New Campbell AD plans to strengthen the Camel community
Before interviewing for the job as athletic director for Campbell, Omar Banks wanted to speak to his soon-to-be predecessor and find it out for himself: Is this job really as good as it seems?
Campbell’s teams were competitive across the board. Campus facilities were fairly new. The community surrounding the school appeared supportive and energetic.
From all indications, there weren’t any blatant causes for concern.
As enticing as that was, Banks still wanted to hear it from former Campbell athletic director, Bob Roller.
“I wanted to really understand and pick his brain to see what’s really going on,” Banks said after a press conference on Tuesday morning. “And he kind of confirmed everything.”
A lot of Campbell’s reason for recent success stems from Roller, who stepped down as athletic director in December 2018. In Roller’s tenure, Campbell won 15 conference titles and had its football program promoted to scholarship FCS status. Roller also oversaw several facility renovations, which included the expansion of the football and baseball stadiums.
This past season, Campbell won the 2018-19 Big South Sasser Cup Trophy, an award given to the best overall athletics program in the conference.
“Campbell is not broken,” Banks said. “It’s a great place. And I know people that have taken AD jobs where they had to go in and fix things before they could actually focus on growing it. I don’t think there’s anything broken. Again, from the outside looking in, this is perfect.”
Banks had served as chief financial officer at Virginia Tech since 2013. Per a press release, Banks saw an $11 million increase in total revenue. Before that, he worked at the Cincinnati, where he also supervised the budget.
“(Campbell has) a lot of the qualities that I can enhance,” Banks said. “That’s one of the things that attracted me to this opportunity. And so, really getting in and understanding all of the facets of the department of the university — those are the things I want to do. Build that mission statement, understand the trajectory that our coaches want us on, and just move us forward.”
For the school’s coaches, an ideal future for Campbell involves building program exposure.
“He’s going to bring that next step to where we need to go athletically, and that’s taking (Campbell) to a national brand, as opposed to just being a local brand,” said Mike Minter, Campbell’s head football coach. “The thing is, with momentum, the leader has got to let it keep going, and he’s the type of guy that can build upon what we’ve done.”
Campbell’s head baseball coach, Justin Haire, agreed with Minter.
“We want to continue to build and continue to have historic runs,” Haire said, referencing the baseball team’s success in the NCAA tournament this year. “We want every year to be historic, not just from the baseball side, but from the athletic department side, where we can continue to build on this success we’ve had.”
An internal search committee — composed of members of the school’s board of trustees, athletes, head coaches and administrators — invited three finalists to campus to meet with coaches and interview with school president Brad Creed.
“I’ve been hiring people for 30 years,” Creed said. “There was an engagement with him that I was really able to connect with. He has a strategic mind. He has a big heart for students. He embodied our mission.
“And I sense that he’s the kind of guy that knows how to get things done.”
After Tuesday’s press conference had ended, Banks shook hands with several members of the crowd who wanted to meet him — the same crowd that gave him a standing ovation when he was introduced a half-hour earlier.
When the crowd finally thinned out to where he had an uninterrupted moment, Banks asked his son to take a picture of him with his parents in front of the orange backdrop with Campbell signage.
It was as if he wanted to keep this moment forever, the moment when the job really was as good as it seemed.