Jenny Rohl/The News
President Bob Davies takes a selfie with a member of the Racer Pep Band at Tequila Cowboy before the men’s basketball OVC Championship.
Self-described as a college sports enthusiast, President Bob Davies has continued his promise of supporting, promoting and being involved in all aspects of Murray State athletics.
“When our teams play other schools, that becomes their Super Bowl,” Davies said. “The students and faculty are so talented and to just be part of that and see their Super Bowl it is a big deal and if that paves a way for other students then that’s great.”
Davies has made connecting with students a priority. He walks through campus daily and said he makes it a point to interact with students, coaches, athletes and fans no matter if they win or lose.
“Prior to coming to Murray State, Davies built a reputation for being fully engaged with students and he’s not disappointed,” said Athletic Director Allen Ward. “I know our student athletes work extremely hard representing the University and they’ve commented how many times they appreciate Davies’ visibility and support.”
Davies said he tries to attend at least one sporting event, theatric event, music concert or University event involving students each week. Athletes are an important part of student life, he said, and quoted a previous University president saying sports are the front porch to the school.
“Athletics at an American university are interesting and drive a lot of our brand and how individuals perceive a university,” Davies said. “Wrong right or indifferent. I’m not debating the role of athletics but I’m saying what it is out there in the market place. It’s like my daughter says ‘it is what it is’.”
Davies said one of the best parts about Murray State athletes is that when they win, they win with respect and when they lose, they lose with respect. Speaking on the men’s basketball team’s loss at Old Dominion during the National Invitation Tournament on March 25.
“Here’s a little known fact- every time a basketball team plays: half the teams win and half the teams lose,” Davies said.
Though Davies said he has seen many basketball games and other sports, he said he will remember that loss for a long time.
“As I look at the programs as a whole and evaluate them the first criteria I have is what are the students doing academically,” Davies said. “The second is how is the citizenship and integrity of the program, and third is how are (you) on the court, field, track or whatever it is.”
Student athletes such as Robert Broadstreet, freshman rifle shooter from Ozark, Mo., said it feels good to see the University president come to the range, as Davies did during the MSU Tri Match No. 2.
“It was cool to show our president what we can do,” said Ivan Roe, freshman rifle shooter from Manhattan, Mont. “We got off the line and he greeted us telling us we did well. You don’t get that every day and it meant a lot to us.”
With Davies’ attention to athletics is recognized by more than just students. Ward said because of the role he (Davies) plays in marketing for the University, Davies has high expectations for intercollegiate athletics and the students involved in it.
“You’re going to have bumps and bruises,” Davies said. “As long as we don’t have a plethora of them we’re OK. But I’ve talked to the coaches and they understand that we need to have exemplary students in and out of the classroom.”
Ward said because of the constant changes going on within Division I sports, it is important to have an involved president. He said Murray State has a winning tradition and it’s a winning tradition without the student-athlete controversy he sees with other schools. Davies said it is what sets Murray State apart.
“We’re fortunate to have that at Murray State with Davies,” Ward said. “He’s been outstanding to work with.”
Davies said he enjoys his interactions with the students and it isn’t just for publicity. To him, taking selfies with students and tweeting with them gives him a sense of involvement in their lives.
“First (athletics) is an amazing asset,” Davies said. “We have bumps and bruises as we go along. We go along with 400 student athletes and by large they are student athletes. Take any swatch of 400 students and they are an amazing representatives of the school.”
Story by Kelsey Randolph, Assistant Sports Editor