CSL Daily

January 31, 2014

VA Tech Assoc Head Coach Shane Beamer Talks to CSL Students

photo 2 (5) VA Tech Associate Head Coach Shane Beamer returned to the Center for Sport Leadership for the second time to talk to our graduate students.  The Hokies running back talked to Dr. LeCrom’s Leadership class about the values and principles he has learned in more than a decade of coaching experience. Beamer also talked about what he has learned from his father legendary VA Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer.

Asked what is the most valuable coaching lesson he has learned from his dad, Beamer said, “Consistency. His demeanor with the team and staff is the same after a 30 point win or a 7 point loss.”

Beamer also talked about the other coaches he has worked for included Phillip Fulmer, Steve Spurrier and former Mississippi State Head Coach Sylvester Croom, the first African-American head football coach at an SEC school.

Keep an eye out for video clips of Coach Beamer’s talk to the CSL.

January 29, 2014

Faculty Forum – Super Bowl MVPs

by Greg Burton

I already know who the Super Bowl MVP will be. russ & mike
At the conclusion of Super Bowl XLVIII, the media will vote on the Most Valuable Player. This reporter has already awarded his Super Bowl MVP-Most Valuable People- to Richmond natives Russell Wilson and Michael Robinson. RVA (as we refer to our city) could not have two better men representing Richmond.

If you looking for a rundown of their season statistics or quotes regarding Sunday’s game, you may want to skip over to   I’d simply like to tell you about two guys who care about helping people and are determined to make an impact far beyond the football field.

Michael Robinson grew up in Richmond’s rough East End. For kids in this part of city, images (2)graduating from high school isn’t a given. Robinson graduated from Varina High School, with honors, and earned a football scholarship to Penn State. Nittany Lion fans often laud Robinson for being the Big Ten Player of the Year and leading them to the 2005 Orange Bowl title. His bigger accomplishment at Penn State: graduating in three years with an advertising/public relation degree and then earning a second degree in journalism.

The 30 year old has used football to make his life better. Now, he is using football to make other people’s lives better. Robinson created the Excel to Excellence Foundation, mike rob football campdedicated to providing educational programs and facilities to under-served communities.  Each summer, the eight year NFL veteran returns to Richmond with some of his teammates to host a free football clinic with a unique twist. The on-field instruction is accompanied by off-field classroom work, teaching kids real-life skills and preparing them for higher education whether it’s college or a mastering a skill that will lead to a professional career.

Just this week, his foundation launched an even more innovative program. Team Excel is an educational program geared towards 9th graders at Robinson’s alma mater Varina High School. Think of it as reverse fantasy football. Robinson, some of his NFL teammates and other community leaders will “draft” students, who earn points each week for academic performance, attendance and community service.  Robinson’s ultimate goal is to construct a learning center where youth can get educational assistance, guidance and counseling year round. In an interview last week on my radio show, Robinson talked about why he looks for new ways to help kids in his hometown.

“My goal when I got to the NFL was always to show the kids that’s walked down the same mike robhallways at Varina, that’s dealt with the same drug dealers in Church Hill, Fulton and Highland Park and those areas, that you can do it. I walked those streets, I encountered those same distractions, you can do it. I’m from the same city so as long as you keep believing, keep God first and keep believing and make sure your school work is first, you can do it.”

Russell Wilson always knew he could do it. His father knew he could do it. It just took the rest of us some convincing. We should have seen it. Always mature for his age, Wilson Russell_with_camperswas groomed for the Super Bowl spotlight by his late father, a former NFL player. He has also been prepared for the responsibility and obligation that goes with being an NFL superstar. When he was a high school junior at Richmond’s Collegiate School, he had an idea for a football camp for inner city kids. After his rookie NFL season, the Russell Wilson Passing Academy was launched in five cities: Richmond; Raleigh, North Carolina (where he attended NC State); Madison, Wisconsin (where he attended University of Wisconsin); Spokane and Seattle, Washington (Seahawks country);. He decided to give back to all the communities who had played a role in his development as a player and a person.

