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One-On-One With New Boise State AD: Conference Alignment, Hoops And Shedding A Few Tears

Boise State University

When Jeramiah Dickey stepped before the microphones in January, shortly after being named Boise State's new athletic director, he was caught off guard at how emotional the moment would be.

"It was overwhelming ... in many ways, to think back about all the people that impacted me along the way," said Dickey. "I'm a product and a testament to a lot of people who loved and cared about me, maybe more than I cared about myself sometimes."

The task at hand is significant: coming in the wake of an unprecedented, trimmed-down football season and approaching basketball's postseason, Dickey also has to navigate Boise State's standing in the Mountain West Conference, amid a whirlwind ofrumors about the possibility of jumping to another conference.

In his first one-on-one broadcast conversation since becoming Boise State's AD, Dickey visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk basketball, conference alignments and the rare opportunity of simple joys like taking time to play catch with his kids and his dad.

“Our brand is powerful, and that's something that we're going to continue to grow and utilize. But I also think there are some things that we can control here from a facility and budget standpoint and revenue generation. So, I'm excited to do that.”

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning, I'm George Prentice. Jeramiah Dickey is here. If you don't know him yet, you will. He is the new Athletic Director at Boise State University at this critical moment in the history of Boise state athletics. And we are proud to say that Mr. Dickey has granted us the privilege of having the first one-on-one conversation with him, on-air, since taking over this significant challenge. Mr. Dickey, good morning to you.

JERAMIAH DICKEY: Good morning, George, and thank you for having me.

PRENTICE: Well, let's talk hoops. We're about to enter the post-season, and this will be the easiest question I ask: Understanding you have a very specific lens that you look through, how deep into the tournament will the men's basketball team go this year?

 DICKEY: That's a trap question. I have a lot of faith in Leon [Rice] and our student athletes are just tremendous.. and what they've had to endure… and the challenges along the way from a health and safety standpoint… and just really proud of them… and very, very appreciative of everyone, from a health wellness standpoint…putting in the time, effort and energy to create these opportunities for us to even have a marvelous conference tournament and then ultimately the NCAA tournament.

PRENTICE: Well, speaking of the NCAA tournament,,, right about now, a lot of us would be getting pretty excited for March Madness to return to Boise. And the pandemic changed all that. It's not as if we automatically get the next opportunity…. So, my question is, what's our chance of getting the tournament back in Boise, sooner than later?

DICKEY: I think we have a great chance. And, you know, from a bid standpoint… I know we've hosted before. I know that it's been very successful. I know our staff and students embraced it and overall community support has been outstanding. The number of people have mentioned their memories from those games. So I'm excited.

PRENTICE: We’ve had some pretty legendary games here. But that's a process.

DICKEY: Yeah, there's a bid process. We're going to always put our best foot forward and we're going to continue trying. I can't speak to the past when we've had it or missed it, other than I know that that's a great opportunity for us and we're going to continue to work towards.

Credit BSU Blue Thunder / Flickr
Albertsons Stadium

PRENTICE: Let's talk about the Mountain West Conference and I'll ask a question that I'm certain you have been asked personally and professionally a dozen times: Is the Mountain West Conference the best fit for Boise State football and basketball right now?

DICKEY: That's the conference that that we're in and we're very happy to be a part of the conference and for the opportunities it provides us.  And being the new athletic director, my job is to do my due-diligence… to always do what's in the best interest of this institution and our student athletes. That's a process that we’ll continue to go through. But I've been very happy and appreciative of our commissioner and how the conferences embraced me.

PRENTICE: A veteran college football writer, Stewart Mandel, wrote in The Athletic just a few days ago…he posed the question, “As more conference TV deals are set to be negotiated, who would you say are the top five schools most likely to make the leap?” It was a hypothetical question. His answer to his own question was< No. 1, Cincinnati No. 2 in the country, Boise State.” Does that surprise you that things like this are being written?

DICKEY: Not at all. I think that's a testament to our staff and this institution and what we stand for. Our brand is powerful, and that's something that we're going to continue to grow and utilize. But I also think there are some things that we can control here from a facility and budget standpoint and revenue generation. So, I'm excited to do that.

