A new basketball arena and possible NCAA penalties are among the challenges facing new Charleston Southern athletic director Jeff Barber.
Barber, whose 29 years of Division I administrative experience includes stints at Liberty, Furman, South Carolina and East Carolina, was introduced as CSU's third AD on Thursday. He replaces Hank Small, who spent the last 17 years in the role before stepping down in April.
“I am extremely humbled and blessed to be here,” said the 60-year old Barber, a native of Greenville, N.C., and AD at Liberty from 2006-16. “I stand here before you today so glad that God has directed me in this path. I truly believe the next 10 years at this university will be a special time. I am walking into a great opportunity and I could not be more excited.”
Barber acknowledged the challenges he will face at CSU, among them an ongoing NCAA investigation and the need to increase fundraising.
The football program was saddled with more than 30 suspensions during the 2016 season, and there are likely to be more sanctions coming once the investigatory process is complete. Student-athletes in various sports, including football, were investigated for improper use of scholarship and book monies.
In addition, former football coach Jamey Chadwell was suspended for a 2016 game against Albany State because of a violation involving the NCAA’s policy on the use of social media for recruiting. An assistant coach also was suspended for a game.
“We have already had conversations about it but I will become more involved when I take over on June 1,” Barber said. “I embrace what it is and I understand there are some things coming. We will make the best of it. We will work through it and make sure we don’t have these problems again.”
The school is hoping to build a new basketball arena on campus, something that was announced in 2012 but has yet to begin. Barber eyes that project as major, as well as other facility and capital improvements.
“A new arena would be great,” Barber said. “Ninety-five percent of what I do is with recruiting in mind and obviously that would be a great recruiting tool. I will be a big part of that in working with the administration in trying to help secure some gifts to go towards the new arena.
“We have to catch up, but to be honest, I have a heart for building things. I am comfortable in the environment where I have to fight, where I have roll up the sleeves and work hard.”
During his tenure at Liberty, Barber was instrumental in leading the Flames on to the next level of collegiate athletics. His efforts were recognized in 2012 when he was named the NACDA FCS Athletics Director of the Year for the Southeast region.
Barber spurred a record-setting increase in Flames Club memberships, athletics giving and season ticket sales for football and basketball. During the last 10 years, the Flames Club experienced tremendous growth and collected nearly $10 million in total contributions. Flames Club membership hit the 1,000 mark in 2015, a near 10-fold growth during Barber's time at Liberty.
Barber spearheaded new construction efforts for baseball, softball, field hockey and lacrosse, men's and women's soccer and men's golf.
Liberty's athletic programs were successful throughout Barber's tenure.
Over his 11-year span, Liberty won 83 conference titles, including seven Big South football championships, and earned NCAA Tournament berths in baseball, field hockey, football, men's basketball, men's golf, men's soccer, softball, volleyball, women's basketball and women's soccer.