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Doug Woolard settles in

Since taking over as athletic director on June 14, Doug Woolard has had the summer to settle into his new home at USF.

“It’s been a very fast treadmill for us,” Woolard said of he and his family’s transition from Saint Louis University. “There are a lot of things we are trying to catch up with.”

Woolard had to get in and get comfortable quickly; much work was to be done in and around USF.

Over the break, Woolard sat up from a leather seat in his office and talked about the future of USF athletics.

“As we go into the Big East,” he said, “we’re going to continue to need to improve our athletic facilities if we are going to be able to compete on a national level.”

That fact will be in plain view every day when he sits in his office.

Red McEwen field, a stadium far behind what universities around them state are using, can be seen from a large window in Woolard’s spacious second-floor office. In the distance, work is being done to remove the trailers where the football operations once convened.

Woolard will also explore options to upgrade the soccer stadium, the softball complex and the sun dome.

His hiring came after the decision to build the multi-million dollar athletic facility. From there, he said, USF looks to make improvements to its other sports facilities.

“I think everyone would tell you that they’re very impressed with Doug Woolard,” said USF football coach Jim Leavitt, of the transition Woolard has made. “I know personally I’ve introduced him to quite a few (players). But he’s got so many things to do. He’s been so busy that there are a lot of people pulling on him right now. But every chance he gets he does spend time with players. He’s really a very personable individual.”

I really enjoy spending time around him. He’s very sharp.”

Sharp is what he’ll have to be if USF is to play on a national level.

Most of his time spent so far has been with meeting people in the Tampa Bay community. He has spoken at alumni functions and different business ventures in the name of increasing USF’s presence in the community, he said.

Uniting a university and a community is something Woolard has done in the past.

On Woolard’s watch, the Billikens’ men’s basketball and men’s soccer teams have ranked among the nation’s leaders in attendance. Looking back, he has said, when you think of Saint Louis sports, because of partnerships with the professional teams in the area, you think of the Rams, Cardinals and Blues, three St. Louis pro teams, as well as the Billikens.

Hearing Bucs, Lightning Rays, and Bulls will take time.