Heath’s New Job, Schryoer named Interim Athletic Director at McNeese State University
by Jim Gazzolo
In chaos there is opportunity.
McNeese State is looking to make the most out of the chaos that is 2020 by reorganizing its athletic department.
“This is an opportunity to put some pieces in what we think are the right places,” said university president Dr. Daryl Burckel.
The biggest move came when head basketball coach Heath Schroyer was named Interim Athletic Director in June. Burckel said it was a position Schroyer, who is entering his third year at McNeese, has earned.
“We believe this really fits Heath’s strengths,” said Burckel. “He has made an impact not only in our basketball program but within the community. We want to build on that.”
Burckel fired Bruce Hemphill in January and named Tanner Stine as interim AD at the time. Stine guided the school’s athletic programs during tough times, dealing with the coronavirus and shutdown of sports starting back in March.
It was a true trial by fire for Stine, who will stay with the university as one of three Sr. Associate Athletic Directors. He will work closely with the football program.
Tanner has done a great job for us in a tough time,” said Burckel. “We think he has a bright future as an athletic director.”
Schroyer knows his new job won’t be an easy one. Competition for the entertainment dollar was already high in the Lake Area and with the COVID-19 pandemic odds are it will be even tougher to get businesses and people to open their wallets.
Still, like with everything else, Schroyer is ready.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Schroyer said. “Anytime there is adversity there lies great opportunity.”
Schroyer admitted he was a bit surprised when Burckel came calling but now is just trying to get his feet under him.
“Like anything you have a 30-day plan, a 60-day plan and all, but you have to remain fluid in this situation,” Schroyer said. “It’s hard to plan like you normally do in these unprecedented times.
“Right now I’m worried about getting through this year. I’m here to serve the University.”
The area which Schroyer has shined, beside turning around a struggling program, was in the area of raising both funds and the profile of men’s basketball. It’s that ability which earned him the promotion.
“The more we looked at what we needed in the near future, the more we kept looking at the job Heath has done since coming here,” Burckel said. “We are in a battle for the area’s entertainment dollars and Heath has shown a willingness to meet with the community and the ability to raise funds.”
With the future of college sports, especially football, still up for grabs in the fall, it is even more important for McNeese and all schools to maximize their ability to raise money.
“This was a move I believe we had to make for the best of the future of McNeese,” said Burckel.
He doesn’t want any of this to take away from Schroyer’s top goal, to turn McNeese completely around as a basketball program. He got them back into the postseason last year finishing with a 15-17 record.
“When it comes to basketball season we want Coach to be all about that program,” said Burckel. “We think we have surrounded him with the support he needs to be successful at both now.”
As for when the interim might be removed, Burckel said time will tell.
“This is permanent until it is not,” he said.
One thing is for sure,
“I believe McNeese University is the backbone and soul of our community and sports is the front porch to the school,” said Schroyer. “We have to lead this community through tough times.
“Everything now is to gear toward healing.”
In chaos, Schroyer looks for fresh opportunities.