Sam Olens made his long awaited Director of Athletics hire today and here I am to give my opinion based off of evidence I can find online :). I’ve never met Overton and haven’t heard of him until this afternoon. With that being said…here we go.
Awhile back I believe Sam Olens announced that he was going to be looking for somebody who didn’t necessarily have to have a background in athletics, and that would have been a huge mistake. There is no fear with the hiring of Overton, who spent 4 years as a starter at offensive guard for Oklahoma and the rest of his career in D1 athletics support and administration.
His background in football is also huge for a school like KSU who (I would guess) will try to move to a better conference in the near future. He must have an abundance of contacts from his previous stints at Alabama and Texas A&M.
(Overton has two sons. One is Micaiah Overton, a 6’5″ 2019 forward from Paul Bryant HS in Tuscaloosa. BCC Al Skinner)
So when Olens announced what he was looking for in a new AD, he emphasized somebody experienced with budgets, fundraising and could manage money. Here is a video from less than a week ago of Overton presenting an artistic and financial plan for a new 9 million dollar athletics facility.
Some key terms from the presentation were “Under Budget, “Value Proposition”, “Squeeze Every Single Dollar” and “How do we generate income off of this?” (he proceeds to explain how). There were some choppy moments due to the environment of the presentation, but overall Overton came off to me as sharp, succinct and had a plan as he explained some of his personal involvements in the process.
Press Release: “Overton was the founder and CEO of Enki System Inc., from 2000-2011, which provided software solutions for athletic and academic support programs across the country, generating over $1 million in gross sales.”
Press Release: “At Alabama from 2009 to 2015, Overton provided oversight for $25 million in budgets and equipment, while producing $6 million in new revenue-generation and cost-saving initiatives. He oversaw seven units, including the No. 1 trademark licensing program for intercollegiate athletics – Crimson Tide Productions – marketing and branding, outbound ticket sales, photography, coaches film video group, athletics information and event technology, track and field, and cross country.”
Press Release: “Florida A&M’s revenue has increased by $2 million dollars under Overton’s watch and fan participation has soared with the football team finishing among the top five in FCS attendance in 2015 and top three in 2016. One of his benchmark initiatives was the establishment of FAMU’s giving program, “Investing In Champions,” that was a key component of the increased revenue.”
He doesn’t check the box for local experience when it comes to Georgia, but he has plenty of regional experience being at Alabama for 6 years and then a few years in Tallahassee at FAMU.
He does bring the high major experience with stints at TCU, Texas A&M and Alabama, and has seen how the big boys do things but also his time at FAMU was important to me in evaluating this hire. Seeing how things are done at the behemoths are important, but being able to take what’s learned, use it, and roll it out on a low-major level with less resources is something huge for me.
Overton made a hire recently for the FAMU MBB program. They brought in Robert McCollum, a 62 year old assistant who hadn’t been a head man since 2007. Here’s some Overton quotes I pulled from the Tallahassee Democrat and FAMU Press Releases.
Overton added, “I’m very transparent with candidates. I do not give a rosy picture. I tell them exactly what it is. I want to know if you really want to be here. Do we recruit you? Yes. But it’s more important to make sure folks know what they’re getting into so that I know they’re a fit.
“If you think it’s peaches and cream, and you come in and it’s not and you have to roll up your sleeves and then you’re knocking on my door every five minutes, I didn’t do my job in vetting you.”
“Coach McCullum has a successful history of recruiting Final Four-level talent in two of the states important to FAMU’s Basketball success – Georgia and Florida.,” Overton said. “McCullum’s international connections will allow FAMU to expand its recruiting base globally and provide professional basketball opportunities for our exiting players.”
He added, “McCullum has also demonstrated success winning in a low resource mid-level college conference while graduating players and raising money for his program. Coach McCullum has a proven ability to develop players to reach their full basketball and academic potential. These key attributes make him the best fit and right man to lead the FAMU men’s basketball program. ”
I’ve been critical of past KSU hires, probably too critical – but I think this one is very solid on paper. The critics will say there’s no name recognition and he’s coming from a small school. It’s correct that I don’t know if it will work out but I can tell you that this hire just makes sense for the objectives that Olens and KSU are looking to accomplish.
I didn’t do the vetting, I didn’t do the interviews — so we’ll have to trust Olens and Co., but from what Overton brings to the table, it’s pretty much what I was hoping for. He is a money savvy sports guy (football background) with a solid work history, who was local or regional and has experience at both big and small D1 institutions.
All I have to say is, time will tell.