CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Acting University of Hawaii athletic director Carl Clapp laughed yesterday as he answered questions in his office.
Hawaii's new acting athletic director places a high value on athletes' education
STORY SUMMARY »
Carl Clapp, acting athletic director at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, is leading the search for a football coach. He joined UH two years ago from Saint Mary's College in California, where he had been athletic director. In an interview yesterday with the Star-Bulletin's Dave Reardon, he talked about his background and philosophy.
Question: You hired a basketball coach at Saint Mary's, Randy Bennett, who is doing very well. Can you talk about the process of hiring a coach? Obviously every situation's different, and the one you're in now -- hiring a football coach here -- is unique.
Answer: There's a lot of great people and coaches out there, whatever position you're looking for. It's about the fit. How does a particular individual fit in a particular position in a particular context? That's the first thing I look for.
Another thing that's really important in the hiring process is good person. The vast majority of people pass that test. I think in intercollegiate athletics a passion (is important). ... In the end we're educators. We teach life through competitive contests -- the preparation and everything that goes into it.
We're teaching young people how to handle success and how to deal with failure. Both are going to happen to them in life.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Acting University of Hawaii athletic director Carl Clapp answered questions early yesterday morning in his office.
FULL STORY »
Carl Clapp is the acting athletic director at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He fit a 30-minute question-and-answer session with the Star-Bulletin into one of his typical 15-hour workdays yesterday at his lower-campus office. Clapp has not moved into Herman Frazier's larger office. Frazier, ousted by UH earlier this week, technically remains the athletic director for now.
Position: University of Hawaii at Manoa temporary athletic director
Born: Santa Barbara, Calif.
Bachelor of Arts, physical education and psychology, University of California at Santa Barbara, 1981; Master of Science, exercise and sport sciences, University of Arizona, 1985
2000-2006: Saint Mary's College of California, athletic director
1995-2000: University of Redlands, athletic director
1992-1995: Avila College (Mo.), athletic director
1994-1995: Midlands Collegiate Conference, commissioner
1988-1992: Emporia State University, assistant director of athletics for external affairs
1988-1991: Emporia State University, assistant football coach
1984-1986: Wichita State, assistant football coach
1982-1984: Arizona State, part-time assistant football coach
1981-1982: University of Arizona, volunteer assistant football coach
1979-1981: Santa Barbara Community College, part-time assistant football coach
Wife Joyce; children Jennifer, Justin, Sarah and Christian
We'll warm you up with a softball. What are your core values as a leader?
Answer: That's pretty easy. You know, first of all, I believe that our vision here is educational. We do that by encouraging bold leadership, vision and collaboration. As relates to some specifics, I value the student athlete. I place the highest importance there, on their experience, educationally and competitively. That includes things like access to the finest academic support, facilities and equipment we can provide them with.
Another value is to build on strengths. I really believe the world moves forward on positive energy.
I also value diversity. That's both diversity of people and ideas.
Q: It seems sometimes, especially in a market like this where the university is the biggest sports game in town, people lose sight of the student-athlete experience being the priority. Do you agree?
A: I think at times in our profession we do lose sight of that, as well. Not just the external, but the internal. We do our best to focus on what is best for the student.
Q: Herman Frazier is a friend of yours. You worked together at Arizona State, and he brought you here. Does that make this transition more difficult?
A: At this point, Herman and the institution are still working through some things. Until that gets worked through, one of the things I want to do is avoid commenting on Herman until those actions have all taken place.
Q: It's quite early (7 a.m.). What time do you get here, and what is a day like for you now?
A: Well, today I think I got up right around 4 a.m. I've already had a meeting. You get on the phones and you do e-mail. One of the things I believe, because my work involves dealing with people, they tend to have their rhythm between 8 a.m. and 5 or 6 p.m. So I try to interact with people during that time and do a lot of the other work prior to 8 and after 6. By noon I've usually got a pretty good day in.
Q: Is 4 a.m. normal for you, or is that because of everything that's going on now?
A: I have an alarm that goes off at one of two times: 4:15 or 5:15. It kind of depends on the workload that day.
Q: So 5:15 is sleeping in?
A: I love the 5:15 days.
Q: Does that mean you go to sleep pretty early?
A: I usually do. I usually get home at least 8 o'clock, sometimes 9 and 10. And then I'm usually asleep pretty quickly. Usually there's a game or a function in the evening.
Q: Are we talking generally around a 60-hour workweek?
A: I don't want to add up the hours, but I think 60 might be light.
Q: Away from work: Obviously you're very proud of your family. How do you find time to do things with them?
A: It's a challenge. One of the things that my wife and I talked about is that we've always had 400 or 500 kids. Getting back to the value of the student athlete: I've always shared my time with student athletes as well as my own family. I've missed a lot of my kids' games over the years. Been to a lot, too.
Q: What's your wife's background?
A: I met her at Wichita State. She was an assistant at the athletic department, and I was a football coach. Just walked next door and we bumped into each other. Graduated from Wichita State, never played athletics. Never was directly involved in sports until we met, and has been passionate about it since. For her, too, it's about the people.
