Miami AD Blake James sees ACC as perfect fit
FEB 12, 2014 10:41a ET
University of Miami director of athletics Blake James celebrated his one-year anniversary as AD on Saturday. James took over on an interim basis October 2012 before being named in a permanent capacity Feb. 8, 2013.
James spoke to FOXSportsFlorida.com via phone early last week about a range of topics. In Part 1 of our interview, we touched about topics ranging from the U brand to NCAA sanctions.
In the the second part of our conversation, James discusses the Atlantic Coast Conference as well as the possibility of adding sports down the road...
FS Florida: If you could address the state of U athletics. Whether you like where it's headed. Where's it going?
JAMES: I'm thrilled with where we are as a program. When you look at where the university is at -- it's a top-50 institution in the country, it's top in the state of Florida, where we're at as a community.
When you look at Miami as a city, an international city -- I guess I'll say I have a bias from living here -- but it's just going to be one of the truly hotspots in the world going forward given the things that are going on with the Port (of Miami) and the development of South American and Central American economies and everything that you have going on.
And then you take our athletic program in a world-class city at a world-class university and we have the coaches as leaders that we do. The future's bright, and that's what has me excited. I think there's many great days ahead for our program. Obviously there's been a number of tremendous accomplishments we've had as a program in the past, and I see many more of those in the future.
And that's what really has me excited about my job is seeing what we have in place, seeing where the university has gone and really believing where we're going as a South Florida community. When you tie all those things together I think it means great days ahead for the Canes.
FSF: Everyone talks about football, but the ACC -- in my opinion -- is probably one of the best conferences overall with all sports at a competition level.
JAMES: Yeah, by far the best conference in college athletics. I think when you look from top to bottom, especially now with the addition of Notre Dame and bringing in the schools that we have. When you look academically at the institutions in the conference and where they are athletically and where we're at -- you couldn't ask for a better conference. Top to bottom it's a perfect fit for us.
When you look at the entire eastern seaboard, it's one that just makes a lot of sense for us and is competing at the highest level. That's what has us excited, I know that's what has our coaches excited and we look forward to the continuing development of the ACC.
On the football front, we're excited to continue to do what we need to do to win an ACC championship. That's something that I know is important to coach (Al) Golden, it's important to myself and to President (Donna E.) Shalala. We want to do that. As in all sports as we saw in football this year, if you win the ACC championship you're probably in a great spot to win a national championship.
If we can win ACC championships in all of our sports, I think it'll mean many more national champions coming to the University of Miami. That's what we're really looking forward to.
FSF: And I think for the first time in awhile you're seeing some continuity at the University of Miami with Golden, (Jim) Larranaga, (Katie) Meier...
JAMES: Like you said, the continuity we're having with our coaches -- not to mention the level of coaches we have -- is just such a tremendous group top to bottom. You name the sport. It has me excited. You look at the league we're in, and it's one that is just continuing to prosper. I think we'll create even more excitement in the future.
FSF: With the growth of the program and the city, would there be any plans to look into adding sports such as men's soccer? Or would the way scholarships are allotted make it tough?
JAMES: I think right now what we want to do is get the programs we have in place operating at the level that we want to operate at to compete to be the very best. When we get to that point then I think we start looking at, 'OK, now that we've accomplished that goal, what makes sense for us to add?'
There's a lot of different sports out there that get thrown around. You mentioned men's soccer, sand volleyball has been said, men's golf has been said, softball has been said. There's a lot of other opportunities out there.
I think the great thing is -- going back to what we were talking about -- any one of those sports if you bring them on, immediately they're competing in the best league in the country. Again, it's a great situation for us.
When the time comes we'll definitely look at adding sports. Right now, I think the best decision for us is to focus on the ones we have and really getting them in a position to be the very best they can be. I don't think we're there yet. Through the great support of the university and President Shalala and our fan base and those that donate and buy tickets -- we're getting there, but we're not there yet.