By: Jill Odom
On March 25, a small crowd turned out for the first ever Chalk Talk, which was presented by the Sports Management Club and IMG. Aaron Taylor acted as moderator and introduced the night’s four speakers composed of Eric Williamson, Chandra Rigby, Larry Blakeney and Sandy Atkins.
Two of the speakers covered the business side of athletics while the coaches talked about their upcoming season. After each speaker, the audience was allowed to ask questions.
Eric Williamson, who works for IMG, explained the company and their relationship with Troy University. IMG is the largest marketing company and has many different divisions but IMG College focuses on collegiate marketing, licensing and media rights. They have been partnered with Troy for seven years now and help create brand affinity on a national, regional, and local level.
Next, women’s basketball coach Chandra Rigby talked about her first year working with Troy’s team and how it is her career to take losing teams and turn them around. Rigby believes that by setting high goals the steps taken toward it will help them improve. This season she wanted 21 wins and even though they didn’t reach this, the team still made progress by beating Middle Tennessee and doubling their wins from the year before.
She hopes the team can make it into the postseason for the upcoming season. Rigby reported that she had been recruiting from the JUCO level and the new Trojan Arena is helping sell Troy because they can see where administration puts its money.
Football’s head coach Larry Blakeney discussed Troy’s rich history in football and the number of individuals being inducted in the Troy Hall of Fame. He also briefly mentioned the North End Zone project stating that it should have been done three years ago. “We need to invest in football. Period,” said Blakeney.
Sandy Atkins, the Associate Director of Athletics for Internal Affairs, stood in for John Hartwell, the Director of Athletics, who was supposed to come but was with Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. visiting the new men’s basketball coach, Phil Cunningham.
Atkins covered the plans for renovations on the golf course, reconfiguring it to have nine holes instead of five. The softball field will have its grandstand and batting cages improved and the dugouts will be moved due to sightline issues.
She went further in-depth on what is going to be included in the North End Zone project. Locker rooms, offices, weight training and athletic training facilities, administration and study hall will all be contained in the North End Zone. More skyboxes will be added to create revenue to offset the cost of the project. There is no set plan for Sartain currently.
One of Atkin’s goals is to increase exposure and Troy merchandise. The Adidas contract is up for renewal and Under Armour has expressed interest but nothing definite has been decided. Four teams will be leaving the Sun Belt Conference; among them are Middle Tennessee, Florida Atlantic, Florida International and North Texas so conference realignment will be a big focus for next year.
“The Sport Management club realized that there was a gap in information for Trojan fans and so we knew that Trojan fans had questions on their minds, because we had had questions on our mind about the future of Trojan athletics. So we wanted to make sure that Trojan fans could come and ask those questions,” said Kelley Curran, a junior sports management major from Houston, Texas.
Due to time constraints, Chalk Talk was not as well publicized as it should have been but is anticipated to occur every fall and spring with coaches from that season’s sports and the athletic directors present for students to be able to talk to.
“I think it would be a good forum to expose all of our coaches to and for questions, especially close to and during the season, maybe a preseason, but I think this was good,” Coach Larry Blakeney said.