Why here? Why now?
New Oregon State vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics Scott Barnes
had clear, concise answers to both questions on Thursday morning during an introductory news conference.
"What I've learned about [OSU], the trajectory the university is on, the great coaches in place, a president who understands what a vibrant athletic department can do for a university" made the job very attractive, Barnes said.
"To be back out in the Pacific Northwest is an absolute no-brainer," he added, noting he was born in Spokane, has relatives throughout the West Coast, and has spent almost all of his 27 years in athletic administration in the Pacific or Mountain time zones.
"This [job] is a destination," not a whistle stop on the way to bigger and better things. "That means, 'Can you accomplish the things you want to accomplish together: Win championships, go to postseason, graduate your student-athletes at a high level and have the quality of life you want for your coaches and student-athletes?'
"We can do all that. This is absolutely a destination job, no question about it. We are building for stability and sustainability in all of our programs," and to create a vision that excites and inspires everyone in Beaver Nation.
Hired on Dec. 22 after a nationwide search, the 54-year-old Barnes will start at OSU on Feb. 13, 2017. He will be in contact with donors in the weeks leading up to his move to Corvallis, however.
Barnes succeeds Todd Stansbury, who resigned in September to accept a similar position at Georgia Tech, his alma mater. Barnes said there will be four legs to the strategic comprehensive plan he'll develop to move the Beavers forward in the coming years:
- Academic success, during and after college.
- Successful, winning, championship teams.
- Developing new resources and creating new partnerships, which he called "the engine" that drives the strategic plan.
- Listening to fans to improve the fan experience and to unify the fan base, the coaches and student-athletes in a common goal.
"When we think about what is next here, priority No. 1 will always be the student-athlete experience," he said. "We will have a comprehensive strategic plan that will be all-in, all the time" by everyone associated with the department.
Barnes said he will take a measured, methodical approach to his new job and will not attempt to re-invent the wheel in the first 100 days of his administration. An overall strategic plan, and facilities master plan, will be crafted shortly as a blueprint for the future.
"We will get the lay of the land" from inside and outside the program before acting, he said. "I want to get the pulse of where we sit.
"We won't make any changes anytime soon, We'll get the lay of the land, see where people sit and make sure they're in the right seat on the right bus and move from there.
"Absolutely a methodical assessment before any changes."
OSU president Ed Ray said Barnes, formerly the AD at Pittsburgh the past 20 months, stood out in a deep, talented, nationwide pool of almost 50 candidates. Ray said Barnes shares his commitment to ensuring student-athletes have every opportunity to excel academically and competitively.
"Scott has demonstrated, everywhere he's been, that he is committed to helping student-athletes be among the very best at whatever they chose to do academically and on the field," Ray said. "He will make a tremendous, tremendous difference here.
"It was clear to me as we moved forward the person we needed to lead us where we aspire to go is Scott Barnes
. He is a proven performer in exciting fans and alumni.
"We need someone to help us move this program to the next level. He can do that … the best is yet to come and I believe Scott Barnes
is the guy who is going to get us there."
OSU baseball coach Pat Casey
was on the search committee that recommended Barnes be hired from what Casey called a deep, impressive field of candidates.
"He just has a such a great vision of what our department can be," Casey said. "He has done it before. He is sincere about being on the West Coast and making [OSU] a place he wants to work at for a long time.
"It was just a good match. There were great candidates. It's nice to look at the talent in that pool of people who wanted to come to Oregon State."
One overriding theme on Thursday was the importance of fundraising, a strongpoint of Barnes' impressive armory, to any sustainable future success.
"We need to build revenues," Barnes said. "We need to give our coaches the resources they need to compete. That means being great stewards of what you already have, but continue to build those resources.
"When we think about ways to move our program forward, we have to be all-in, all-the-time in fundraising," he added. "I've been in athletic administration for 27 years, 17 as an AD but all 27 as a fund-raiser. I'm excited
about the opportunity."
Barnes hired OSU football coach Gary Andersen
at Utah State for the 2009 season. They worked together to transform a downtrodden program into a Western Athletic Conference champion.
Andersen left USU after the 2012 season, but they remained close in the intervening years. Andersen on Thursday described Barnes as a leader who understands what it takes to build a successful department.
"Student-athletes are No. 1 with Scott, and he includes all sports," Andersen said. "He's fantastic at that. There is no hierarchy of sport … everybody is involved and everybody has a voice.
"He was a tremendous fund-raiser for all the sports. No matter how little or how big something was, he attacked it. He's unique, he's different, and he's not afraid to think outside the box at any time.
