by Donnie Brooks
My name is Donnie Brooks, and I am the new director of athletics at Millsaps College. The anonymous opinions article recently published in The Purple & White characterizes Coach Tim Wise without noting the standards of excellence that Wise and the college expect in coaching. It also neglects the many ways Wise meets and exceeds our expectations.
Upon meeting Wise, it became immediately clear to me that he loves Millsaps. The statistics of his last three seasons mirror the challenges experienced by many of our teams. As I prepared for my move to Millsaps, I saw an athletic department with a majority of its teams stuck in the bottom or middle of the pack. Two of our 18 teams won league titles last year, and only one moved on to NCAA competition. As the new director of athletics, I now take on the responsibility of helping our coaches, athletes and teams live up to the Millsaps motto of Ad Excellentiam.
I immediately identified men’s basketball as a program in transition, and I made it a point to get to know several of the team members within my first 48 hours on the job. In my dialogue with current players, they discussed many challenges within the program, but insightfully recognized that a coach alone doesn’t produce a losing record. I firmly believe that the absence of a stand-alone athletics director for most of 2015-16 was a disadvantage to all involved.
I am here because I saw a diamond in the rough. Millsaps is a great academic institution, with pockets of athletic success. An unpolished diamond is still a gem, but it takes work to shape and polish that gem into something so valuable that people will pay a great price to attain it. After accepting my new position, I immediately began planning the new structure for investing in our student-athletes. I take comfort in the fact that my previous institution, Dartmouth College, was also a diamond in the rough. Through strategic investments, we achieved feats that had escaped us for nearly two decades. Our platform for investing in our athletes focused on the athletic, academic and personal development of student athletes. We also invested in our coaches, providing professional development opportunities, and found ways to coach the coaches. Elements of that program will become, at Millsaps, the Major Difference.
Athletes and non-athletes at Millsaps will immediately feel the change in our athletic culture. We will continue the recent enhancements to the game-day atmosphere, but most importantly, we will introduce a program that will serve as the umbrella for the development of our athletes, coaches and teams. Current athletes and recruits will experience the Major Difference in the delivery of services in their lives. They will feel our support when they are struggling to find the balance between rigorous academics and competitive athletics.
I now write to the student-athlete who authored the opinions article: I know we have room to grow, and we will grow. I hope you are around to see and feel the changes. I hope in the future you learn that leaders take time to get to know people and assess the situation before rushing to decisions. I hope you work for a leader who is willing to listen to all sides. I hope he/she is willing to invest in employees rather than to get rid of them immediately.
I hope that we, as a college, can all rally around what will be a new era in Millsaps Major athletics. To our supporters, you will also be the Major Difference! We will need your support and attendance to cheer us on. Your classmates who participate on varsity teams will be working hard and purposefully to make sure next year, especially the fall season, is one of excitement, improvement and success on and off the fields and courts.
I hope you’re enjoying your summer. If you see me on campus, don’t be afraid to stop me and introduce yourself, or just say, “What’s up”. I look forward to seeing you upon your return!