ORANGEBURG, SC (WIS) - Taking over any athletics department is no easy task. That statement holds true at South Carolina State.
Under its current financial climate, the Bulldogs have seen coaches as well as programs come and go as the school attempts to remain financially stable.
The task of keeping the athletics department both afloat and competitive now belongs to Stacy Danley. The former Auburn running back has become the university's third athletics director since 2014. Nevertheless, Danley is ready to embrace the challenge.
"I really believe that this is a great opportunity to come into a historic legendary program that has been associated with over 100 championships, three Hall of Famers, currently six NFL players, and the list goes on and on," Danley said. "I wanted to be a part of a championship program. I had an opportunity to meet with President (James E.) Clark and the opportunity to work under his leadership was very, very intriguing because I loved his approach to directing this university."
Clark is well-aware of South Carolina State's financial standing. However, he also understands that it'll take work to improve that standing and he's ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work.
"It's going to be some heavy lifting involved and we understand that," Danley admitted. "The good thing is we have good people and it starts with that, the right people being our biggest asset. So, we just have to come together as a department and make sure everybody's pulling in the right direction and, then, find ways to engage our stakeholders and bring them to the table and see how we can get them involved, how we can make sure we have their trust, make sure they can buy into and believe in the vision that we have for this program.
"We want to be one of the premier athletic departments in the country, not just among historically black colleges. Our goal is to be a program that people around the country to look at and say, 'What are they doing at South Carolina State? How are they having the success they're having?' So, that's our goal."
One of the objectives Danley will have to deal with is whether Buddy Pough will remain with the program. However, it's not his only concern.
"At the end of the year…I sit down with individual head coaches and we look at that program as a whole and we start kind of going through the evaluation process," Danley said. "Like I said, that'll take care of itself when we get to the end of the year. Coach Pough, he and I have a very good relationship. He feels like one of my old coaches, to be honest with you. He's cut from that same cloth. So, I'm excited to have a chance to work for him and watch him as he kind of goes through the process of developing these young men as men as well as football players."
Danley, along with the administration, has a few goals set to raise funds for the athletics department. He said he's received assurance from President Clark that the athletics department will be able to keep the money they've raised. If all goes according to plan, the future for South Carolina State will be brighter than ever.
"Hopefully, we're chest-bumping each other talking about how many championships we've won and how many student-athletes we've graduated, and how much money we've been able to invest into the development of our young people," Danley said. "It's all about them at the end of the day. We want to win championships, but we want to develop and educate young people. That's what we do. But we also want to engage people into this campus and to this university. We have some challenges, but I think everyone should get their popcorn ready. We're going to have some fun as we go through the process."