Bernard Muir holds court on varsity sports at Faculty Senate meeting

The senate yesterday heard presentations from Bernard Muir, director of athletics, and Tom Wasow, linguistics professor and chair of the Committee on Committees.

L.A. Cicero Bernard Muir

At Thursday's Faculty Senate meeting, Bernard Muir, who was named Stanford's director of athletics last summer, gave an overview of what it's like to be a scholar-athlete on the Farm.

In introducing himself yesterday to the Faculty Senate, Bernard Muir said he had wanted to be an athletic director from the time he was in high school.

"I grew up in Gainesville, Florida, and the University of Florida was a stone's throw from my home," Muir said during his first appearance before the senate.

"I never had aspirations of playing professionally. I played basketball as a high school student-athlete. My mom always said to me: Bernard, if you have the opportunity to use basketball to get you wherever you want to go, by all means use it. So I had the opportunity to get recruited by Brown University. I ended up playing basketball at Brown. What I did know was that I wanted to stay in the game – somehow, some way. I thought it would be great if I could work behind the scenes."

Muir, whose first behind-the-scenes job was selling orange juice during University of Florida football games as a youngster, was named the Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics at Stanford last July.

Before arriving at Stanford, he was the director of athletics and recreation services at the University of Delaware, a post he held from 2009 to 2012. All told, he brings nearly 25 years of athletic administrative experience to the Farm.

"I've been on the job about six months, and I feel like some of our freshman student-athletes, and I'm not sure exactly where to turn," Muir told the senate at its second meeting of winter quarter. "But I am excited about working here and hopefully getting to that sophomore year as quickly as possible."

Muir succeeded Bob Bowlsby, who left Stanford to become a commissioner of the Big 12 Conference after serving as Stanford's athletic director for six years.

"The NCAA uses the term 'student-athlete,' but here at Stanford it's really about the 'scholar-athlete,'" Muir told the senate.

Muir showed a stirring video – created by three former Stanford athletes – that he said captured the scholar-athlete experience at Stanford. He said the Athletics Department shows the video to freshman athletes during orientation. Many of them have forwarded it to their parents, he said.

Muir said Stanford has 850 scholar-athletes who compete on 35 varsity teams, including 19 women's teams and 16 men's teams.

He said Stanford awarded 335 athletic scholarships to approximately 550 of those scholar-athletes.

One statistic Muir included in his slide presentation showed that 11 athletes at Stanford have received Rhodes Scholarships to study at the University of Oxford.

Last year, two Stanford students were named 2013 Rhodes Scholars: Rachel Kolb, co-president of Stanford's equestrian team, a club sport at Stanford, and Margaret Hayden, who was a member of Stanford's varsity squash and varsity sailing teams.

Muir said the Athletics Department would like student-athletes to be able to take full advantage of student programs at Stanford, including Sophomore College and the Bing Overseas Studies Program. But that can sometimes be difficult, he said, due to practice and competition schedules.

"We're trying to promote that as best we can," he said.

Another slide showed that in the fall quarter of 2012, 25 scholar-athletes were enrolled in co-terminal degree programs (pursuing work on a master's degree while finishing a bachelor's degree) and 11 were pursuing double majors. The average cumulative GPA for Stanford athletes was 3.286.

Muir's presentation included a slide illustrating a "day in the life" of sophomore Daphne Martschenko, a member of the Stanford women's rowing team. Her daily schedule begins at 6 a.m. with one hour of weight training. Her day includes three classes; a lunchtime meeting with the Cardinal Council, Stanford's student-athlete advisory committee; and afternoon practice sessions, as well as a dorm meeting, social time and study time.

Another slide showed a photograph of the Stanford women's soccer team holding the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup, which is awarded annually to the nation's best overall collegiate athletics program. In 2012, Stanford won the cup for the 18th consecutive year.

"Coming here, I remember getting interviewed and people saying, you know what, Bernard, winning the Directors' Cup is really no big deal," he said.

"Well, I can tell you that first staff meeting that I had with our coaches and staff, I said: Look, I know it's not a big deal. You won this cup 18 years in a row. But let me tell you, number 19 is a big deal."

Muir told the senate, to appreciative laughter, that he didn't want to lose the cup "on my watch."

"I'll be happy to say coming out of the fall standings we are ranked number one," he continued. "But it is something, as our staff knows, that I sweat about every day. So I'm thrilled we have this opportunity to go back for number 19."

Muir's presentation included a photograph of the Stanford football team, standing in a shower of red and white confetti, after winning the 2013 Rose Bowl.

He said the photo was a reminder of a remarkable year in football, and the chance it offered to bring the Stanford community together – a day when 40,000 showed up to "celebrate the best that Stanford has to offer."

Muir said football isn't the only Stanford sport that attracts crowds.

"We had a gymnastics meet last week at Burnham," he said. "It was a sold-out crowd and it was a wonderful experience. It was another chance for our community to come together and celebrate the best of Stanford."

Muir said one of the challenges facing Stanford Athletics is that costs are growing faster than revenue. He presented a slide with two pie charts: one showing that total revenues during 2011-12 were $91.4 million and another showing that total expenses in 2011-12 were $92.4 million.

Committee on Review of Undergraduate Majors

Following a presentation by Tom Wasow, a professor of linguistics and chair of the Committee on Committees, the senate approved revisions to the charge of the Committee on Review of Undergraduate Majors in a voice vote.

The revisions removed outdated language and added the deans – or their representatives – of the schools of Humanities and Sciences, Engineering, and Earth Sciences as ex officio members of the committee.

In addition, the senate approved the following clarification to the committee's role, under the "specific duties" section of the charge:

"Monitor the review processes of departmental majors through annual reports provided by the relevant deans, with particular attention to advising and curricular issues, including the effects of prerequisites and the requirements of the major itself on the overall educational experience."

The full minutes of the Feb. 7 meeting, including the question-and-answer sessions that followed the presentations, will be available on the Faculty Senate website next week. The next Faculty Senate meeting will be held Feb. 21.