The Concordia Stingers made their biggest move towards a new beginning today in announcing Patrick Boivin as their new Director of Recreation and Athletics. The move was necessary after Katie Sheahan announced her retirement this Spring.
The Stingers promised a professional sports background, and Boivin delivers that. The son of former Montreal Canadiens president Pierre Boivin, Patrick is the Habs' former director of hockey operations and also worked in marketing for both the team and the league.
That background in marketing is significant for Concordia. They have dropped behind the University of Montreal and English-rival McGill in most university sports in the CIS, and need to play catch up. They have opened a new sports centre which is a huge improvement over their previous digs, and a renovation project to the Ed Meagher arena is also part of that. They need all the help they can get to recruit not only top athletes but sponsors and fans in the Montreal area as well.
Concordia's athletics department has some strongholds — the men's basketball team and their women's rugby teams have been consistently competitive with some notable recent performances from the women's basketball team as well. They made their return to the National Top 10 this past season. Football and hockey — usually the two most popular sports in CIS — have been somewhat disappointing recently, especially the football team given the talent it has been churning out to the professional ranks.
One thing that I would expect to see from Boivin right away is an emphasis on the marketing aspects of the sports teams at the university. That is something that he can change right away as the fall seasons are just around the corner. But, something to look at long-term is how focused Boivin is on results. From when I started at Concordia in 2004 until now, there has been one sport that has changed coaches: men's soccer (twice). The rugby teams also had a little switch as well. With other teams having struggled, and no changes made, it will be interesting to see how long of a leash Boivin has.
I'm not looking to get anyone fired, but the fact remains that at some point results on the field need to matter. It was one thing when Concordia was behind the French language universities. It is quite another when they start to fall as far as they have behind McGill, who have won hockey championships and had a better football team than Concordia last year.