Hauser aims high for HPU
Even if the remarks were primarily to fire up the High Point University faithful, Dan Hauser set the bar high on Wednesday.
“We’re going to hoist trophies and hang banners,” Hauser said after he was formally introduced as the Panthers’ new athletics director by HPU president Nido Qubein in a ceremony attended by Hauser’s family, Panther club members, school vice presidents, coaches and athletes.
Hauser officially takes over on July 1. He spent the last eight years at Ohio University as Senior Associate Athletic Director, overseeing ticket sales, marketing, concession contracts, sponsorships, naming rights, the school’s radio network and administrating six minor sports. Before that, the Appalachian State graduate directed marketing and ticket sales at Wake Forest University for seven years while working beside outgoing HPU AD Craig Keilitz.
Qubein said 143 people inquired about the position and some current HPU staffers were considered. Qubein said Hauser moved to the top of the list after getting a strong recommendation from Wake AD Ron Wellman,
“High Point is a very progressive university,” Qubein said. “We have a strategic plan for the future that is demanding insightful thinking and filled with dreams. We were looking for an athletic director who can be tenacious, who can capture the culture of this institution, who understands that athletics are second to academics and who is committed to continuing the journey of extraordinary choices of our athletes and how that relates to all of the university.”
Hauser’s accomplishments include setting ticket sales and revenue records in football and basketball at Ohio and Wake, plus a Mid-America Conference record for merchandise royalties. His marketing efforts helped Ohio lead the MAC in football, volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s soccer, field hockey and softball attendance last year.
“We wanted an athletic director who had a strong background in marketing, who understands the ins and outs of NCAA regulations and protocol, and who also came from an institution that has done some good things,” Qubein said. “Dan seemed to be a perfect fit, having a good balance of all those points.”
Hauser has been heavily involved in football throughout his career. He said the positives of becoming AD at High Point — taking over a program that improved in terms of coaches, facilities and results under Keilitz plus the school’s culture — outweighed the school not having football.
“It wasn’t difficult at all because of the opportunity here and where HPU athletics can go in the future mirrors exactly what we were able to accomplish at Ohio in the eight years I was there,” Hauser said. “We started with a program that hadn’t gone to a bowl game in 38 years and we went five straight years. We had success in other sports. To me, the opportunity to build 16 athletic programs and take them to the national level, that is what excites me. To me it is about the student-athlete experience and winning championships, and that’s far more important than if we have football.”
He hedged when asked if football could be in HPU’s future.
“That’s a complex question and I don’t have those answers right now,” Hauser said. “I know it’s a hot question for this area and university and it’s a question people want answered. But, it would wrong to come and state something when I really don’t know the facts of whether we can support it.
“I do know we want to be successful at the highest level in anything we offer as a sport. If we can’t be successful in football or can’t put together a plan that makes us successful, there’s no reason to invite student-athletes to this campus if they can’t be champions.”
Qubein said HPU may add football one day but that’s far down the road. Hauser has more immediate tasks on his plate, one of the biggest the building of a basketball arena to replace the small Millis Center. And, Qubein didn’t rule out the addition of other sports.
“He’ll have two or three major initiatives,” Qubein explained. “One will be to strengthen and propel forward the current programs. Another will be to expand athletics in responsible and meaningful ways, just like we added lacrosse, what can we add that would meet the needs of our students that would be congruent with our student’s backgrounds. And, thirdly, to maintain the facilities we have and expand facilities in fiscally meaningful ways. One of them would be the basketball arena. But when we do that basketball arena, it will not be a little place, but probably a $50 million addition to the university.”
In the short term, Hauser’s priorities will be getting to know his staff and members of the community.
“The most important thing for us moving forward is support from the community,” Hauser said. “I think we’ve got to engage High Point University with the High Point community and work in the Triad to build our fan base and build the support, build the Panther club members so we have an army and nation of Panther fans to help us achieve success.
“This athletic department is heading in the right direction and it is working. There is no need to do multiple changes or lots of changes. It is a matter of building upon the success we’ve created. And that’s exciting because we don’t have to rework. We don’t have to start everything over. This athletic department just needs continued strategic initiatives and continued planning and continued passion, energy and effort to move the athletic department forward.”