distinguishes the true three point shooters now from you know, the ones that just got lucky and hit it when the women's when women's line was a lot closer in.
Right, right. Do you remember a long time ago where there's actually the top of the line was actually inside the key?
What's all that about? You know?
Yeah, exactly. Yeah . . .
. Okay. Okay, so, you may have alluded to it earlier, but best college game you've ever seen?
Ah, yes. By far this NC State - UConn women's basketball this year, and then men, Duke vs. Carolina in the semi final. Those games were outstanding. Yeah. You know, it was like, wow, you just, you know, that typical line that you hear people utter . . . You didn't want to see anybody come away as a loser, you know. But both of those were outstanding games. I was on the edge of my seat for both.
Yeah, I saw both of those. And I kind of when it comes to ACC I tend to follow Duke a little bit more only because my godchild is a graduate from Duke. Yeah, um, I had a Navy buddy, who's an 83 grad from Duke, and he had a daughter, she must be maybe 29 now, I guess. But, yeah, she went to Duke so I follow them pretty closely. And you're right. I mean, even though they wound up on the wrong end of that, that was a great game and just really, really fun to watch. So . . .
Yeah, both of them. Instant classics.
Yeah, exactly. All right, favorite player to watch whether they are in college or as a professional.
David Robinson . . . I always loved watching David play I mean, and to know that he didn't start playing basketball till his junior year in high school made it all the more phenomenal. And then watching him and Tim Duncan both play for the Spurs right was was wonderful. I mean I just I just love him as a person love him as a player but love him more as a person so very cool. And Dawn Staley on the women's side. She . . . she's phenomenal player too. I mean, I really enjoy watching her. Did enjoy watching her play, and and I'm just so happy for her as a coach.
Yeah, she's really making a name for herself as a coach for sure. That's twp for her, right? Two championships?
Yeah, that's the second one.
Okay, now we'll go member . . . most memorable game you played at Navy.
I really can't think of any one for me that stood out. Playing I mean, they were all special because of me. I got to play I was walk on I wasn't expecting to play and my my youngster year I was the sixth man. So I was the first sub off the bench. So I was like, so but but no, I just enjoy playing and just enjoy being on the team. The friendships that I made on the team, you know, it was just phenomenal. I just really loved it.
So and one that I remember though, being being on watch as I was the b . . .BMOD is that? Yes. Or B? Anyway, I was battalion officer of the day or something? No, it was BMOD that battalion Midshipman Officer of the Day. And I ended up walking over to Halsey in our men's team was playing William and Mary. And that was the game and I just got the tail end of the game. Luckily, I just happen to walk in the gym and got to see David hit the shot from half court that sent the team to the postseason. So that was phenomenal to be able to see that. But
Yeak, okay. Fun . . . And actually, I'm going to stretch this to any any sport, not necessarily basketball, okay, since you're a three sport person. So, funniest thing you've ever seen in any game you've played, even if you go back to high school,
Oh my gosh. Funniest ? I have done some more research on this one. I can't really think of anything funny besides an own goal, you know, because it's like, especially in high school. I mean, it happens less than college, but definitely happens more in high school when you just you're so confused.
And you very easily can get disoriented, and put the ball in your own basket and score for the other team. You know. Luckily, anytime it happened, I think I did it once. But luckily, it didn't cause the other team to win, because otherwise my team would have had my neck. But uh . . . But yeah, just just scoring an own goal. So . . .
Okay, got it. In fact, in the junior high game, I was watching last week, I saw that happen. Poor kid. And he's one of these guys that he needed to kind of get that first basket, he needed to see it go into relax. And it was his first basket of the year. And as soon as I saw what was happening, I'm like kind of screaming from the stands., "No, don't do it." And it went down, I felt so bad for him afterwards. But again, it didn't matter in the outcome. They ended up winning by a mile.
So there was one thing I just realized that I don't know if you can characterize this as funny. But so when I first started playing volleyball, I played JV my junior year, I was still on JV. I and that was back when the you scored 15. You only scored when you served and went to 15 points. Well, I served a complete game to 15 points.
Is that right?
Yep, this seven straight points. The other team called timeout to try to ice me. And then I served eight more.
All right, that's a good one. Not too many people can do that.
Yeah . . .
All right. So we're gonna break away from sports here for a second. I'm kind of a big movie guy too. So I'm always curious to find out what people's favorite movie category is and what their favorite movie is within that category.
Oh, I'm such a sports junkie that I love sports dramas. And so that would be my category sports drama. Although I do love them good rom com.
So there's your there's sports drama. Okay, so within that category, what do you like?
Remember the Titans. Remember the Titans that is by far my favorite movie. I mean, it also has Denzel Washington my favorite male actor. And that's one of the few movies though that Denzel is in where I don't get to see that walk. I love his walk! So yeah, so a little bit about me so crazy . . .crazy old Mary. She's crazy about Denzel Washington.
Yeah, we have that movie on DVD and I really enjoy it too. So every time . . .that's one of those movies, every time it comes on, I'm stopping for at least 20 . . .25 minutes, you know, to check it out. So good stuff.
We love it.
All right. Okay, so last question. One thing you want to share that most people don't know about you.
Well, probably that I'm that I'm a softball player. And that softball was my . . . is my first love. And uh, my primary sport.
I'm happy to say that I'm 58 years old, and I still play. And you know . . . and people don't really have an idea of how old I am. When I'm on the softball field, because I don't play like a 58 year old. I play like, I play like a 25 year old, you know. I'm very competitive. I want to win, and I get mad if the people are slacking off or whatever, but uh . . .
