SNSB Coach’s Corner: Ryan Erwin, ETBU Athletic Director

Local Sports

SHREVEPORT, La (KMSS/KTAL) – John Sartori sat down with East Texas Baptist University’s Vice President for Athletics/Athletic Director, Ryan Erwin to discuss the NCAA’s decision to cancel all Division-III winter championships. Erwin also talked about the challenges the administration faces during the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact fans have had on games during the year, and how he feels Tiger athletes have handled the changes presented to them during unprecedented times. Read a full transcript of the interview below.

John Sartori: “The NCAA making a decision, a little over a week ago now that they will not be participating or holding winter championships. As someone at the administrative level, kind of just take us through, what was that process like, and then how did you guys find out about it?”

Ryan Erwin: “NCAA has said from the beginning that division III their goal was for 60 percent of the division III schools that sponsor that sport so in this instance, men’s and women’s basketball. 60 percent sponsored it or were competing this spring semester. We thought those numbers were going to be below 60 we were hopeful that it would be close. and that the NCAA would still allow us to host a championship but after running those numbers it was less than 50 percent, right about 48 or 49 percent. That’s when the NCAA then decided to cancel division III winter championships. We’re looking at some other options we may have for competing in an invitational national tournament or additional postseason tournaments if allowed by the NCAA.”

John Sartori: “What have these preliminary discussions been about an invitational tournament? Do you think that it’s going to wind up happening? What is it looking like right now?”

Ryan Erwin: “We’ve asked for further clarification from the NCAA. We’re given so many practice days a year and so many days that we can compete. and traditionally the NCAA postseason is exempt from those numbers. After your conference tournament, you’re able to continue practice getting ready for the national tournament. Hopefully, they rule and allow us to continue play and give our student-athletes a true postseason experience and allow us to do that.”

John Sartori: “I know that you’re allowing family members and students currently and there’s a lot of family members and students that come out and support the Tigers. So you guys have a good amount of fans at every sporting event. Have you guys noticed any side effects of having fans so far?”

Ryan Erwin: “No, we haven’t, the University made a commitment back in the summer that we were going to do what we could to have a normal college experience for our student-athletes and our students as possible. Even having to limit attendance at basketball games and indoor events to 50%. and kind of put a pass list together where we’re not allowing off-campus campus guests. Only parents and family members and then of course our students and faculty/staff. We’re excited to have fans for our students. Several opponents that we play or have played aren’t having fans at all and that takes away from the experience for the students and the student-athletes, so we’re hopeful our fans continue to follow our policies we have in place so we can keep everyone healthy and safe but also allow them to come out and support our Tigers.”

John Sartori: “This year the conference is giving one division winner for the women, one division winner for the men the right to host the conference tournament. In a season where you’re not guaranteed to play postseason basketball beyond the conference tournament how exciting is it for you guys as an administration to give not just your student-athletes, but student-athletes from across the conference a chance at postseason basketball and to create a true postseason environment?”

Ryan Erwin: “We’re excited about the possibility even if we’re not fortunate enough to host. Several of the athletic directors within the conference and even the presidents have expressed the ability to roll out the red carpet as much as possible and really make this a great championship experience because this may be their last chance at a championship and for our seniors the last championship experience they’re given during their career so we want to do it right and we’re hopeful that we get the opportunity to host.”

John Sartori: “What has been one of the bigger challenges that you’ve had to overcome?”

Ryan Erwin: “Some school districts, some universities are shut down because of the weather. Which dealing with the weather on top of COVID is something we’ve never had to deal with some of our fall sports playing in the Spring. Trying to figure out testing, testing 600 athletes or probably 450 athletes a week from all of our athletic teams as they travel has been definitely a learning curve not only for me but our health clinic on campus and those that help us with that and athletic training has been stretched.”

John Sartori: “Do you feel like your programs are, it’s almost like a skill. Are they getting better about the COVID protocols are they getting better about there not being outbreaks?”

Ryan Erwin: “I think things are improving, not only the campus but just throughout the community. Our coaches have bought into it from day one, our student-athletes have been great. They want to play, the last thing they want to do is have an issue where a team has to shut down for a week or two or they go into quarantine while a team is on the road. They understand the importance of making good decisions which allows us to stay on the court or on the field and be able to compete.”

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