When Belmont University’s former athletic director Mike Strickland announced his retirement in March, Dr. Susan West, vice president and chief of staff, began a national search to replace him.
She found the man for the job close to home – FirstBank Vice President Scott Corley. And by accepting the job, Corley began his transition from proud Belmont alumni to a leader at the institution.
A day before classes started, Corley shared what he’s been up to this summer, why he returned to Belmont and and what it’s like being the boss of his old coach.
Belmont Vision: Tell me about your first day on the job, it was July 1, right?
Scott Corley: In theory, it was June 13. I did want to get here while Mike was still here. A lot of what I’ve been doing was meeting with all the staff and coaches and getting to know them and their responsibilities better. It was meetings after meetings after meetings, but it was all good. I was just trying to get to know them better and for them to get to know me better.
BV: But you’d been around the school for years, so you’re not a new face.
SC: Right. That’s certainly been a blessing. I know a lot of the people, I know where things are around here, I know my way around campus. So that made it an easier transition than someone from out of town. But you know, I knew them as friends, and now it’s a work relationship, so there’s still a lot to learn.
BV: As far as those relationships go, you’re a grad and a Belmont dad, and now you’re the athletic director, too. How do all of those roles influence your day-to-day?
SC: I think the way it influences my day-to-day is that is re-emphasizes my love and passion that I have for Belmont, because this is a place that’s so special to me and my family. Having been an athlete here, having been on the alumni board, coming to all the games and now having a daughter here – all of those things hopefully just continue to show how much I care about and love this place.
BV: For a freshman reading this, what makes Belmont so special?
SC: First and foremost, it’s the people. From the athletic perspective, we’re blessed with so many great coaches that not only know what it takes to be successful on the field but who really do care about the student athletes off the field. The same goes for the staff. They’re so passionate about this place. Look at the longevity of the staff. It tells you it’s a special place to be a part of. With the freshman coming in, Belmont’s got so much positive momentum going for it.
BV: So I know some might see this as a transition from banking to the world of college athletics, but you’ve always stayed close to the school. Do you see this as coming home?
SC: Certainly. I pinch myself in a lot of ways to come back to a place that meant so much to me and that helped build me into the person that I am today. I was blessed to have a 25-year career in banking, all in Nashville, which allowed me to stay involved with Belmont and the community and to grow professionally. I was able to get to know a lot of companies around town, and ,for me, it was a true blessing when the opportunity presented itself to hopefully use the skills I’ve gained in banking at a place I’m so passionate about.
BV: How different is this job from your job in finance?
SC: It’s very different in the fact that there are so many different constituencies for me to have to interact with and worry about. But in a lot of ways, it’s very similar. You’ve got to be able to multitask, you’ve got to be able to lead and attain goals and make things happen. It’s a lot about dealing with people, and that’s banking as well.
BV: You played basketball under Coach Byrd. What’s harder: a Byrd practice or running the department?
SC: Good question. I’d say probably running the whole thing. Coach had some tough practices, but back then it didn’t bother me to have to run as much as we did. That really is such a unique angle to this whole experience. To know that I was his first recruit and now to get to come back here and be his boss is a very unique thing. But he’s made it very easy, and he’s so great about how he handles everything. I’m excited about getting to work with him on a day-to-day basis and really get to know him even better.
This article was written by Jessica King. Photo courtesy of Belmont University Athletics.