(Laughing) Mary, relax. This is a picnic, okay?.
Mary . . . She's a mean softball player, women's I play on women's teams. I play on coed. I mean, gosh, when I was up at Temple, my husband was working in Chicago. So I was up at Temple by myself. And so when I wasn't at Temple sporting events, I was on the softball field. And I would go to that softball field. And teams were always short women. So I'd play and then I'd stay and see if the team behind me was short women. And most of the time they were. I mean, I could play three or four games back to back to back some days. . And I loved it. Loved it.
Yeah. Awesome. All right, that's gonna take us to the end of our conversation. Mary, I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today. Just having somebody with your level of expertise, who can speak to how college athletics has evolved over the years and where it's going, has been just terrific. So thanks very much.
It was my distinct pleasure. Thanks, Karl. I really enjoyed it as well. Go Navy!!
That was Mary McElroy, US Naval Academy class of 1987 and the current Senior Associate Commissioner for women's basketball in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Okay, I'll tell you what we're gonna step away for a short break. This is Karl Darden, and you're listening to Navy Sports Central.
All right, welcome back, everyone. It is time now for our Question of the Day. So first, let's go back and check on our responses to the question from our last episode.
Remember, we were talking about Keenan Reynolds being the first Navy starting quarterback in history to 4-0 against Army. And my question to all of you was, how many other Navy starting quarterbacks have beaten the Black Knights at least twice without a loss in the last 20 years? Was it 0,1,2, or 3?
And the answer that got the most votes was two, there were 10 of you that went with that choice. Another three of you chose three starting quarterbacks. And finally there were two others that went with one.
So just to kind of cut straight to the chase here, the correct answer is three. Those would be Ricky Dobbs, Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. and also Craig Candeto. So let me go and break that down for a little bit. Dobbs was the Navy starting quarterback in 2009 and 2010. And he led the Mids to wins over Army and both of those years by scores of 17 to 3 and 31 to 17. In 2006, sophomore Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada took over for an injured Brian Hampton in the middle of the year. And with him under center, Navy won three times by a combined score of 98 to 17. And then finally, Candido was actually a sophomore in 2001. And he did play in that game, which the Mids lost and by the way, that technically was outside of the 20 year window anyway by just one year.
But anyway, Brian Madden started that game in 2001, not Candeto. He did get in right at the end, though, but the outcome had been pretty much decided. So the next year was coach Johnson's first season and Candeto earned the starting job as a junior. And he was 2-0 as a starter versus Army winning 58 to 12, and 34 to 6.
So those are your three Navy quarterbacks who won at least two games without a loss to Army. Congratulations to Jordan Thomas and my two classmates, Joe Arnoso and Paul Barr for coming up with the right answer.
Now, let's get to today's question. And it's similar to the one I asked Mary McElroy earlier in the show. All right, here goes. Which one of these changes would you like to see implemented in men's college basketball in the next few years.
One . . . going from two halves to four quarters to align with the NBA, WNBA and NCAA women's basketball. Two . . . eliminating the one on one and going straight to two free throws on the 6th team foul. Three . . . widening the key from 12 feet to 16 feet, which would match the NBA and that would create more spacing and allow for more movement. And then finally four . . . advancing the ball to half court and the last two minutes of the game after a timeout. You can think about those for a while and leave your answer on the Navy Sports Nation group Facebook page. I should have that question up by the end of the day.
Okay, now we'll go ahead and wrap things up with our Midwest segment. Reagan Roelofs continues to be a constant headache for everybody that Navy plays. In the 13 to 9 win over Holy Cross, she had three goals and won 10 control draws. I actually watched some of that game and Roelofs has both really great reflexes and excellent technique when she wins those draws, and you're not going to lose too many when you've got those two things going for you. She is practically a lock to finish with over 100 control draws. Right now, she's got 82 with three games left plus the Patriot League Tournament. Roelofs also has 36 goals and 13 assists . . . both of which are a team best.
Now with Patrick Skalniak, there isn't a whole lot to report. The men's lacrosse team has only played one game since the last podcast. Skalniak didn't have a goal in that win over Lafayette which they took . . . which the Mids took took 9 to 5. But he did pick up an assist when he found an open Dane Swanson, who took the pass and scored his 15th goal of the season. Skalniak has 22 goals and 17 assists on the year for a team leading 39 points. Teams do seem to be keying on him a little bit more. So we will see what kind of adjustments the Mids make when they play Army this weekend.
That's gonna do it for this edition of Navy Sports Central. Thank you all so much for joining us. Now if you like what you've heard, be sure to follow us wherever you get your podcasts. And remember to spread the word to all the other Navy fans out there.
I'd like to say thanks again to my guest Mary McElroy from the US Naval Academy's class of 87. Really appreciate her sharing her insights on the current state of college athletics and where it could be headed in the future.
We have been getting a great response to our Question of the Day so if you want to jump in on that just go to the Navy sports nation group Facebook page, I will go ahead and pin it to the top so you won't miss it.
And just a quick reminder, the views expressed on Navy Sports Central are my own and do not reflect those of the US Naval Academy or Navy Athletics. By the way the music used and Navy Sports Central comes to you courtesy of Audio Jungle. This is a great site for purchasing the rights to use music from 1,000s of artists around the world. And those we featured in the podcast will be credited in our show notes. Talk to you soon everybody. Until next time, this is Karl Darden . . .Go Navy!! Beat Army!!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai