How will the Brad Edwards hire impact George Mason basketball?

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A new era of athletics at George Mason will officially begin July 1st when former Washington Redskin safety Brad Edwards takes over as athletic director. He will be announced officially as the replacement for Tom O’Connor at a press conference June 9 at 11:30 am. The big question now is what will change within the athletic department with Edwards in charge, especially men’s basketball. The widespread feel from fan base is mostly the feeling that more could be done, off the court, to improve the program. Similar programs at the level of George Mason have built up their overall brand off NCAA tournament success. A lot has to do with spending and that is where Edwards’ fundraising abilities should play a large role.

2013 a10 spend

(chart from BBState.com)

Above is the spending by all schools in the Atlantic 10 with data from 2013. Keep in mind with George Mason being new to the conference the numbers might not be up to scale. But it still shows their level of spending on men’s basketball will need to be increased one way or the other. Sure VCU spends a ton more on basketball than anyone else in the conference, but their donations to the program largely surpass most other schools, for obviously reasons. If Mason wants to annually compete in the A-10 they need to spend more money, plain and simple.

And yes, winning solves most problems and will lead to more donations but programs like VCU did more to boast their overall profile that didn’t involve just W’s. It starts with investing in the sport and I think Mason has taken a somewhat passive approach in this area. The previous administration nixed the idea of a basketball practice facility, allegedly turned down an earlier conference move, stopped broadcasting games on FM radio, had a lackluster approach to PR and marketing, didn’t spend money in areas that Jim Larranaga thought was necessary, and then eventually made the re-tread “safe” hire with Paul Hewitt. It’s safe to say that most fans feel a different direction is needed with a bit more aggressive plan.

President Dr. Angel Cabrera was behind the move to the Atlantic 10 and has now further put his stamp on athletics with this hire. It would appear that a new and more aggressive play is already in the works. The conference move was largely based on men’s basketball so there is no doubt that further change is coming. Edwards has more resources now then he ever did at the previous two private schools he was AD at before. Moves will be made in the near future and their will be a shakeup in personnel at some point. It’s very possible that the basketball brand at Mason could be drastically different under Edwards.

Edwards has also been involved with the design and funding of athletic facilities in his prior jobs, an area of college athletics that is increasing becoming more important. Having top facilities is becoming a must if you expect to attract top talent to your university and while Mason’s are not poor by any standards, a little upgrading wouldn’t hurt. The hope is that Edwards can spearhead fundraising efforts that make projects available that didn’t seem possible at Mason prior to his arrival.

Time will tell if Edwards is the right man for the job, but in the mean time he has plenty to do at George Mason.

  • G-n-G

    I’m not opposed to GMU spending more money on basketball. I’d love to see a full, pro-Mason turnout for every home game; gear available everywhere in the DMV; and players and coaches interviewed on the myriad sports radio and TV channels available in the area. Spending more probably is part of the answer, especially given the high cost of living in DC compared with the home towns of any other team in the A-10.

    But I don’t agree that it’s “plain and simple” that Mason needs to spend more money. If you compare the money list with the final results of the 2014 season the situation is much murkier.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Atlantic_10_Men's_Basketball_Tournament#Seeds

    All three teams that spent less than Mason had better records. The one team that had a worse record that Mason (Fordham) spent considerably more than GMU. GW spent about the same as Mason yet had a much better record (similar story for St. Louis). Duquesne outspent most of the teams in the league but had a record barely better than Mason’s.

    Money, facilities, recruiting, talent, player health, coaching, media/national exposure, development, desire, fan support, quality of education, and yes luck all play into how a team does. Mason can certainly do more to improve the areas it can control, but we do well to remember that there are factors beyond any team/school’s control that determine success or failure.

  • ricandersen

    “The previous administration… allegedly turned down an earlier conference move.”

    For a full year, I debated vehemently with the author that this was not the case. My argument was that the A-10 turned downed GMU in 2012, and so Mason quickly put out a release saying they decided to stay put in the CAA. Twelve months later, I talked with a friend on the BOV, who confirmed that Mason did turn down a move to the A-10.

    So, big-time props for Ryan, for getting the story right from the very beginning!

  • dsnjd1

    That photo of Edwards and Hewitt together where Edwards appears to be “motioning with his thumb” is ripe for “satire and mockery……”…..anybody?….anybody?….lol