WINONA LAKE – “We have the best in the business right on our campus!”
That statement was made by Clint Johnson shortly after Grace College’s Chad Briscoe was announced as the 2016-17 Crossroads League Athletic Director of the Year. A tweet regarding the same announcement noted Briscoe could ‘likely be named that every year’ without a vote. Earlier in the year, Briscoe was given a national Meritorious Service Award and oversaw his sports information department earning one of the top website honors in the country.
Think one of the most humble and generous employees in college athletics has let the adulation set in?
“This just shows that you are doing things the right way, which has always been the most important thing for me as an athletic director,” Briscoe said, just moments after having a preseason conference with one of his fall sports coaches. “As a believer, it’s important to point to Jesus Christ and what he has done and is able to do for others. By them seeing how you are doing things, I want people to see how we are able to achieve a level of excellence through Christ. That matters to me the most.”
Briscoe won the Crossroads award for the second time, the first coming in 2010. He has served several positions within the league, including the league chair for ADs and instituted the “Champions of Character” initiative, which has become a banner mantra for the Lancer athletic programs. Among the numerous additions to the Grace athletic community is the continued partnership with the NCCAA National Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships the campus hosts, a partnership that will run through 2020.
Part of the micro-scale accomplishments Briscoe has overseen include an overall athletic GPA of 3.37, the completion of Miller Field’s track complex, to which Grace hosted its first-ever track meet last April, and 10 of its programs reaching respective national tournaments.
“We’ve been able to achieve a lot of the things we have here because we are all working together to achieve a common goal,” Briscoe said of Grace College as a whole. “Is there a perfect school that nails everything? No. But are we all working to the common goal? Yes. That’s allowed us to achieve some of these goals and get the exposure that allows us to branch out and bring bigger things to the institution.”
Briscoe also won the Meritorious Service Award, citing his work in the NCCAA specifically in men’s basketball where he was recently elected as Second Vice President for three years starting this fall, eventually culminating in six years to be named President of the NCCAA as part of the elected term. Noting the award hinges on service, which is one of the character strengths Briscoe brings to the table, the award was a sweet show of his tireless contributions to Christian athletics.
“I love the fact that I can serve other people and serve my coaches and players,” Briscoe said. “I feel it’s so important to serve others. To be honored by the NCCAA and the Crossroads League, that’s a tremendous honor, but it doesn’t just point to me and my work. There are so many people who are represented by that award.”
Back home, Briscoe has changed the culture of athletics at Grace College. Not shying away from not-too-distant truths about Grace athletics and where it has come, Briscoe is proud of the current state of the athletic program as part of the Grace College experience. What used to be activities on a campus, athletics at Grace are now part of the cultural experience. Miller Field has had major facelifts, the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center was completed, national brand names such as the Harlem Globetrotters, the Indiana-ACC Challenge, high school basketball shootouts and several national guest speakers have all visited Grace College under Briscoe’s watch. Briscoe has also brought visual marketing to another level, partnering with adidas and Nike along the way in a direct move to help advertise on a grand and recognizable scale.
The promotion of the product has also reached a national level, with Josh Neuhart and the sports information department receiving the award for the NAIA’s top website (gclancers.com). The department also gathered awards for its media guides and promotional fanfare, another testament to the direction to which the athletic department is responding as a whole to its consuming public.
“We are constantly trying to get the information out to the people, looking for innovative ideas, things that are out there and Josh has done a tremendous job to get that out there,” Briscoe said. “If you can use athletics to create a platform for the next step, you never know where that can lead. We are trying new things – always marketing – to get the Grace name out there.”
Added Briscoe about recruiting the Grace brand, “Recruiting is like shaving, if I don’t do it, I will look like a bum. You can never stop recruiting. You are constantly recruiting, look for the next person. It’s 364 days a year, give them Christmas Day off. But if you can get better players than someone else, that takes care of a lot of problems and opens doors for a lot of opportunities.”
While Briscoe and his athletic staff are hard at work, Grace College is secure in knowing it has 365 days a year of one of the best athletic directors in the country.