Guice in key role on C-USA Board at crucial time
Conference USA is positioned to make dramatic improvements to enhance its brand, improve the academic experience of its student-athletes, and offer more innovative viewing experiences for its fans. Represented by Louisiana Tech President Dr. Les Guice, the University will have a front-row seat for decision-making and direction during this critical time.
Guice was elected Vice Chair of the Conference USA Board last June at the league’s annual meeting and will likely become Board Chair when Southern Miss president Rodney Bennett, the Board’s current Chair, sees his three-year term expire in June 2020.
“The C-USA Board Vice-Chair is a critical role,” C-USA Senior Association Commissioner Robert Philippi said, “dedicated to providing leadership for the Board of Directors in setting policy to further advance the strategic objectives, innovative practices, and new initiatives of the conference membership.”
Providing leadership is something Guice has become quite good at, although he spends little time looking at himself that way.
“I usually find things I have a passion for, then develop a plan and work toward a specific goal,” he said. “I do think when you lead an organization, you have to help define what that organization can be best at, then have a passion about pursuing that. Identify things you can do that will have a significant impact.”
An example is Tech’s trenchless technology center, non-existent 30 years ago when Guice was head of Tech’s civil engineering department. A young faculty member named Tom Iseley was recruited specifically to begin the center. It quickly rose to national prominence and remains influential.
“The right thing at the right time with the right people,” Guice said of what he feels is always a winning formula.
“We are fortunate that in Dr. Guice we have a president who leads by example through his service,” Tommy McClelland, Tech’s director of athletics, said. “He is great at getting others to voice a vision and then helping others see the vision through by either building the foundation, equipping us, or expanding on what we are attempting to accomplish, always with the clear goal in sight.
“I feel comfortable,” he said, “even empowered, knowing that he is on our league’s executive committee; Louisiana Tech is lucky have him; so is Conference USA.”
The league has several opportunities immediately before it, including a Financial Literacy Program that was adopted last summer.
“Really important, both to our league and nationally, is student-athlete success and their health and welfare,” Guice said. “We have to continue to make sure they are coming to the University to get degrees, and we have to continue to improve our academic performance.”
Other immediate opportunities:
“There is a big focus on improving our brand, getting it before a larger audience,” Guice said. “Through marketing efforts, our social media activities have been increasingly successful in the conference; some of the best early data shows we have a better social media presence than before. Enhancing our product this year when we’ve seen success of some of the newer members in the league, that visibility helps us all.” (Florida Atlantic, North Texas and Tech, among the newest members since league expansion and re-alignment in 2013, each went to bowl games in December, as did longtime member UAB, which began football again last fall after a two-year absence.)
NCAA Tournament spots
“We’ve brought in consultants to help us work on scheduling and ideas to find ways to get more spots in the tournament,” he said. “I think we’re moving in a direction that will pay dividends.”
“Our latest deal with CBS Sports and our other partners puts Conference USA in the forefront of being able to deliver our athletics programs more broadly than we could before,” he said.
Quality of university broadcasts and streaming
“We should be up to ESPN3 quality by the fall; this goal is conference-wide,” Guice said. “At Tech, we’re in the process of finding out what that will take concerning infrastructure and a studio that would allow us to distribute all of our sports more broadly across the nation. Then not only can we stream any sport at just about any time, but also we can offer other kinds of content our fans and alumni and friends deserve, like academic content, cool things going on with alumni and students that all gets woven into this in a much better way than the traditional broadcast model. I think this is going to support all of our institutional goals. It’s up to us to be prepared to seize the day and be ready to prepare good content for delivery over those systems. Another great opportunity for us is to develop some academic programs, minors and other kinds of things in broadcasting and content development, so students can come out of here with that particular expertise; they’d be in high demand among employers.”
C-USA Financial Literacy program
The InTouch with C-USA Financial Literacy program is a series of three- to 10-minutes interactive learning modules on key financial topics including money management, credit reporting, identity protection, and taxes. Additional education regarding NCAA scholarship rules and federal financial aid regulations will be advanced in the future. Courses can be accessed by student-athletes at any time on their phones via the C-USA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) App which is available on iTunes and at Google Play, or on their computer/ta