In the quiet of a cool February afternoon, Kevin Dustin sat at his desk calculating, recalculating, and recalculating. Tirelessly reviewing budget reports, he stopped only because he was finished.
For the 55-year-old Dustin, his playing days are only just getting started.
When longtime Salt Lake Community College athletic director Norma Carr retired last spring, the search for her replacement followed in short order. Among many candidates was Dustin, a Utah State University alum who once served as an associate athletic director at his alma mater, who to his own surprise was chosen to succeed Carr.
“It’s very attractive and a great place to work,” Dustin says. “So like everybody else, I put my name in a hat, went through the interviewing process, and was fortunate enough to get the position.”
In his first year on the job, Dustin faces the daunting task of energizing a student body short on awareness. But while managing his own backyard may be the foremost priority, Dustin’s desired outreach won’t stop at the borders of SLCC.
Despite a competitive local sports market that includes the Utah Jazz, University of Utah, BYU and others, increasing relevance within the wider marketplace remains a goal for Dustin.
“We’d love to be more visible in the community,” Dustin says. “We’d love more people to come to our games and realize what’s happening here. I think the rest of the valley would be shocked if they knew we had a top 10 women’s basketball team here.”
The women’s basketball team currently ranks sixth in the NJCAA Top 25 National Poll; Salt Lake also leads the Scenic West Athletic Conference with an 11-1 conference record. In addition, the Bruins are in the midst of an 11-game winning streak.
And yet, even with the recent success of the women’s basketball team, some in the athletic department feel that the squad isn’t receiving the acclaim they deserve.
Newly-hired sports information director Rachel Rowan was outspoken about her mission to create greater student pride and attendance, she views SLCC Athletics as something of a hidden gem.
“Ultimately, what I want is for people to realize that not only do you have athletics here, but you have really good athletics here,” Rowan says. “The majority of our sports are within the top 25 of the nation and a lot of people don’t realize that. I want to get us more visual; I want more students at the games.”
As it is, the efforts of any athletic department, at any level, come back to generating revenue—the lifeblood of collegiate sports. Save for a few outliers, the backbone of a sports program is only as strong as it’s resources.
In this way, “growing the brand” becomes a relative priority everywhere.
“We’d like to see increased external revenue because the costs of doing business are going up,” Dustin says. “The external revenue, and increasing that, is a priority.”