Guilford College President Jane Fernandes announced that Craig Eilbacher, an associate professor of sports studies, has taken over as the Interim Athletics Director in an email to faculty and staff on Jan. 22.
Eilbacher is taking over the position that has been vacant since the end of November when interim director of athletics Nelson Bobb stepped down due to personal reasons.
Bobb had taken over from Tom Palombo, the current men’s basketball coach, after Guilford had decided to make the athletics director a full-time staff member.
Eilbacher has been working at Guilford since 2001, and he teaches classes in the exercise and sport science major. He has also been the Faculty Athletics Representative since 2010, but will step down from that role for this semester.
He may not have experience in being an athletics director but Eilbacher is very familiar with Guilford’s athletics department.
“I’ve been working with athletics my entire career here at Guilford as an athletics trainer, someone in a major that has a lot of student-athletes,” said Eilbacher. “I’ve worked fairly closely with our coaching staff plus also being in the same building as your athletics.”
Working as a professor and athletics director is a lot of work, but luckily for Eilbacher, his teaching load is very light.
“I’m teaching one class, they took two classes off me,” said Eilbacher. “I work in a great department because if it wasn’t for my departmental colleagues, this wouldn’t be possible … our entire department is helping serve in this role because Brenda (Swearingin) is going to be the new department chair, it takes the whole department to rearrange some stuff for this to happen.”
Eilbacher began his new role in Indianapolis, representing Guilford at the 2018 National Collegiate Athletic Association Convention. At the convention, athletics directors, college presidents and chancellors and students discuss topics relating to college athletics.
“It was a great professional experience, I learned a lot, I attended a lot of workshops, a lot of talks, talked to a lot of people, got to interact with the (Old Dominion Athletic Conference) administrators in a working group,” said Eilbacher.
An important part of the convention is voting on changes in legislation for Division III. A close vote at the convention was on whether to start the football preseason 25 days before the first game day. The legislation was defeated 182-168, the only close vote of the nine legislation votes. It would get the football players in a couple days early, while also adding a day off.
“(Guilford) opposed it,” said Eilbacher. “It’s not that it’s really impacting us financially, we’re looking at one day earlier for our folks, we’re not like some of the other schools as far as four days early … we still have to think financially, but then again injury wise, I’d like to see what the injury data is going to be.”
Many people at the event, including Eilbacher, were frustrated that they are changing legislation that they just changed last year and do not have enough information about the effects of the change.
The main reason for this change is to get players in to preseason early in hopes that there would be less injuries and give players a day off.
“If we are making this change based on the injury, then we’re not there yet. One year is not enough data to really (tell) whether it’s going to make enough change,” said Eilbacher.
A big focus of the next semester for the athletics department is conducting a national search, for a new athletics director. When Bobb was hired last fall, Fernandes said that he would lead the national search but it seems that they did not get very far into the process as the job has not even been posted. Guilford will also conduct the search themselves and not hiring an outside firm to do the search.
“We want somebody energetic, we want somebody to come in and move Guilford forward from a position where have a coach-athletic director to a full-time athletic director and it’s a different model,” said Eilbacher.
With Eilbacher only staying until the end of this spring semester, there is going to be a new athletic director soon to help create a vision for the future of athletics at Guilford.