Q: You probably have friends from all over the country due to the nature of your job.
A: I do. What's been comforting is that calls and e-mails have been coming in from everywhere. Yesterday I was in contact with a person I was involved with in recruiting to Arizona State in 1983. So it's been neat to get some of those e-mails of support, "Hey, hang in there. Keep on going." That's one of the great things about this profession. You get to meet lots of great people.
Q: Who are your mentors and influences?
A: Too many to mention, and once I start I'm sure I'll leave some off. But here's a story. A man at Santa Barbara, Ken Durocher, not even knowing me, he turned around and started making some calls. I ended up getting a job, based off of that. That's what got me moving in the profession. Flash forward. Ken Durocher disappears; I don't see him for many, many years. At the Sugar Bowl a gentleman walks up to me before the game and says, "Are you Carl Clapp?" He says, "I'm Ken Durocher." One of the first things I said was, "Thank you. Thank you for helping me." ... I got chances to work with great football coaches: Larry Smith at Arizona and Del Rodgers at Arizona State. My first real athletic administration experience was at Emporia State in Kansas. I learned so much from the athletic director, a man named Bill Quayle.
Q: You appear to be physically fit. Do you work out a lot, or are you blessed with great metabolism?
A: I do work out although I haven't since Sunday. I really like to get a good hour of exercise in a day. I have a bike I love to ride. If I can't do that, I'm in a fitness center on an exercise bike.
Q: You hired a basketball coach at Saint Mary's, Randy Bennett, who is doing very well. Can you talk about the process of hiring a coach? Obviously every situation's different, and the one you're in now -- hiring a football coach here -- is unique.
A: There's a lot of great people and coaches out there, whatever position you're looking for. It's about the fit. How does a particular individual fit in a particular position in a particular context? That's the first thing I look for. Another thing that's really important in the hiring process is a good person. The vast majority of people pass that test. I think in intercollegiate athletics a passion (is important). ... In the end we're educators. We teach life through competitive contests -- the preparation and everything that goes into it. We're teaching young people how to handle success and how to deal with failure. Both are going to happen to them in life.
Q: Can you talk about your experiences as a football coach?
A: I enjoyed it immensely. I got to work with some really good football coaches. Before I graduated I got an opportunity to coach football at Santa Barbara Community College. Then I got the opportunity to work at Arizona for a year as a volunteer assistant. Then I moved to Arizona State, the rival, another couple of years. Then I went off to Wichita State.
Q: What was your background as a kid growing up, as an athlete? Did you play a wide variety of sports?
A: I've always loved sports. I was never a very good athlete. I was always average at best -- and I had to work to be average -- but I got a chance to play with a lot of great players. I played a lot of baseball. In basketball in eighth grade I made a shot from the baseline and got fouled. I did an air ball from the free-throw line, and that's the story of basketball in my life. I did play football through high school and junior college. It was obvious all along that my talent was limited.
Q: What position did you play, receiver?
A: Yes. I was slow and methodical. I would catch the ball. I had a small amount of courage. I was the guy that would run the disciplined routes. I would (go across the middle), and I still have the banged-up collarbones and stuff to show for it.
Q: Where was high school?
A: High school was San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, Calif.; graduated in 1976. I grew up in Santa Barbara. I was fortunate to do so.
Q: What happened with the football team at Saint Mary's?
A: Saint Mary's is a small college. A limited budget and some challenges. A task force was convened while I was athletic director there to review the athletic program and position the athletic program for the future of Saint Mary's. One of the recommendations that came from that task force was that the college should not continue to play football. That task force had a broad range of members. It was a very challenging time and decision to work with.
Q: As a football guy, was that especially hard for you?
A: Yes, it was challenging, to say the least. I was also unfortunately a member of the last football coaching staff at Wichita State.
Q: Those are much different situations than here, right?
A: Part of the challenge (at Saint Mary's) was they were able to offer 15 or 16 scholarships, and I-AA at that time, you could offer 63. So it was a challenge in funding and competitively. In addition to that, they weren't in a conference and didn't have a set of opponents who could be counted on for scheduling. The actual finding was reallocating (resources) from football. There was additional funds, as well, brought to bear to bring the athletic programs forward.
Q: When you came here two years ago, did you know this would be a place you liked?
A: I really enjoy living here, but the thing I enjoy the most is the people. One of the things I found moving around the country is it's really about the people. I've had a blast at every single stop -- even a place with challenges, like Saint Mary's. I'd do it again. Of course the focus now is to move forward, and I would love to stay here. The chancellor and those folks, they'll decide what my role is.
Q: When you came here, you left an athletic director's job for a job which, as an associate director, is not even a lateral move. Even though this is a bigger school, did some people question that move?
A: No question. As I was making that move, those type of comments, as you might imagine, from people in California. But on the other hand I look at positions and opportunities for the challenge, not for the title or even money. I enjoy the opportunity to be around young people. I thank them for allowing me to be part of their educational experience, their competitive experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything.