A Fee for Long Beach State students

It’s 8 a.m. on a Friday and the semester is in full swing. A thin-framed, energetic, 43-year-old staff member is eagerly waiting to hit the sidewalks of lower campus.

New Long Beach State Athletic Director Andy Fee looks through his thick, black-rimmed rectangle glasses to check his daily schedule one last time before heading out for a full day.

He heads to water polo first to sit with head coach Gavin Arroyo for 20 minutes. The two are discussing putting in new lights at the Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center to make it a better facility for night matches.

Next on the Friday agenda for Fee is touching base with softball, where he sits down in the stands and watches batting practice. He waits 10 minutes for head coach Kim Sowder to talk about some incoming freshman and the team’s overall progress for the season.

Fee was hired back in April to take over for Interim Athletic Director Cindy Masner. He was one of four candidates to rise to the top from an original pool of over 100 applicants for the position. University President Jane Close Conoley talked about what made him the right choice, describing him as “intensely competitive,” and “so enthusiastic it’s infectious.”

“He really stuck out to me because of his commitment to all sports, even the club and recreational sports,” Conoley said. “His focus on academics was very important.”

Conoley noticed that Fee’s knowledge of universities outside of Long Beach made her feel more comfortable with him being the next athletic director. For Fee, Long Beach was a fantasy about to manifest into reality.

“It’s not often that someone gets their dream job on the first try,” Fee said. “I was lucky enough to be one of those guys.”

His main focus is on the student athlete graduation rate, while other things that are next to it is “to provide a great experience in the classroom and on the field of success.”

Fee looks to continue the school’s accomplishment of being the only Cal State University to finish with a minimum score or higher all 12 years for the Academic Progress Rate. This is a measuring tool created by the NCAA that tracks the progress a school’s athletes are making toward their degrees. Long Beach is in the top ten percent in the nation in APR, and Fee wishes to remain in that upper percentile while he is here.

He makes it a point that one of the nice things of being at a mid-major is that it puts academics first.

“We are not going to be a ‘win at all cost’ school,” Fee said. “This four-year commitment is about getting them a degree that can help set them up for the rest of their lives.”

Though Fee emphasizes the importance of education for student athletes, that doesn’t mean he’s not interested in dominating championships.

Fee believes Long Beach can win both in the classroom and on the field.

“One is not mutually exclusive to another and I believe we are currently doing both,” Fee said.

Long Beach has won six of the last seven Big West Conference Commissioner Cups. The Commissioner Cup is awarded to the school for its on field excellence in 17 sports. Depending on where the school finishes in the conference standings it is awarded points and the school with the most points across the 17 sports is awarded the Commissioner’s Cup.

“I believe that in order to be the best possible school we can we have to be champions both in the classroom and on the field of competition,” Fee said.

Long Beach currently has an 82 percent graduation success rate among its student athletes.

Many of the coaches on campus love that Fee’s experience comes from the mid-major level.

“I love Andy, he is nothing but positive energy,” Sowder said. “Him already being in the Big West he really understands where we are at as a program.”

In his first full year, Fee is seeking to build a foundation that can last here at Long Beach. His goals are simple; graduate student athletes, raise funds to improve all the athletic programs, and provide the best possible experience for the athletes.

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