LBSU Athletic Director Introduces New Initiatives

By: 
Patrick Ong

Long Beach State Athletics have had a lot to celebrate in the past few years. The Dirtbags have churned out the most Major League players since 2010 and recently triumphed in back-to-back championships for both NCAA Men’s Volleyball and Big West Women’s Golf. The overall department has built revered programs over the years; however, Athletic Director Andy Fee sees room for improvement and envisions new goals for the department and the community.

“Wherever that we may be, we want to be at the highest point of excellence that we can be,” said Fee.

Fee was born in Laguna Niguel, an hour southeast of Long Beach. He was a student employee at Arizona State University before working full time there as an assistant director. Bouncing around Southern California, Fee worked at University of San Diego and UC Santa Barbara before accepting the athletic director job at Long Beach State April 2017.

Fee spoke Nov. 6 at the Queen Mary for Long Beach Rotary’s weekly meeting. In addition to recounting his path to Long Beach State, he discussed some of the lesser-known achievements of our esteemed student athletes – namely academics, volunteer work and leadership development.

All collegiate athletic departments have to abide by NCAA’s minimum Academic Progress Rate (APR) requirements. It is a measurement that records academic eligibility by sports department and averages them out to a score out of 1000 with a minimum score of 930. Long Beach State athletes, who have a graduation rate of 89 percent, is the only university in the CSU system that has passed that standard in the 14 years since the metric has been in place.

As for leadership development, the athletic department holds a program called The Academy, which only takes 20 applicants across the 19 sports departments. With the help of community members and donors, the program teaches the athletes professional skills and concludes with a service project abroad, usually in a rural community. Program participants partner with a nonprofit called Courts for Kids, where they build a multipurpose recreation court that can be used by the community.

Fee also recalled some of the volunteer programs that the student athletes such as participating in beach cleanups or reading to kindergarten students in lower-income schools.

“Our family is bigger than our department. It is bigger than just our campus. It includes our entire community,” said Fee.

Fee stated some of the goals that he has for the future: improving the Beach Athletic Fund – which allows for more scholarships for student athletes, renovating Blair Field and possibly opening an e-sports team.

A Rotary member inquired about the recent Fair Pay to Play Act passed in California, which allows student athletes to hire agents and sign endorsements. Fee stated that he has long been outspoken on the topic. He stated that the bill may interfere with other opportunities, namely for foreign student athletes.

Foreign student athletes are allowed to study and participate in sports in the United States by the way of an F-1 student visa. Visas have certain requirements – one of which restricts the working opportunities of foreign students. Students with an F-1 visa are not allowed to work off-campus their first academic year and afterwards, must be related to their area of study. It does not authorize international students to enter endorsement agreements and would be a serious violation and could result in possible deportation. Fee also stated that there might be complications with students signing certain deals, such as with casinos.

patrick@beachcomber.news

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