At the start of June, IIT appointed Enzley Mitchell IV as the university’s new Athletic Director. Mitchell joined the school from Northern New Mexico College (NNMC), where he served as athletic director and head men’s basketball coach for two years. On Thursday afternoon I stopped by his office at Keating Sports Center, to interview Enzley to see how he has settled into his new position, and to see what his plans are for the university’s athletics department.
What is your view of where IIT Athletics currently is, and what direction do you believe the department should go in?
When I first took the position, I looked at the fact that we have a mature, established program that has a lot of potential for growth. Obviously the extent to which we can expand depends on what we can do within our budget, and what we can do with our current facilities. I think if we keep those two things in mind then we can look to see where, and if, expansion of the program would make sense. I think it’s also important to consider that we need to continue to enhance & support the existing programs that we already have here at IIT. My goal is to make sure that everyone who is associated with the department - coaches, student athletes, and fans - have a first class experience when it comes to IIT Athletics. With this in mind, I think we want to look to expand our programs, but make sure that in doing so, we don’t sacrifice our existing ones.
What is your opinion of your new coaches, staff, and varsity athletes?
I think we have a great group of student athletes, coaches, and staff here at IIT. Everyone has been extremely helpful, in terms of welcoming me to the university and ensuring that my transition into the job went as smoothly as possible. I’ve had an opportunity to meet with only a small percentage of the student athletes so far - as a result of starting the job in the summer, when only a few of the athletes were around - but I’ve tried to introduce myself to as many athletes as possible. Hopefully over the next week I’ll be able to see nearly everyone in action in their respective sports. I also think that we have a great group of students here at IIT in general. My interaction with the students that I’ve met so far has been wonderful. I’ve tried to meet as many people as I could, but there has also been a number of students who have sought me out to introduce themselves. I look forward to meeting other students, and student athletes, in the coming days. We have our welcome reception for all student athletes and coaches this Thursday (September 2) from 11am-2pm at the BOG, which will be another opportunity for me to interact and meet as many people as I can.
What is your opinion of the school’s athletic facilities?
I think with facilities, unless you’re in a situation where you just built or renovated, as coaches we always want more. Do I think there’s the potential to upgrade? Absolutely. And that’s one of my challenges, in terms of fund-raising and prioritizing the areas that need attention. The roof here at Keating is obviously an area that needs some immediate attention. We’ve also done some emergency maintenance work on the soccer field, and we’ve looked at some repairs on the baseball field. We’ll continue to look to see where we can upgrade facilities, but a lot of that comes down to capital. We’re going to have to put together an aggressive athletic development campaign, with assistance from the administration, to identify what makes sense financially in the long term. In general though, I think the facilities are adequate for our program at this time, with some minor improvements.
Do you have any thoughts on how the department could better market varsity and intramural sports to IIT faculty and students?
Yes, definitely. One of the things that I’ve been hearing is that a lot of the time, faculty and staff don’t exactly know what’s going on with varsity sports. To help solve this, I’m planning on putting out an e-mail blast the week of, and the day of, events. For instance, if we had a Men’s Soccer game on a Thursday, we would send out a blast on Monday, and then also the day of the event. I think that that will go a long way to getting the information out there. Even something as simple as putting up posters in the right places will help. I think a lot of what we have to do is to do a better job of spreading news by word of mouth and generating excitement on campus. From what I’m hearing the major problem is that the campus community simply doesn’t know what’s going on, and hopefully we can rectify this with email blasts, posters, and better verbal promotion.
What are your short- and long-term goals for the department?
My short-term goal, within the first year, is simply to get a feel for how we do things here at IIT. I’d like to get to know my staff better, to see what everyone brings to our department. Part of what I’ve done immediately is to determine what my staff’s interests, experience and talents are, and to realign duties within our department to better utilize our staff’s strengths. In the long term, after the first year, I plan to put together a strategic plan for Athletics. This will be something that we can present to the administration, and that will hopefully coincide with President Anderson’s overall strategic plan for the university. In the short term, I don’t anticipate any big sweeping changes. It’s going to be more about keeping continuity with the current students and coaches, and addressing issues as they come up. The first year I’ll definitely sit back, see how we do things, and identify how we can improve our department and the experience for our student athletes.
There have been rumors circulating that the school is looking to enter the NCAA at the Division 3 level. Is there any truth to these rumors?
I haven’t heard that rumor myself. I think there’s always some speculation when there’s change and transition, but there’s absolutely no truth to that rumor. We’re committed to the NAIA and the CCAC.
Given your basketball coaching history, is there any plans to bring the varsity basketball program back to IIT?
I think it’s something that should certainly be on the table. We’ll consider adding basketball, along with a number of other sports, and we’ll see what makes the most sense for the department and the institution as a whole. I wouldn’t rule it out. Could I put a time frame on it? No. It’ll certainly be something that will be considered as we look to expand. Once again though it comes back to budgeting, facilities, and space. We want to make sure that we don’t sacrifice any of our current programs to add another one.
Is the school looking to add any other varsity sports teams in the foreseeable future?
I think right now, the one that makes the most sense to add is bowling. It’s an emerging sport in the NAIA, and we’re one of the few institutions that have a facility on campus. From a cost standpoint it makes sense, and we have a very talented club team that should be able to transition into a varsity team. I would also like to look into adding tennis, but there are some facility issues there. As I mentioned, we’re going to look into adding basketball, and men’s volleyball would also make sense. Those are the four sports that we’re currently considering adding at the moment. A lot of what will drive our growth will be what the CCAC is doing: looking at what sports other member institutions are adding.