Mark LaBarbera, Athletic Director at Valparaiso University, recently announced his retirement at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. LaBarbera joined Higher Ed Athletics for a deep dive on the institutional processes and behind-the-scenes decision-making in changing their nickname from the Crusaders to the Beacons amidst controversy. After discussing the nickname the conversation turns to revisiting the two previous conference realignments Valpo went through under LaBarbera’s leadership and understanding why both made sense at the time. LaBarbera shares some historical details about the Pioneer Football League, which does not offer athletic scholarships, and explains why that model is successful and helpful for Valpo. LaBarbera ends the conversation talking about how tough the last two years has been and how he and other experienced athletic directors have to begin thinking about passing the torch and letting the next generation of athletic administrators have their turn.
The questions/topics show as chapters in the video above and separately linked with timestamp below:
- 0:30 Institutional Profile
- 2:23 Name Change Background & Process
- 10:00 Just “Valpo,” & No Nickname?
- 11:55 Procedurally Deciding On Beacons
- 13:54 Determining If & When to Make a Name Change
- 18:40 Two Themes from Survey
- 20:35 The Names They Did NOT Choose
- 22:15 Tactical Operational Advice After Name Change
- 29:10 Lighthouse with Legs as Next Mascot?
- 33:15 Revisiting Two Previous Valpo Conference Realignments
- 37:40 Predicting Current Conference Realignment
- 40:40 Pioneer Football League History Lesson
- 46:35 Passing the AD Torch