Kyle Moats talks with us about the upcoming school year and what Bears fans can do to support Missouri State student-athletes.
The Bears Fund: Have athletes been able to work out on their own during their time in quarantine?
Kyle Moats: Yes, to some degree. The NCAA has forbidden our strength coaches and coaches to advise them on workouts, so they are having to be creative and disciplined to work out on their own. We know many of them are working out and are anxious to return to campus and competition.
BF: Have coaches been able to connect with their players during this time?
KM: Very much so. Many of our coaches are being introduced to Zoom technology for the first time. They have had virtual meetings, e-mail threads, phone calls, text messages, etc. I have encouraged our staff to be very engaging with our student-athletes during this difficult time. They have done a great job. It’s very important in times like these to stay connected.
BF: How has recruiting looked different the last two months?
KM: The coaches have done a great job thus far with recruiting. It’s difficult for both the perspective student-athlete and the coaches to have a normal recruiting experience. Part of the process is coming to campus and getting a feel for the community, the people and your potential teammates. This hasn’t been the situation this spring. Coaches have had to rely more on virtual interviews and tours. Another important aspect, as always in recruiting, are relationships. I think now more than ever, high school and JUCO coaches are relying on those coaches they have had relationships with in the past to help their student-athletes find places to play.
BF: What are your three biggest areas of importance for the upcoming school year?
KM: In my first meeting with the coaches in March, I stated the three areas of importance for our student-athletes would be their health & safety, academics and the ability to compete. We would focus on these areas and do as little as we could to not alter them, especially the health and safety of our athletes. Secondly, we would ensure that our academics would not go backwards and any help our students needed would be available. We also made a conscious decision to honor the athletic scholarships of those spring senior athletes that got their seasons taken away. In addition, those students that needed help with graduation or eligibility were able to take summer school to assist with their degree completion. Finally, it was first and foremost that all our current teams would be able to compete in the upcoming year. This isn’t solely my call because the NCAA determines practice and playing seasons, but I wanted to make sure that any cuts we had to make would not eliminate opportunities for our student-athletes. They may have to alter where they stay, how often they eat, who we play and where we play but they will have an opportunity to compete. Sacrifices will have to be made by everyone.
BF: How is the athletics department managing budget cuts? Do you plan on raising ticket prices?
KM: It’s difficult to determine the cuts when you don’t know for sure what the cuts are going to be. We have been working on numerous budget models based on a variety of scenarios. Once we have a better understanding from the state, in terms of their cuts/allocation, coupled with enrollment, we will then be able to better determine our budget for athletics. This probably won’t be definitive until June.
Raising ticket prices and Bears Fund donations to our season ticket holders will NOT be part of our plan to help offset our deficit. Many people in the Ozarks have been hurt severely by the pandemic. Many of those people are our fans. We understand the difficulty and hope you will continue to support our teams in these trying times.
BF: Why is private funding from donors important to the overall athletics budget?
KM: As always, private donations are critical to the success of our teams. Our budgets are not the highest in the league and we’re doing our best to keep them in the top half of the league. With these cuts we will need to be even better stewards of our dollars. I can assure our fans we don’t have excess funds. Private donations will be critical to our teams moving forward. We realize the next few months will be hard on everyone but once we get back to some form of “normalcy” we look forward to seeing you at the field, ballpark or gym rooting on your Bears!
BF: Since spring sport seniors can come back next year, how does this impact the roster along with incoming freshman?
KM: The NCAA has allowed a one-year waiver to allow however many seniors you had in 2019-20 to remain on the team for 20-21. This will increase roster sizes in some sports but not all. We have 13 seniors out of 21 that will be returning in a variety of our sports. We’re glad to have them back. We’re excited about their senior campaigns.
BF: Do we anticipate fall sports starting on time this upcoming school year?
KM: I really do. I’m cautiously optimistic. I think we must play football for the economics of intercollegiate athletics to work on all levels. Seasons may be modified, the number of games may be altered, championship field sizes could be reduced; there are numerous possibilities that college leaders are discussing. It’s difficult to determine, but rest assured the best people on the college and professional levels are trying to come up with viable solutions. I continue to meet with Valley colleagues and NCAA staff to try and determine the next steps and what others are doing. We’re all in the same boat trying to figure out how best to navigate the waters.
BF: How can Bears fans help support MSU this coming year?
KM: Once we’re able to get out and attend events we hope to see you at our venues rooting on your favorite teams. We hope you’ll consider continuing your support of being a season ticket holder and a Bears Fund member. Any help you could give is appreciated and needed at this time. I would offer this as well. We’re all Bears, so if there is something we can do to help you please let us know.
BF: What message would you like to say to our Bears Family right now?
KM: We will continue our quest to be a championship program. Our goal of sustained excellence doesn’t change. I know you expect us to win the Valley, compete in the NCAA, graduate our student-athletes at a high rate, be compliant and do it all in a first-class matter as we represent this great university. There is no better time to be a Bear. Be loud and be proud!!! Go Bears!
Look for more of our “10 Questions” series to come from The Bears Fund.
The Bears Fund is the annual fundraising program for men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletics at Missouri State. Your contributions to The Bears Fund help pay for recruitment efforts, tuition, room and board, fees, books, scholarships and other athletics or educational programs. The Bears Fund contributions benefit all NCAA sports programs at Missouri State and enhance the collegiate experience of our student-athletes.