A window inside life at Augustana College

An interview with Jim McGrath of Butler

The second interview I conducted was with Jim McGrath of Butler University, formerly our own Augustana College. Mr. McGrath offered a unique perspective having started at Augustana, a Division III institution, and then moving to Butler, a Division I school.

 

Jim McGrath – Butler University – Division I

 

Q: How did you get into sports information?

“It was really kind of a round about way. I was actually planning on going onto law school when I was at Augustana. I worked in the sports information office during my last two years as a student and Augie didn’t have a full-time SID at the time, so as students we really did the sports information work. During my senior year I unfortunately got a low draft number and was drafted which meant any career plans I had hoped for, I had to put on hold. Fortunate for me, during the summer right after I got my draft notice and went through my physical and got my orders to report President Nixon halted the call-up and I was put into a holding group and if things would have escalated I would have been in the first group called but I was kind of back on a career track. I hadn’t made any plans to go to law school so I was trying to refigure what I was going to do.  Just about that time the Augustana athletic director called me and said they wanted to make a full-time sports information position and would I be interested. And so I became Augie’s first full-time SID and I did that for 10 years before I turned the reins over to Dave Wrath and came to Butler University.”

 

Q: What do you see as the biggest differences between Augustana and Butler?

“That would be the level on competition and the notoriety and recognition that goes along with it. Certainly the athletes at Augie worked every bit as hard and had every bit as much success and were terrific people to be around. But being in Division III that Augie was when I left, they were NAIA when I started there, there just isn’t as much national media demand. When I came to Butler, moving up to Division I and then as we progressed from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 and now to the Big East the amount of media attention just grew exponentially. “

 

Q: In your office do you employ many student workers?

“We do, we actually use student interns that we get from our journalism school and college of business. They’ll work a semester as an intern. This past year we had four working for us. Some of them have gone on to work into sports information which has been nice. And in fact, some of them I have even hired as assistants here. “

 

Q: How many hours do the student interns work each week?

“We ask that they can commit 10 hours a week. It usually ends up being twice that much with the covering of events. They’ll be in the office maybe 10 hours a week and then they’ll put in another 10 hours working various athletic events that we host.”

 

Q: How many hours do you put in on average per week?

“Probably close to 70. “

 

Q: What do you like most about sports information?

“I like the variety of the job. How it changes day to day. One of the things I’ve told people is that you can come into the office with a to-do list of things that you plan on getting done on that particular day and one phone call can change all of that. You’ve got to be prepared to change on the fly and turn your attention to another task and still be able to get that first one done. I think the constant activity and variety day to day keeps you young and motivated.”

 

This interview was part of the academic portion of my internship in the Augustana sports information office. A third interview will soon follow.

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