Wright State Director of Athletics Bob Grant believes his job is a contact sport. For him, getting to know the student-athletes who wear the Raiders’ uniforms is a priority.
Whether inviting each team over once a year for dinner at his house or regularly attending the Wright State Student-Athlete Advisory Council meetings, Grant has built a unique camaraderie on campus.
“This is a people business,” said Grant, who has been in his current job at his Dayton, Ohio, alma mater for the last five and half years. “I’ve got around 270 student-athletes that are 18-22 years of age. What is important to me is their satisfaction, their buy-in and their trust. All those things are crucial to our success.”
One budding tradition that rallies everyone around the Wright State athletic department is the #uhyeah Twitter hashtag, which accompanies personal shout-outs from Grant.
The congratulatory gesture originated from Grant’s habit of saying, “uh, yeah,” whenever someone in the Raiders athletic department is successful. He means it as, “Of course we had success. We’re Wright State.”
So for the past two years, if one of the Raiders’ teams is victorious or an individual earns an accolade, such as earning an academic achievement or being named all-Horizon League, Grant spreads the word via Twitter. Earning a tweet also earns the student-athlete a T-shirt with the hashtag on it.
The shirts have become so popular that the university bookstore wants to sell them and the athletic department receives phone calls from people who want to buy them.
“I always say no to those requests,” Grant said. “This is something that is for our student-athletes.”
Grant doesn’t consider himself a big social media person, but he saw potential in this idea.
“This has really caught on around our community,” said Grant, who gradutated with a degree in business management in 1988 and earned an MBA from the university in 2000. “It’s something that has turned into something fun and competitive for our student-athletes.”
Another Wright State tradition that has started during Wright’s tenure: student-athletes who have earned a degree get to leave a permanent mark by signing a wall outside the athletic department office.
Grant takes special pride in Wright State athletics because he’s worked in the department since his undergraduate days in the 1980s. His first job as a student was to keep statistics at Wright State basketball games.
Through the years, he has worked in almost every capacity in the athletics department.
That gives him a well-rounded perspective because he understands what his staff is going through each day.
The Raiders’ athletic department operates on a budget of about $10 million. Like other departments around the country, it tries to find more revenue to support the student-athlete experience, but Grant doesn’t want to forget why he got into this profession.
“College athletics is getting bigger and bigger, and you can see where people feel they have to feed it,” Grant said. “I refuse to let our staff lose sight of why we are here. The parents of our student-athletes have trusted us to mold their sons and daughters for the next four to five years, and nothing is more important than that.”
The mission of the Wright State Athletic Department is take care of the student-athlete as a person first, as a student second and as an athlete third.“I think we do this well,” Grant said. “Our athletes have a unique sense of community here.”