The College of Charleston’s new Director of Athletics Matt Roberts brings years of experience from high-level athletic institutions around the country — providing new energy to an organization embracing prospective growth.
In his new role, Roberts oversees many administrative aspects of athletics at the College, including hiring and firing athletic staff, operational planning, resource allocation, budget development and financial management.
Roberts took over on Jan. 1, 2017, assuming the role from Charleston’s longtime athletic director, Joe Hull. Under Hull’s leadership, which began in November 2007, the Cougars claimed 42 conference championships in 12 different sports as well as national titles in sailing and equestrian.
“The thing that excites me is the passion for our success and our athletics success is high,” Roberts said. “I’ve been blown away with the litany of support that I have received in a short period of time.”
A 1997 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Roberts got his start in college sports as a walk-on baseball player. Following his competitive career, he became a member of North Carolina’s athletics department, working in the ticket office and later coordinating marketing for five of the university’s teams.
Roberts attained a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Ohio University in 1999, before serving as the Associate Athletics Director for Development at the University of Oklahoma. While at University of Oklahoma, Roberts was in charge of fundraising for the Sooner Club, Oklahoma’s equivalent to the Cougar Club, in addition to administrative duties on several teams. Most recently, in 2012 Roberts took over as Deputy Director of Athletics at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
“When I looked at this program, there were striking similarities with SMU, when we arrived four years ago at SMU and what opportunity the College presented,” Roberts said.
Throughout the hiring process, fundraising ability was emphasized, as Roberts would be tasked with increasing the department’s revenue.
“We’ve got to do a great job through our Cougar Club of being more proactive with telling our story,” Roberts said. “We’re working on initiatives to enhance our brand both through outreach from sponsorships, donations and ticket sales to aggressively increase those revenues.”
A part of the outline for the College’s Boundless marketing campaign included facility upgrades at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant. The 35-acre sports complex was completed in the fall of 2000.
“In terms of a large scope facilities project, Patriots Point is number one,” Roberts said. “It’s a significant need out there.”
The proposed three-story, 20,000-square foot complex will support the school’s baseball, softball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis and sailing programs. Some of those improvements include a weight room and sports medicine facility, more locker room space, more academic study spaces, strength and conditioning upgrades, coaches’ offices and a viewing deck that will overlook the baseball and soccer fields.
The keystone of the plan to take the program to new heights is still in the early stages of fundraising, but in the able hands of Roberts, the prospects are great.
“My motivator every single day is to improve our department in all facets, and if we can enhance our student athletes’ experience, if we can win championships, if we can graduate student leaders then I’ll be completely satisfied with the job that I’ve done,” Roberts said.
Organization and elevator pitches for fundraisers are one component of the operation, but it is no substitute for success on the field and molding the minds of future athletics alumni. As all good leaders should, Roberts recognizes that no one can attain goals on their own, whether in athletics or as a working professional.
“I want to lock arms with our staff, support staff, our coaches, our university support units to do great things together and make it not about College of Charleston athletics but about the College in general, and athletics being a small part of the College’s plan to continue to rise to national prominence.”
*This article first appeared in the April 2017 issue of The Yard.