Matt Roberts is a numbers guy.
You’d expect that from a university athletics director. Sports are statistical by nature: wins, losses, personal record times, free-throw percentages, batting averages, shots on goals, service-break opportunities. Every moment of competition seems to have numerical significance, but that’s not the kind of number Roberts thinks about first. Rather, the number he prioritizes is 358.
For Roberts, 358 represents everything about the College’s true purpose and its ultimate success: 358 is the number of student-athletes that proudly call themselves Cougars.
“As a university, we must be focused on our student-athletes and their development … their complete development on the playing field and in the classroom,” says Roberts, his voice betraying a soft North Carolina accent. “That is and will be our guiding principle.”
As might be expected, Roberts, the College’s new athletics director who joined the College in January, speaks with a coach’s intensity as he maps out the future of the Cougars. He stresses integrity, innovation, inclusion, respect and teamwork – lessons and traits he learned at his previous institutions: the University of North Carolina, the University of Oklahoma and Southern Methodist University.
Whether leading sports marketing for the Tar Heels, fundraising for the Sooners or the day-to-day athletics operations for the Mustangs, Roberts understands the importance of creating a plan and how it shapes a culture of success.
“But our plan cannot be just words on paper,” he points out. “We, as an athletics division, as a university, must live it. We must lock arms and be bound together for one common goal.”
That common goal, in Roberts’ estimation, is simple: “We will be the best overall program in the Colonial Athletic Association. It’s my charge that every team, every office, every service be the best in the league. If we are already there, let’s stay there; if we’re not there yet, let’s get there. By designing our culture around the student-athletes and their success both on and off the field – that’s how we make their experience extraordinary and unforgettable, that’s how we take care of our 358.”
And, as Roberts knows, numbers don’t lie.