PORTALES — Dick Kaiser was asked how he’d be able to make the transition from Division III Defiance College to Division II Eastern New Mexico University.
After touting his experience at the NAIA level, the longtime DC athletic director answered with 10 numbers — 317-917-6003, the membership services number for the National Collegiate Athletic Association — off the top of his head.
“Just because you don’t know something,” Kaiser said, “doesn’t mean you can’t find out.”
Kaiser is the second of four applicants vying to replace Mike Maguire as ENMU’s next athletic director.
He’s had a career spanning more than 35 years in coaching and administration, including time at Southwestern Oklahoma and Brigham Young University (where he was the scout team coach when Jim McMahon was the scout team quarterback) and various schools throughout the Pacific Northwest and midwest. Plus he has served as chair for Division III’s national football and men’s golf championships.
But the Boulder, Colo., native feels he has one more career move in him after 10 years as the athletic director at Defiance, Ohio, and he hopes it’s to Portales, a few hours from where much of his family still lives in Colorado.
“These kind of jobs in this part of the country don’t open very often,” Kaiser said. “That tells you about the quality of life here.”
If hired, Kaiser would take over a school that has, of late, struggled to compete in the Lone Star Conference, which he calls one of the premier conferences in Division II.
He said he would aim to close the gap with the replacement of some facilities, the addition of new ones and an increase in scholarships and coaching staffs.
Kaiser said if he could change one aspect of ENMU athletics without regard to financial considerations, he’d build an on-campus football stadium with an artificial surface and a track.
“That’s not to say what you have seven miles away is not a beautiful field,” Kaiser said of Greyhound Stadium. “But because of where it’s located, and what you need in community connections, I bet it’s hurt you.”
Regarding scheduling, Kaiser said he’s scheduled the next seven Yellow Jackets football seasons. He said there has to be a mix of playing “the big boys” to see where your team lines up and other teams against whom the school can be competitive.
When asked about “money games,” where larger schools pay smaller schools to be sacrificial lambs on the bigger school’s schedule, Kaiser said each game is different. But if, say, New Mexico State offered ENMU $100,000 to host the Greyhounds in football or basketball, the potential blowout might be worth it.
“We may take a beating for one game,” Kaiser said, “but we’re better off for 10 years because of the weight room (that $100,000 buys).”
Other successes Kaiser mentioned at Defiance included:
• a total of 2,400 community service hours for the year from the athletic department
• a focus to make sure every coach has teaching responsibilities so they see their players as students, to which he mentioned he would like to teach at least one ENMU class each semester
• an alumni communication effort, in part to build the school tradition and in part as a recruiting tool because many area coaches are DC graduates.