Richmond headshot

Randale Richmond gave a presentation to the Kent State community on April 6 on why he should be selected as Kent’s next director of athletics. He spent a decade at Kent earlier in his administrative career and is now at Old Dominion University.

Randale Richmond has spent 10 of his 16 years in intercollegiate athletics at Kent State, and he returned Tuesday to give the final presentation from the candidates for Kent’s next director of athletics.

Currently, Richmond is the senior associate athletic director at Old Dominion University, a position he has held since Feb. 2015.

Before Old Dominion, Richmond held a variety of positions in Kent State’s athletic department including associate athletic director, assistant athletic director, assistant director and graduate assistant.

Richmond completed his undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree in history in May 2004 at Baldwin Wallace University and completed his Master in Science Education degree with a specific focus in higher education administration and student personnel at Kent State University in Aug. 2006.

“Everything that’s going on at Kent State right now is leading to the future,” Richmond said. “That’s from the leadership, to the mission, to the vision.”

Richmond had an overarching theme of his presentation: Kent State, On With Purpose. The presentation was broken up into several sections: the changing landscape of intercollegiate athletics, name, image and likeness, student-athlete empowerment and COVID-19: the post-pandemic reset.

In the first section on the changing landscape of intercollegiate athletics, Richmond discussed the proposed transformation by the Knight Commission  of the Division I model.

“They [the Knight Commision] identified challenges in two areas: structure and revenue distribution,” Richmond said. “The NCAA is currently only responsible for all expenses associated with the governance of all of its sports over all of its divisions.”

Richmond talked about the negatives and positives that would come with the rule change in regard to student-athletes being able to profit off of their name, image and likeness. 

Richmond brought up the issue of individual athletes signing with different brands that might conflict with the brands that the school is sponsored by, and raised concerns about the mental health impacts.

“Team chemistry and mental health concerns are here,” Richmond said. “You have your student-athlete who is contributing most to your team athletically or maybe a little bit less, but they’re key athletes in terms of profitability in the market.”

Richmond spoke about the opportunities for the university in name, image and likeness rule which included the student-athlete development area and financial literacy. 

“How about repackaging the student-athlete development area?” Richmond said. “Right now, many of the things that the students are asking for in terms of name, image and likeness we currently do within our student-athlete development program.”

Student-athlete empowerment and the drawbacks and advantages in current transfer rules were a point of interest for Richmond. 

The drawbacks he spoke about were team continuity, progress towards a  degree, fan familiarity and tampering. The advantages he mentioned were the advantage for mid-major conferences, ability to find the right fit, consistency among coaches, peers and other sports and event strategies.

“Right now, we’ve seen it on the grand stage for issues of social justice and gender inequity, but not on NCAA property,” Richmond said. “The college athlete bill of rights. The student-athlete voice in particular has never been strong.”

Student-athletes using their voices is important, Richmond said. But it faces challenges such as the immediacy of messaging, institutionalized oppression and lack of empathy.

“What are the opportunities in this space?” Richmond said. “The opportunity I learned from Dr. Ron Moses is that interest convergence has the power to change the world.”

In the final section of the presentation, Richmond spoke about COVID-19 and what challenges the post-pandemic period will bring with reengagement of fans and local community, the department’s finances and how recruitment will work.

“What about fan comfort? Will our fans feel comfortable when it is time to come back and be around others?” Richmond said. “What adjustments will we need to make on campus?”

Richmond spoke about the financial side of the pandemic and reiterated that public college institutions have to operate as private institutions with raising funds for scholarships and financial aid. 

Richmond wrapped up his presentation by restating the theme of purpose.

“Whatever we do, we’re going to have to do it on, and we’re going to have to do it with purpose,” Richmond said. 

Following the presentation, Richmond took questions about a variety of topics including fundraising, a potential plan for his first 90 days in office and why he chose Kent State.

“The main core of fundraising is connection,” Richmond said. “It’s people and aligning them with their purpose. I am very confident that under our mission at the university that we’ll be able to reach out, engage and get in front of as many people as possible to support the causes that we’ll have in the areas of staffing, facilities and in scholarship.”

Richmond has a background in compliance and discussed how he plans to help offset the athletic department’s budget with use of generating funds outside of donor engagement.

“Kent State University has a great setup with academic prowess in the NCAA academic base revenue distribution,” Richmond said. “Kent State has been hitting those marks on a perennial basis, so they will be set up for that opportunity to receive funds within that space.”

Richmond spoke about how the next five to 10 years might look different for student-athletes and supporters.

“I believe that we could continue the dominance that we’ve had within our Olympic sports, but we’re going to need to finance towards that,” Richmond said. “I believe that we could have sustained excellence amongst our revenue generating sports and I believe that we could be perennial champions within the Mid-American Conference on an annual basis.”

Finally, Richmond elaborated more on why he wants the position at Kent State. Richmond spoke about how Kent feels like home because of the history he has at the university. 

“In terms of leadership, President Diacon’s unwavering commitment to student success throughout his entire career aligns with what my values are,” Richmond said. “The opportunity of access through affordability is what we do within intercollegiate athletics. We give opportunities for people to train their lives through academics.”

The first director of athletics candidate presentation was given Thursday, April 1 by Margaret McKinley and the second director of athletics candidate presentation was given Monday, April 5 by Jude Killy.

Kathryn Rajnicek is a sports reporter. Contact her at krajnice@kent.edu

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