Valpo Athletic Director Mark LaBarbera

Mark LaBarbera, Athletic Director at Valparaiso University, recently announced his retirement at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. LaBarbera joined Higher Ed Athletics for a deep dive on the institutional processes and behind-the-scenes decision-making in changing their nickname from the Crusaders to the Beacons amidst controversy. After discussing the nickname the conversation turns to revisiting the two previous conference realignments Valpo went through under LaBarbera’s leadership and understanding why both made sense at the time. LaBarbera shares some historical details about the Pioneer Football League, which does not offer athletic scholarships, and explains why that model is successful and helpful for Valpo. LaBarbera ends the conversation talking about how tough the last two years has been and how he and other experienced athletic directors have to begin thinking about passing the torch and letting the next generation of athletic administrators have their turn.

0:30 Institutional Profile
2:23 Name Change Background & Process
10:00 Just “Valpo,” & No Nickname?
11:55 Procedurally Deciding On Beacons
13:54 Determining If & When to Make a Name Change
18:40 Two Themes from Survey
20:35 The Names They Did NOT Choose
22:15 Tactical Operational Advice After Name Change
29:10 Lighthouse with Legs as Next Mascot?
33:15 Revisiting Two Previous Valpo Conference Realignments
37:40 Predicting Current Conference Realignment
40:40 Pioneer Football League History Lesson
46:35 Passing the AD Torch

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