EXCLUSIVE: One on One with Sandy Barbour

By Jacob Kaucher

Published 08/26 2014 06:38PM

Updated 08/26 2014 06:42PM

Sandy Barbour's is the new face in Penn State athletics.

She is the first woman ever to lead the department.

One of Barbour's top priorities is balancing past, present and future.

"Tradition's very important to me. But it's a mix. It's a mix of how we've done things in the past as well as what are some new and exciting things that will connect our community or maybe attract recruiting or attract students," Barbour says.

 Barbour sees Penn State as a strong brand in college athletics.

The Nittany Lions won three national titles in the 2013-14 school year, finishing  program-best fifth in the directors cup.

 "The opportunity to come to Penn State and be a part of a program that espouses such excellence."

Still, there are plenty of challenges.

In our interview, Barbour calls dealing with the NCAA’s $60 million fine the biggest one, all while trying to keep up with facilities and resources for athletes and rebuilding the Penn State community.

 "We just need to look at how we get one percent better every day. We need to be life long learners and we need to be part of the healing. We need to - Athletics is such a powerful, valuable entity. That we can be a big part of what continues to bring Penn State back together."

Changes outside of Happy Valley, though, may be what ultimately define Barbour's time as athletic director.

The NCAA recently granted extra autonomy to five power conferences, including the Big Ten.

Court cases involving issues like player compensation and unionization also loom over college sports.

"It's a new day. And whatever strategic plan you put in place, whatever road map you put in place needs to have the ability to be what I call situationally flexible. It's going to need to have the ability to be somewhat nimble if you will."

Barbour sees leadership as the key to tackling the task.

"We have to understand the changing tide of what's important to students, what makes an impact on their ability to succeed both in the classroom and in the athletic venue. And we just need to make sure we make decisions with really really good information."

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