Wilson has also taken it upon himself to make weekly visits to the Children’s Hospital in russell wilson hospitalSeattle. The team didn’t set it up. It wasn’t part of a Seahawks community outreach program. He just showed up one day and said, “I’d like to talk to some of the patients, if that’s ok.”

I’ve heard people lament that you can’t teach that, the kind of generosity, kindness and sense of obligation Wilson and Robinson display. I disagree. Yes, both of these men have an innate sense of service but they were also molded by strong role models in their lives, who instilled in them the belief that playing football is a privilege. If football leads to a better life, then it is your responsibility to use your place to pull others up. russell wilson

There are many professional athletes, many of them quietly and out of the spotlight, who make the same impact in their community like Wilson and Robinson have. We, in the media, have to do a better job of highlighting these stories, spreading the word about players who care more about others than themselves. Hopefully, that will motivate more athletes to comprehend the power they have in their communities and the lasting impact they can make by playing a more active role in the development of the next generation.

I have known Russell Wilson and Michael Robinson since I covered them in high school. They are grown men now yet, still the same people. Their football talent was evident at a young age but so was their character. When they take the field Sunday in Super Bowl XLVIII, I will root like hell for them because, win or lose, they will not change. They’ll return to Richmond during the off-season to help kids and make communities better.

Players say “the ring is the thing.”  Make no mistake: Wilson and Robinson desperately want to hoist the Lombardi Trophy Sunday. The same drive that has powered them to this point in their careers will continue to fuel their determination to impact lives long after the cheering stops.

Greg Burton, an affiliate faculty member of the Center for Sport Leadership, has been a sportscaster for 23 years, the last 15 in Richmond. He hosts a daily sports talk radio show on ESPN 950. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @hardlyworkin950


January 28, 2014

Dr. LeCrom Interviewed about Security Concerns at Winter Olympics

The Washington Times published an article today entitled “U.S. Olympic athletes in Sochi forced to put trust in Putin for their security.”

CSL Executive Director Carrie LeCrom provided valuable insight for the Washington Times lecrom-lgarticle. Specifically, Dr. LeCrom was asked about why Olympic athletes do not appear as concerned with security as others.

“One of the reasons for that is the athletes are going to be the most well-protected people there,” said Carrie LeCrom, director of the Center for Sport Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Ms. LeCrom’s research focuses on global sports issues on an international stage.

“While anything can happen, there will be security around the athletes,” she said. “They’ve been very well briefed on what precautions are being taken to protect them.

“The second and maybe bigger reason is the focus. These athletes have trained not only for four years, but for their whole lives for this moment. The mental capacity needed to be an athlete at this level lets them focus so directly on what they’re there for. This is, for a lot of them, their only chance. Their mind has to be on competing. They just know and are able to sort of turn the switch on and off. This issue is one of the things they’re having to do it with.”

Read more:


January 28, 2014

Alumni Profile-Omar Banks

by Kelsey Crawford, CSL Graduate Student

When asked what it takes to be an effective leader, Omar Banks, the Senior Associate omar banksAthletic Director and CFO at the University of Cincinnati, immediately says integrity.

“People are the most important part of leadership because a leader is nothing unless people are willing to follow.  People will not follow someone they cannot trust, and if you do not have trust, you will not be an effective leader.  It is the foundation of true leadership. Accountability, respect, communication, confidence, positive energy, and creativity are also important qualities, but in the end, none of them will matter if you don’t have
integrity. ”

Throughout his career in the sports industry, Banks has tried to implement many of those qualities, holding a number of positions that require effective leadership skills. His responsibilities include overseeing the department’s overall budget, human resources, strategic planning and facilities master planning in collaboration with the Athletic Director.

Thanks to his strong leadership skills and integrity, Banks was elected this past summer to the College Athletic Business Management Association (CABMA) as 3rd Vice-President and secretary. CABMA

“This is a tremendous honor for me, as I was elected by a group of peers that I work with on a daily basis.”
This is a five-year commitment for Banks, with responsibilities changing each year until becoming President of the organization in the last year of his five-year commitment.