"He did a tremendous job of understanding Logan, and Utah State, as a whole. He will do that here. He's fair, he's honest, and student-athletes are No. 1 to him."
Barnes said Andersen typifies the coaches at OSU.
"Integrity, a high level of care for the student-athlete, and a plan for success," he said. "When I think about Oregon State, whether it's Gary or any number of coaches, I think they are leaders, coaches who understand what our mission is.
"I can't wait to work with all of them."
OSU men's basketball coach Wayne Tinkle
coached at Montana when Barnes was the AD at fellow Big Sky member Eastern Washington. Tinkle played at Montana for Stew Morrill, who also coached under Barnes at Utah State.
does a great job of supporting his coaches, managing his staff and telling his story to donors, which is vital for our growth as a department," Tinkle said.
Barnes' accomplishments as the athletics director at Pitt and at Utah State were impressive.
• The Pitt football team went 8-4 in the regular season and played in bowl games both years. The Panthers sold a school-record 55,000 season tickets in 2016.
• Dormant football series with historic regional rivals Penn State and West Virginia were re-established. West Virginia will return to the basketball schedule.
• The Pitt gymnastics team captured its initial East Atlantic Gymnastics League championship in 2016.
• The men's basketball team was selected to the 2016 NCAA tournament.
• A total of 379 Pitt student-athletes were honored for achieving a 3.0 or higher GPA for the 2015 spring or fall terms; 24 earned a perfect 4.0. A record 245 student-athletes earned Atlantic Coast Conference all-academic honors and three earned ACC post-graduate scholarships.
• He established the Fan Experience Committee, which took feedback from fans, boosters, students and student-athletes to enhance the game-day experience at Pittsburgh athletic events.
• At Utah State, Barnes oversaw a successful transition from the Western Athletic Conference to the higher-profile Mountain West Conference.
• USU teams won 20 conference championships during his tenure.
• The USU football team was 30-11 overall from 2012-14, and won three consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history.
• Existing facilities were improved and new buildings were added, most notably the ICON Sports Performance Center and the Wayne Estes Center, the home of men and women's basketball and volleyball. Romney Stadium also underwent significant upgrades.
• USU student-athletes had an 87 percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR) in 2014-15, his final academic year in Logan. USU led the WAC in GSR from 2008-13, and was No. 2 in all-academic selections upon joining the MWC.
• He was named the 2013-14 Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year. He served as the chairman of the NCAA men's basketball committee during the 2014-15 academic year.
• He re-introduced the popular "Pitt" script logo for all sports at Pittsburgh in 2015, and oversaw a new athletics branding initiative at Utah State in 2012.
• USU's athletic department was named the most economically efficient in the country in June, 2009, by the Texas A&M Laboratory for the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics. USU also finished in the top-20 nationwide in 2010 (3), 2011 (4), 2012 (6) and 2013 (20).
"He [did] a great job, and if I was a chancellor or president somewhere, I'd hire him too," Pittsburgh football coach Pat Narduzzi said, adding that Barnes is a "super person."
Barnes is a Spokane native who graduated from Fresno State with a bachelor's degree in 1986 and a master's degree in athletics administration and physical education in 1993.
A basketball letterman under coach Boyd Grant, he helped the Bulldogs advance to two NCAA Tournaments and two NITs. He was a second-team PCAA all-star as a senior.
Barnes played professionally for ASG Gottingen in Gottingen, Germany, in 1985-86. He then worked in private business, and as the general manager of the Fresno Flames of the World Basketball League from 1988-89 before starting his career in athletic administration in 1989 at the University of San Diego.
He worked at the University of the Pacific from 1990-94, and at Iowa State from 1994-97, before landing his first athletics director position at Humboldt State in 1997.
Barnes was the athletics director at Eastern Washington from 1999-2005. He worked as a senior associate AD at Washington from 2005-08 before becoming the AD at Utah State, where he served for seven years before accepting the Pitt position in April, 2015.
He and his wife, Jody, have two children: Daughter Milanna, 20, a college sophomore who redshirted on the Utah State basketball team in 2015-16, and son Isaac, 19, a basketball-playing high school senior at North Allegheny High School in the northern Pittsburgh suburb of Wexford, Penn.
Jody Barnes also graduated from Fresno State. She was a standout high jumper who still ranks third on the school's all-time list with a PR of 5-9.75
Jody Barnes accompanied Scott to the news conference. Their children and 8-year old dog, a goldendoodle appropriately named Benny, will arrive in Corvallis sometime in 2017.
"It's an incredible honor, one we are humbled by," Barnes said of his selection. "We can't wait to get started. We are delighted to be here.
"I could not be more excited about the opportunity before us. It's great to be home."