Brian Mann shares vision for William & Mary Athletics

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WILLIAMSBURG (W&M Athletics) – Following a 3,000-mile solo drive across the country in a moving truck, Brian Mann officially began his job as William & Mary’s athletics director Monday morning.

Day one began with meetings in Kaplan Arena and the football team’s media day at Zable Stadium, where Mann somehow was able to keep his suit jacket on in 80-plus degree heat. He spent time in the office going over the budget and catching up on emails. He walked Kaplan’s halls chatted with whoever he saw.

All in all, a productive first day.

“When I was over at the Jimmye Laycock Football Center, I was able to spend time seeing our student athletes, who were getting treatment,” Mann said. “Volleyball’s back, and our women’s soccer coach (Julie Shackford) dialed in to the head coaches’ meeting from the field going through workouts.

“Even though we’re not quite into the competition season, athletics is alive and well at William & Mary. It was a fun first day in that regard.”

First on Mann’s agenda was the senior leadership team’s weekly meeting at 8:30 a.m. Next came the head coaches’ weekly meeting. In each, Mann had the opportunity to stress his interest in listening and learning for “the next 30, 60, 90 days”.   

At the football media day, he chatted with head coach Mike London and the players. He also did interviews, both for print and TV. Then came time in Kaplan, both in his office and the hallways.

“I was able to walk around and see some coaches in their office and say hello,” Mann said. “I spent a little time with Mike London when I was over that way in his office, talking about what’s going on in his program right now. 

“I met with some volunteers who support the athletics department with their time as well as gifts they make in support of our student athletes. Then I went over the budget. I spent some good time there and I’ll need to spend some more time to get to know the budget a little better.”

If you think it isn’t easy to relocate from Berkeley, Calif., to Williamsburg, Mann can provide confirmation. Because of labor shortages, no moving company could get him on their schedule until the middle of September. 

So Mann rented a truck and drove his family’s belongings across the country — 600 miles a day for five days. He arrived on Saturday, July 31. 

“It was sort of a cool adventure,” Mann said. “I didn’t mind all that much other than I was away from my family. My wife (Hilary) and son (4-month-old Russell) flew in on Sunday. We closed on the house on Monday.”

Although he didn’t officially start as AD until Monday, August 9th, Mann had been easing into the job the past month as special assistant to the president for athletics. 

“It was an opportunity for me to start getting to know the coaching staff and student athletes in our department — of course, virtually,” he said. “It was a chance for me to sit in a lot of meetings and to speak with some of our most generous supporters to find out their perspective on things.

“And I was able to get up to speed on some of the challenges we’re facing here. It was really an opportunity for distant learning before I hit the ground running today.”

One of Mann’s first orders of business will be getting on the road to meet with donors, alumni and season ticket holders and share the vision behind the $55 million All In campaign. Like the vast majority of athletic departments nationally, William & Mary enters the year looking to continue to build community and support after a year-plus of unique challenges.

“We need their help if we’re going to address the challenges we have,” Mann said. “If those folks do respond, which they have already, I think we’re going to be able to take this place to a new level. 

“The advantage we have in fundraising is that we’re asking people to support some of the most incredible people in the country. That’s what this comes down to.”

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