PRENTICE: What's the chance of Boise State being in the Mountain West Conference a year from now?

DICKEY: I think there’s a great chance. I think right now, as everyone in the industry is reading the tea leaves, I'm not sure what the future holds, but there's been talk of  changes coming for quite a while. And our job is to be prepared if and when something were to happen… to always put us in the best possible position, along with a lot of people.

Credit Screenshot/YouTube
Jeramiah Dickey, Boise State Director of Athletics

PRENTICE: I watched when Boise State announced that you were taking this position. My biggest takeaway was, how emotional that event was. And correct me if I'm wrong, I think I saw some happy tears there. Can you talk about how emotional this decision was for you?

DICKEY: Absolutely. And it's a great question. You know, that wasn't my intention. When you get up there and you think about that moment for your whole career. 23-years-old… I wrote down a goal if I wanted to be an athletic director, in a Division One institution. And then to make it… it was overwhelming in many ways to think back about all the people that impacted along the way. You know, I think I said then, and I'll say it now, I'm not an outlier, I am a product and a testament to a lot of people who loved and cared about me maybe more than I cared about myself sometimes. And so it was it wasn't just me up there. It was my friends in college, because in this industry, that I don't talk to all that much, but they still reach out to me. That means a lot to me…my friends back home from El Paso, Texas. And it's a lot of one-sided conversations because I'm not able to see them as much because of the seasons and how this industry works. So when I'm up there… and I was thinking about all of them and the sacrifices they made and the fact that a lot of people hadn't given up on me and that meant a lot to me… it meant the world. And on top of that, you think about all the staff and your teammates. You know, nothing is an individual world. In my mind, I represented every single person that I've ever worked with, god, bad or indifferent. And so, it was emotional. And you have your family there. You have kids. You know, there are a lot of days they don't see dad.

PRENTICE: How old are your kids?

DICKEY: I have three. The oldest is seven. Emerson, she's beautiful. And Elijah just turned five…can’t wait to get here. So, he's pumped about football. And then Easton is two and a half and he's  a firecracker. And he’s the challenging one. But he's a good kid and he loves sports, so they're excited to get here.

PRENTICE: I'm certain you were told… and my guess is you have confirmed… that you could do a lot worse than bringing kids up here at Treasure Valley. This is this is a very kid-friendly place.

DICKEY: I've heard that George. When I was doing my research… and the process went very quickly. But every person I spoke to: Coach Pete [Chris Peterson] was outstanding. And I'm very fortunate for people like that. We're able to talk about that because that is a very important piece of this for my family. So, yeah, I'm excited about having them here.

PRENTICE: When you were a kid, what was your go-to sport?

DICKEY: I always loved, loved football and basketball. Those were my two sports. And not surprisingly, those were the sports that my dad loved. And my grandfather was the team doctor at UTEP. He was best friends with Don Haskins. So, I grew up going to camps, being around the programs. And, you know, at that point, I had no idea what went on behind the scenes. And so, when you go through college and life and you're defining your directions, those memories very much played a part in the path that I chose. And, yeah, I love athletics. And there's nothing better in my in my mind. And the fact that we get to impact 300-plus student athletes in their experience and in preparing them for life, that's powerful. That makes it even better. So, that excites me.

PRENTICE: My guess is you play catch with your kids all the time… when was the last time you played catch with your dad.

DICKEY: That's a good question. It's been a COVID year, so it's been over a year because of COVID. But the boys… I play catch with the boys a lot… but it has been over a month because I haven't been home in about a month. But with my dad, it's  probably been a year. That's that was one of my favorite things. We would throw the football. We throw the football in the street. You know, that's the last time he was in Waco [Texas].. That's what we did. So I appreciate that question because it brings back memories. He's a good man.

PRENTICE: He is Jeramiah Dickey, the new athletic director for Boise State University. Best of luck to you ,as we enter the spring sports season. Best of luck to you and your teams.

DICKEY: You. Thank you. I appreciate the time.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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