Dr. Donald Reed, a longtime senior athletic administrator at the University of Buffalo, has a huge task ahead as he assumes control as the new athletic director at Prairie View A&M University this summer.
He takes over on The Hill during a challenging time for college athletics in general and particularly at the Black college level where the challenges always seem to be bigger. Reed, 55, comes in at time where college athletics are unsure how to proceed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and unprecedented social unrest that have at times put student athletes smack in the middle.
That comes on top of the normal pressures of the job such as fundraising, fielding competitive teams in the SWAC and improving academics. The Panthers football program last month was banned from the postseason in 2020 for perpetually falling below the NCAA minimum Academic Progress Rate (APR) and the women’s basketball program was put on notice for not meeting the minimum standard.
The good news is the Port Arthur native comes to PVAMU with a strong background in APR and Federal Graduate Rate guidelines while serving as a senior associate athletic director at Buffalo since 2010.
Reed discussed his vision for PVAMU and why this was the right job for him with The Defender recently and here is what he had to say.
Defender: What is about this role with Prairie View that excited you?
Reed: “The first thing was the history of the University and it’s really timely right now that we just had Juneteenth and the significance of Juneteenth and the history of the University, they are tied. That history and tradition, my father’s mother graduated from Prairie View A&M in the 1930s. She would speak fondly about the University. I remember her talking about it. She ended up being an elementary school teacher.
“I’ve had other relatives attend the school as well so I have some familiarity. I met with the president and administrators and coaches during my visit. And it felt wonderful. We are in alignment with what we want to do as far as vision and the mission of the University and how athletics can continue to sustain excellence through academic achievement, personal and social development and competitive excellence. That’s what we want to continue to do and sustain the tradition that has been established on The Hill.”
Defender: How has your time at the University of Buffalo prepared you to take on the AD role at Prairie View?
Reed: “It goes back to when I arrived here with [former Buffalo athletic director and current AD at Michigan] Warde Manuel. He really mentored me and groomed me to take this opportunity and to be able to be very successful and prepared for it. I was exposed to every aspect of the operation here at Buffalo from preparing and developing budgets to developing the external structure in which to raise and generate revenue.”
Defender: What is your plan to improve the APR standings of both the football program and women’s basketball program?
Reed: “It’s imperative that we get this right and get it on the right trajectory in order to not to have to go back to where we are now. Ultimately it goes back to my original statement about sustaining but before you can sustain you have to establish. You want to establish a strong academic development, academic program that will allow us to sustain an excellent level, not just a level to be eligible. We want to be one of the programs that are recognized for their academic achievement.”
Defender: How do you see the best plan of action going forward with fall sports, football in particular, with all of this uncertainty due to COVID-19?
Reed: “It goes back to assessing the situation of making sure that you evaluate the potential options that you have in consultation, of course, with the university, the president and what we would like to do and what we would like to see happen and also consult with the conference to see where our conference peers are as well as the conference office and begin to develop a plan of how to move forward.”
Defender: What are your thoughts on how voluntary workouts this summer should proceed in the wake of the coronavirus with student athletes at several schools already testing positive for COVID-19?
Reed: “If the decision is to move forward then what we will do is proceed with caution and be vigilant in testing and continue to have testing protocols and all of the safe guards as far as the standard operation procedures that they have in place by the CDC and how to make sure you have a safe environment for those that are involved whether it’s student athletes, coaches, students on campus and administration. It’s very important to coordinate all of these things to protect all of us because the first thing we want to do is provide a safe environment for everyone to be able to learn and grow and to participate in those activities. That’s what we have been discussing in my previous role and we will have that discussion as soon as I get down there.”
Defender: How hard is it to figure out a plan of action given the uncertainty and unknowns of this pandemic?
Reed: “I would say making sure your plan is nimble enough to make the adjustment accordingly, whether it’s, for example, providing a virtual education around workouts versus being in person. Starting with a progressive approach, bringing in a group of 10 and then a couple of days later bringing in a group of 10 or 15 and incrementally grow the group to see if things are going well to setting dates as to when things can get going. I’m really anxious and excited to get down there to start working on all of these things so that we can put ourselves in the best position to act and move forward.”
Defender: What is it you would like to say to the PV fans?
Reed: “I’m honored, privileged and blessed to be the director of athletics at Prairie View A&M University. I want us to be proud of what we accomplish with the athletics program, athletically, academically and socially. I want us to be proud of the results that you see from us and really support the efforts and the work that our student athletes and coaches and staff and administration put forth for us to continue to sustain the excellence that we all want to sustain.”