Hutchinson acclimating to Lincoln Memorial
After spending the better part of the past 15 years as the Director of Athletics at Division I Morehead State University, Brian Hutchinson was named the Director of Athletics at Lincoln Memorial University in mid-March.
Hutchinson is adjusting quickly to his new surroundings.
“I’ve already met with all of our head coaches,” said Hutchinson. “I’ve met with virtually all of our administrative team leads. I’ve met with a handful of folks that aren’t involved in athletics, but in administration here at the university. Within the next two weeks, I expect to have met with every staff member at least for 15-20 minutes, although these first few meetings have been tending to run longer.
“I’m just trying to listen and get a sense of our people; what they do, what they value. Everyone is jazzed-up about this place; what it is, and what it could be. There’s a general feeling around here that with the leadership we have, we can really get there. I haven’t had a negative interaction yet.”
With nearly 27 total years at Morehead State, including his time as a student, Hutchinson decided that the opportunity to serve as Lincoln Memorial’s Director of Athletics was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“It really took a special opportunity for me to decide this was the right decision to make for me, as well as my family,” said Hutchinson. “I think the trajectory that the university is on is very steeply up. There’s a ton of momentum about this place. Everyone believes the sky is the limit, and I do too.”
Prior to being named the Director of Athletics, Hutchinson already had a familiarity with LMU. When asked by Dr. James Hurley to visit the university and advise them on divisional changes, Hutchinson made his first visit to the campus.
“When I visited the campus for the very first time, it was important to the university to get the opinion of someone who was friendly, that would also tell the truth about where things were in terms of re-classifying,” said Hutchinson. “James (Dr. Hurley) knew me and asked me to come down. That’s when I first met some of the people here. Not coaches or anything like that, just people that were important to the university. That was my first interaction with the university and truthfully, I was very impressed by this place.”
Coming from a division I program in Morehead State, Hutchinson is very familiar with the inner-workings of the NCAA, even at the division II level.
“There are differences in a lot of areas,” said Hutchinson. “LMU doesn’t share all of the distinctions that make division II schools what they are; the competition piece is very, very important. It’s important for us to be successful, it’s important for us to manage our budgets, it’s important for us to provide a good student experience here whether it be on campus or through athletics or a combination of various things. Those are mainly division I ideas.
“Everyone wants to win, but the division I model is really predicated on the competition side. When you get into division II and division III, it’s a little bit geared more toward the students. We chose division II, although there have been different slogans throughout the years that the NCAA has. Those things are all really, really similar in terms of inter-divisional differences.
“In division I the scholarship models are different; the revenue models are way different. The pressures that you have managing the department are much more revenue based, at least in my experience. Rules are similar, there are certain distinctions in recruiting and how much contact you can have with a student-athlete while they’re in season, and other things like that. There are some really good work-life balance issues in division II about long breaks and holidays and things that are really important.”
Hutchinson believes that each person’s ideas and opinions are valued at LMU.
“One of the reasons I’m spending as much time as I can with our staff is because we are going to develop a plan. I don’t want it to just be my plan, but it needs to be all of our plan. I’m really listening very much to what people have to say. I don’t want to operate as if this was solely my department., this is the university’s department; how are we best serving the university and it’s students.
“By listening to the collective experience here, it helps inform me of the kinds of things we should be doing. I assigned every staff member and assignment to propose a list of ideas, and I think a few of those are going to rise to the top and I’m excited to see what we can do together. I don’t ever want to put a ceiling on anything we do.”
Hutchinson feels like LMU has multiple programs that are ready to compete at a national level.
“I believe we have a few programs, including men’s basketball, that could compete for national championships here,” said Hutchinson. “That’s a lot to say and we’ve not done that before in many of our sports, but clearly, the resources are in place, the ambition is in place, the ability to recruit people because of the kinds of things the university can offer to students is setting them up to be successful; all of that is in place.
“There are a few tweaks we need to make to continue to improve our student experience as well as an athletic experience. We should expect to compete at a high level, and our constituents should expect to support us at a high level. The most important thing is to be the best Lincoln Memorial University that we can be.”
In his time at Morehead State, the Eagles racked up 21 conference championships with nine teams making NCAA Tournament appearances. Highlights include the men’s basketball program earning NCAA Tournament victories in 2009 and 2011, women’s soccer advancing to the Big Dance three times (2008, 2010 and 2013), and women’s volleyball qualifying for postseason play in 2011 and 2013.
Women’s golf, which Hutchinson brought back to the MSU athletics department in 2007 after a 24-year hiatus for the program, made an appearance in the NCAA regional in 2011, while the baseball team played in the NCAA tourney in 2015 and 2018.