For Banks, the route to working in college athletics was by no means clear-cut. After playing football and receiving his Bachelors in Business Administration at the University of Richmond, he went to work in corporate America. He worked for well known companies like FedEx, IBM, and Fidelity Investments in accounting and finance. Banks knew he always wanted to work in college athletics and while obtaining his MBA and interning at NC State, Banks thought about where he wanted to go with his career. He concluded he wanted to work in accounting and finance within a college athletic department.

The hands-on and real world experience is what drew Banks to the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU. After graduating in 2004, Banks landed his first job in the sports industry at Hampton University.
“The experience was great, but the pay was nowhere near the salary I was making in corporate.  I knew that the experience would eventually pay off, and I ended up back at VCU as the Director of Ticket Operations.”
He notes that he was able to hone his skills while at VCU and that’s what got him the job at Cincinnati, where he was promoted into his current position.

Banks wants CSL students to understand that most first jobs in the sports industry do not have huge salaries, but you can gain invaluable experience.

“Set a goal and work towards it.  Find the right job and you’ll be happy and never have to work a day in your life.”

When discussing the five core values of the CSL program, Banks believes that accountability is the most important value, aside from integrity. accountability

“People tend to find all kinds of reasons to not be accountable for certain decisions they make, to make themselves look ‘good’ at all costs, or blame others for what’s going on around them.  I find that it is much easier to accept responsibility for whatever decision you make, good or bad, learn from it and move on.”

In giving advice to current CSL students, Banks says, “If it is professional sports, college athletics, or high school, learn as much as you can about the industry, network with others, and follow up.”

One of the most valuable lessons Banks took away from his time in the Center for Sport Leadership after graduating is the importance of networking. “The relationships that were developed with some of my class members who are now leaders in the college athletics industry would not be possible without the relationships built by going through the program.”

January 28, 2014

Alum Joins CSL Staff

We are proud to announce Maggie McFadden (’12) has been hired as Academic Coordinator for the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU.  photo 1 (4)

Among her new responsibilities, Maggie will serve as first point of contact for graduate students to the Center, serve as contact for course schedule changes, provide enrollment services support to all CSL students, serve as the point of contact for registering for classes and assure that every student is registered for classes.  Maggie will also oversee the comprehensive exam process once per semester, for both on campus and online students.

Maggie come to the CSL after spending almost two years as the Director of Fufillment for VCU Athletics, working with their corporate sales team.  Prior to that, Maggie worked with the Richmond Flying Squirrles, the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.

A native of Richmond, Maggie received her undergraduate degree from James Madison University, where she was a varsity soccer player.
The CSL is fortunate to have such an extremely talented person joins our staff.  Maggie’s enthusiasm, creativity and genuine desire to help others will be a valuable asset as the CSL continues its mission to prepare the next generation of leaders in sport.

January 27, 2014

Our “Super Bowl”

photo 2

CSL students and faculty hit the lane at Uptown Alley Friday night for the CSL Bowling Showdown. Originally scheduled for the Fall, the event was postponed when VCU men’s soccer hosted a first round game in the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament and several of our students were part of the event staff.  We’re glad we re-scheduled.

photo 4 (1)

Tyler Schatz (Team Global-Minded) showing off his form.

The “Showdown” consisted of five teams of four: one faculty member & three students. The teams were named after the CSL’s five core values: accountable, authentic, collaborative, empowering and global-minded.

Every team bowled two games, combining the total score of every player from each game. Team Authentic (Greenhalgh, Bonds,Hodgins & Baxter) won the competition, edging Team Empowering by 12 pins.
Graduate student Jason Schilling and Dr Dwyer tied for highest score with a 154.
The best part of the night was spending some time together, away from campus.
Judging by the positive feedback from the participants, the Bowling Showdown looks to continue as another way to bring the CSL family together.

photo 2 (1)

Half of the winning team: Karise Baxter & Traci Bonds from Team Authentic


photo 5

Dr LeCrom doing some soon-to-be published research on the effect of body language on a rolling bowling ball.


photo 4 (2)

Kone Gyamfi, Jason Schilling from Team Global-Minded and Joey Burns from Team Accountable

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Kelsey Crawford (Team Accountable) representing the great state of Oregon

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Kelsey Quinn (Team Collaborative) & Brandon Hodgins (Team Authentic) ready to “roll”