Growing up in New England, as the son of a U.S. Army veteran, Webster University Athletic Director Scott Kilgallon said that had it not been for an athletic scholarship, he would have enlisted in the Army. Central Connecticut State (CCS) University had recruited Kilgallon as a runner and offered him a scholarship to their school. All they needed from him were his ACT scores.
“What are those,” Kilgallon asked the recruiters.
Kilgallon said that he “didn’t have an academic background” growing up. But today, Kilgallon has a Bachelors Degree in Graphic Arts from CCS and a Master’s Degree in Management from Lesley University.
“For me, the foundation, before we even talk about athletics, is the academics. I am a first-generation college person, so I value education. But I also know that athletics got me into college, and it kept me in college,” Kilgallon said.
Kilgallon’s track record as an athletic director illustrates just how well he builds. Under his watch at The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, student-athletes recorded a combined grade point average of 3.0 or better and the athletic department earned three national championships in 2008, 2009 and 2013, The Journal reported in April.
Before Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Kilgallon was the athletic director for Southern Vermont College. Kilgallon said he helped build that program from scratch.
“They weren’t even in the NCAA,” Kilgallon said.
Paul Carney, who is the Assistant Provost for Student Affairs and Athletics, said as athletic director for Webster, Kilgallon will not have to build the program from scratch. That task was completed by former Athletic Director Tom Hart.
“Tom Hart did a great job in terms of building the program from literally nothing to a solid Division III program nationally, in terms of where we stand, in terms of all sports awards and things like that. Also to a leader to the (St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference),” Carney said.
The expectation for Kilgallon now, is to take a good program to great. Carney said the athletic director search committee members were impressed with his past experience.
“We were very impressed with Scott because he did the same thing at Wisconsin-Eau Claire. They were a solid program when he (became their athletic director). He was able to grow the program and advance the program in terms of national competitiveness. That is something we are interested in doing,” Carney said.
In addition to education, Kilgallon said the welfare of his student-athletes will be important. Kilgallon said that while it is encouraged for coaches to help their athletes talk things out as much as they can. He realizes that some problems are outside a coach’s expertise and help is needed.
“There are certain areas that, as much as we are involved as coaches and athletic directors, there are areas we are not qualified for. Those are areas where you see someone in a desperate situation where they could harm themselves or others or are spiraling out, absolutely, that’s part of the component and get them in touch with someone on or off campus who can help them,” Kilgallon said.
Kilgallon said he has noticed that come November, toward the end of the semester, students as well as faculty, begin to unravel as “it gets darker, the weather is colder and the papers and tests are building up.”
That is when Kilgallon has invited an on-campus counselor to speak to the athletic staff to inform them on what signs to look for to tell when a student in struggling and the knowledge of where the student can get help. With education and a healthy state of mind, Kilgallon also plans to supply his student-athletes and coaches with proper facilities, which he said was probably the biggest issue he sees at Webster.
“We got crowded locker room spaces, coaches doubled up in office spaces with no walls,” Kilgallon said. “It’s not a new challenge as far as using other facilities. The challenge is getting the funding and getting a home for our studentathletes in areas where we don’t have facilities, places for them to practice and
Kilgallon said with the budget being tight, the athletic department will need to look for different avenues to supply additional funding. Kilgallon said fund raising, alumni support and corporate sponsorship would be huge opportunities for Webster. When building a structure, a solid foundation must be laid. But before a foundation is laid, a blueprint must be created. Kilgallon created his blueprint for building a successful athletic program the day he wrote his thesis for his Master’s Degree. The subject of his thesis was what makes a successful athletic director.
“The college athletic director of the [time] is no longer he who can yell the loudest. You have to have a passion to for working with young people, a passion for sports and you need to have a business background.”