The University of Alaska Anchorage’s new athletic director, Keith Hackett, wrapped up his first 100 days on the job last month.
He’s finished his first Great Alaska Shootout and watched the cross country running and volleyball seasons cap off successful seasons, but he says there is still work to be done.
When Keith Hackett was hired, UAA was in the midst of recovering from the controversial firing of former athletic director Steve Cobb and hockey coach Dave Shyiak.
During the hiring process, Hackett knew of the lingering fractures caused by those events, but, it didn’t deter him.
“I accepted it knowing that and knew that what I had to do was be ready for, ready for anything,” he said.
So far, Hackett has spent a lot of time building new relationships and trying to rebuild old ones with community members and partners that were damaged or had fallen by the wayside over the past several years.
“I’m a firm believer in no one of us is smarter than all of us,” Hackett said. “And we just, I think it’s just so critically important for me in my role to bring people together.”
Among those relationships Hackett is setting out to repair is with Anchorage’s hockey community. Mark Filipenko is the president of the UAA Hockey Alumni Association. He says he likes what he’s seen from Hackett so far.
“Asks a lot of questions. I think he’s really trying to figure out what the next steps are and the best steps to improve the program [are],” Filipenko said. “And he has some really good ideas himself, coming from a successful program. So, it’s been a real nice pleasure working with him.”
There have been a lot of questions for Hackett to answer as he has spoken with members of the community. But, having only been in Anchorage and at the university for a few months, he says some are difficult to answer.
“Most of the questions have been, well: ‘What are you gonna do with this? What are you gonna do with hockey? How come there’s no ice at the arena?’ You know, I don’t have some of those answers, I just know that I’m gonna do the very best I can every day to help our student athletes to be successful and in turn help our coaches to be successful, help our university to be successful,” Hackett said.
But, he says even if he doesn’t have all the answers yet, those conversations have helped him identify some of the issues the athletics department is facing.
Hackett has also been eyeing other issues that need to be dealt with – most notably, revenue.
“My plan with regard to the financial equation has everything to do with generating revenue,” he said. “And that’s through ticket sales, concessions, rentals, all those kinds of things, because we have to take on a larger part of that burden.”
That issue is growing especially prevalent as the department prepares to move over to the new Alaska Airlines Center, which will cost an estimated $2.7 dollars per year to maintain.
Hackett says the sports center will open up opportunities for new revenue streams that are currently unavailable.
“We have to do some things to fully utilize or maximize the use of that building, and part of that is gonna be we want more people to come to games,” he said. “So, we have to go out and sell tickets; we have to find a way to get people to come.”
Ticket sellers will have a big job once they start work next summer, as the Alaska Airlines Center holds about 4,000 more people than the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.
Hackett is currently working on a report outlining his first 100 days on the job and identifying issues the department needs to address.