A Look into the Life of new AD Scott Sidwell

“If you want to go learn what sports is about, go be a mascot,” said USF’s new Athletic Director Scott Sidwell in a halfway joking tone. I sat down with Mr. Sidwell to get an idea of where he came from and what he wants to do to help the Dons. Get excited USF; because Scott Sidwell knows just about everything to do with sports short of being a professional athlete himself, and has big plans for USF Athletics.
Growing up with a college and professional football coach for a Dad, Sidwell has seen every angle of the sports world. He has been immersed in sports culture since birth: played and coached baseball at Tulane University, worked in Marketing Operations with the New Orleans Saints, directed Group Sales for the New Orleans Zephyrs and acted as the executive senior associate Athletic Director at Syracuse University.
After college Sidwell got his first job as a coach for the Tulane University Green Wave, which he recognized as being a great experience because it allowed him to see sports from a different angle. “I got a hands on approach and saw exactly what coaches need to succeed,” said Sidwell. Next, the motivated Sidwell went on to intern for the New Orleans minor league baseball team, the Zephyrs. He worked his way up the ladder from pouring cokes and tearing tickets to become the Director of Group Sales, where he learned the game operations process and how to brand a sports team.
A short year and a half later Sidwell got a phone call from the New Orleans Saints, which he called “a dream come true.” He was asked to be the Marketing Operations Director where his duties included everything from corporate sales to setting up training camp to fundraising. Reflecting on his time working for the Saints, Sidwell remembered, “on game days I was the guy everybody came to if you wanted to get something done at the Superdome.” This experience proved invaluable to Sidwell’s career in athletics.
Even after an amazing foray into professional sports, when Sidwell got a call from his Alma Mater about coming back to work, he felt it was the right choice. Moving back to Tulane, this time as the Associate Athletic Director for Corporate Development, he oversaw all external areas of the department. This included the Tulane Athletics Fund, the ticket office, marketing and media relations. He also worked as the supervisor of men’s golf, track and field and cross-country.
While working for Tulane during the summer of 2005 disaster struck in the form of Hurricane Katrina. Scrambling, Tulane sent its teams all over Louisiana in an effort to save their program. Sidwell went with the football and women’s track teams to Louisiana State and took up a temporary residence in Ruston, Louisiana. This was an eye opening trial for Sidwell, something he says he will never forget. It gave him a sense of perspective that many athletic directors will never experience.
With Hurricane Katrina leaving disaster in its wake, Scott Sidwell would pick up and move once again in December of 2005. This time he would find himself in Syracuse, New York at Syracuse University as the executive senior associate Athletic Director. This meant that he was in charge of all the revenue raised for Syracuse Athletics. During his tenure with the Orange, Sidwell helped raise upwards of 100 million dollars, much of which went toward building their state of the art gym, The Carmelo Anthony Center.
After hearing about Mr. Sidwell’s incredible history in professional and collegiate athletics I was curious about what his plans were for the Dons. When asked what his goals where for USF he responded with gusto. “USF is a big time athletic department and we as a department have made the goal of having at least 8 teams participate in the NCAA tournament this year.” I went on to ask how he was going to make this come about and Sidwell described his approach through the following Four Pillars.
1) Excel in class
2) Win at the highest level
3) Engage the community
4) Become leaders in the world
For Sidwell student athletes are just that, first students and then athletes. He emphasized the fact that as of now the average GPA of all USF student athletes is a 3.19. His goal is to raise that to 3.3 by the end of this year and get it to 3.5 in the years to come.
Secondly, Sidwell wants USF to win the Commissioners Cup, which is the conference wide tournament that includes every team in the WCC. For each Conference title won, schools are rewarded 9 points, for each second place finish 8 points, each third place 7 points etc. Last year USF placed 2nd in the Commissioners Cup, leading the pack in men’s sports but finishing last place in the women’s category. He went on to emphasize USF’s incredible sports history, which he hopes to use as a huge motivating force for student athletes.
To elaborate on his 3rd pillar, Sidwell stressed that many people in our San Francisco community need help in various ways. Simply put, he feels that it is our duty as a Jesuit institution to aid those that are less fortunate. Additionally, engaging the community means that he wants to make USF’s presence widely felt around campus. This means getting people that live around USF to come out and support the Dons.
This leads to the 4th pillar, becoming leaders in the world. Sidwell wants all USF student athletes to graduate with the skills they need to succeed after college no matter what career path they choose. He stressed that the capacity to set goals and achieve them is something that he hopes all students learn at USF.
With such a clear set of goals for USF student athletes I was curious to hear what goals the new AD had for the athletic staff. His number one objective was “Market, Market, Market.” He described the thousands of alumni living in the Bay Area as an “untapped resource” that can help boost this athletic department to the likes of Cal and Stanford. He underlined that USF needs to stand up to these Bay Area rivals and “celebrate of who you” are as a program.
Lastly, I asked Mr. Sidwell, “Do you have anything in particular that you would like the USF student body to know?” He responded by saying, “ The USF student body must know their role. They have to BE the home court advantage and be engaged in their school’s student athlete community.”
To wrap up the interview the Louisiana native said he had never before spent much time on the west coast. When asked what his favorite part about San Francisco was so far, Sidwell pointed out “ I like the blend of different cultures in San Francisco, it is very unique.”

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