By Nigel Broadnax and Devon Hall
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY—Since March 31, the Lincoln University Athletic Department has been under the leadership of Darryl A. Pope. Pope was hired as athletic director in late February, after the position was vacant for about three months following the departure of Dianthia Ford-Kee.
In his short time at the university, he has noticed the high support of the athletic program from people who care.
“My impression of the school is that the alumni and the students who attend here love this place like they love their home,” says Pope of his early observations in his new environment. “(Alumni asked) ‘Alright, what are we going to do next? How are we going to make this program better? How are we going to make the school better?’ [I stated,] Immediately. As soon as I got here.”
Pope recognizes that the people’s invested interest is good start to building up the department. However, he feels that are things within Lincoln Athletics that need some work before it can truly flourish.
“The potential’s here…the foundation is not there yet,” Pope said of the current state of the program. “There are a couple things we need to do in terms of infrastructure, meaning the facilities, and once those get going, I think we can start working on trying to do a better job of recruiting.”
Pope’s sole mission is to focus on expanding the promotion of the school’s sports teams. Publicity is an important element to his vision.
“Promote and market the program,” Pope said of his initial plan. “[The community in the area] doesn’t participate, and I think that’s important. If you want to grow your program, you [must] get the people around excited about it.”
He feels that larger promotion will help improve recruiting.
“We’re going to try to get as many of our (games) live streamed so that people who are not in the immediate area can learn about the fact that we have 13 sports and that we offer scholarships,” Pope stated of marketing. “If we get the word out, I think people will come. You’ll get more athletes and students interested in coming to the school if they know that it’s an institution that has a life.”
Pope wants to convey everything Lincoln has to offer, opposed to just the obvious.
“A lot of students when they’re looking for colleges they’re looking for more than just classes and books,” said Pope about perspective students. “And a lot of times, athletics brings you that. So if we were to get the word out that we have a life here on this campus, things happen; there’s always something to do. Then, I think, we can attract more students and improve the recruiting that we do for student athletes.”
While Pope has yet to begin any recruiting, he plans to start soon by taking trips to pitch students on enrolling at Lincoln.
“I plan to go out with the admissions recruiters to some high schools in the area and let them know that we have sports here that we offer scholarships. [We’ll visit] high schools not only in Philadelphia, but some down in Delaware and even in Maryland if possible to just let people know. We should be getting a lot more students from the region that we’re in.”
Pope concluded by stating the number one goal he plans to achieve while at Lincoln.
“The number one thing would probably be to improve the overall competiveness of the program. Whenever a team hits the field, [I want you to think] they have a chance to win. When you get to that point then you know you’ve got a good program.”