(Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part look at GSU Vice President for Athletics Dr. Trayvean Scott).
By T. Scott Boatright
He traded Jaguar spots for Tiger stripes, and says he understands both the honor as well as the responsibility he now holds for Grambling State University.
On July 1, President Rick Gallot announced the hiring of Dr. Trayvean Scott as the new Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics at GSU.
Scott came to Grambling State after spending 10 years at Southern University, where he was the Deputy Athletic Director/Chief Operating Officer and was responsible for the daily operations of the SU athletic programs.
A former standout basketball student-athlete as a four-year starter and team captain for Southern, Scott remains atop that school’s record books in assists, steals, and minutes played. Scott enjoyed a successful career in financial services after his collegiate playing career ended before returning to his alma mater in 2011.
And he uses a basketball term to describe his early days as the top G-Man.
“It’s been interesting. If I can use a basketball analogy, it’s been a fast break,” Scott said of his GSU experience so far. “It’s been non-stop. It’s been new, it’s been different, it’s been innovative, it’s been challenging … it’s been all of those different adjectives rolled into one. But it’s certainly something — and I’ll say we — we’ve worked hard for. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it since being named on July 1 and going through the transition process. I’ve enjoyed every bit of the journey thus far and I’m excited about where Grambling State athletics is going and where the institution as a whole under President (Rick) Gallot’s visionary leadership.”
Scott realized from the get-go gaining the trust of the G-Nation was of crucial importance as someone coming from Southern.
“As a guy from the other side of the tracks, sometimes it can be a little difficult coming from a rival school and going to an institution with so much tradition and history, and pageantry with NFL Hall of Famers and Super Bowl champions,” Scott said. “That’s not mentioning the shadows left by Coach Rob (the legendary Eddie Robinson) and all he’s been able to accomplish as one of the winningest coaches ever to walk the sideline.
“That is a high honor for me, but it also comes with the responsibility of being a good steward of the program. That wasn’t lost on me.”
Scott said part of building trust means opening doors to alumni and supporters alike.
“My statement coming in was, “If the door was closed, it’s now open,” he said. “And if it was open, it’s open even wider. That’s an invitation to all of our alums, all of our student-athletes, to come back and not just give back to Grambling State University in a monetary fashion, but to also be a part of the path moving forward.”
He also realizes that building that trust will be key toward fundraising efforts for GSU athletics.
“Fundraising is probably the second-most critical piece next to the student athlete experience,” Scott said. “It’s almost a catalyst to providing that student athlete with the experience that they deserve. One of the most primary things you learn in fundraising is that ‘friend-raising’ is more important, because people don’t give to calls, they give to people. Creating that level of trust, programming and engagement is something we’re taking smaller steps on right now, just because we’re introducing all of these new policies, all of these new procedures, all of these new protocols and practices or whatever you want to term them.
“Where I’m more a ‘bull in the china shop’ with regard to being able to take on a bunch of tasks at one time, now I’m really starting to slow down, put the policies in place, because I’ve learned through years of experience that sturdy houses are built from the bottom up and not the top down. We will certainly approach fundraising and ‘friend-raising’ with a heightened sense of urgency in bringing our alums back — alumni engagement is definitely critical. But we want to make sure the inside and the foundation of the house is strong and then be able to build on it from there to make Grambling State University athletics a more sustainable model moving forward and will carry us forward throughout the four-year life cycle of a student athlete and from generation to generation.”
Scott feels his experience as a college athlete will help him make that happen.
“I think they were critical,” Scott said of his days as a student athlete for SU’s basketball team. “My days as a student athlete and a team captain and a student athlete advisory committee representative for men’s basketball certainly played a part. But also my journey as an administrator and working in academics and being a special assistant to the AD and working in internal operations.
“All of those things have played a significant part in my journey of understanding how important it is for the student athlete to have a good experience. I tell our coaches and administrators that there are three things our athletic department has to be — student-athlete centered, coaches-driven and administratively supportive.”
And he hopes that the full-court press he’s making early on will lead to being able to create better experiences for GSU coaches as well as current and future student-athletes alike.
“Understanding my role as what I’ll call chief athletic administrator, I see it as more critical on the front end as it relates to making sure that the coaches can adequately drive their programs and that their student athletes can have the utmost experience,” Scott said. “But in the grand scheme of things, I’m more in the background, allowing them to have the ability to enjoy the fruits of their labor, to enjoy their four years, because they’re going to cherish this for the next 40 years of their lives. If we do it right, then we’ll create a cycle of student athletes coming back to our campus to donate to our programs to make it better for the next generations of the Grambling State University Tigers.”
(NOTE: Look for Part II of our look at new Grambling AD Trayvean Scott in Thursday’s Lincoln Parish Journal.)