Sports

From Grandpa to Interim Athletics Director

When someone reaches retirement, it generally means being able to relax and spend time with those who matter most.

For Ted Kadowaki, it meant babysitting his two grandchildren with his wife and no longer thinking about budgeting and finance for Long Beach State.

But with the sudden departure of former Athletics Director Andy Fee, Kadowaki’s retirement hung in the balance, as he was asked to come back for the 2022-2023 year as the new Interim Athletics Director.

This wouldn’t be the first time he held a position of power in athletics, as he worked as the Associate Athletics Director of Business from 1998 to 2006.

In 2022 however, having to step back into the athletics department meant not only being in charge of financing but the whole department. It would also mean spending less time with his wife and grandchildren. Although he faced this daunting decision, Kadowaki was given the OK to go back to work by his wife, as she would be able to watch the grandchildren.

“If [the university] would have called me a year ago, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do this,” Kadowaki said. “I’ve put 30-plus years of my life into this place and I figured if they come asking for my help and there’s any way I can help, I should.”

Kadowaki made his return to The Beach in September, facing a budget deficit and figuring out how to stabilize it for the new athletics director that will be chosen next year.

“The fix on the financial side is not going to be an overnight fix because so many costs in athletics are forward,” Kadowaki said. “For example, once you commit a scholarship to a freshman, you’ve pretty much committed to pay that scholarship for four years.”

Even with trying to balance out a whole budget with only nine months left in his term, Kadowaki has the experience to work on this project, having worked with the CSULB finance department since 1989.

“Ted is an amazing, great guy, he’s very warm, but he’s very matter of fact, he’s never trying to push an agenda,” said Cal State Long Beach President Jane Close Conoley. “His only agenda is to give you information that you can use for decision-making.”

When making the decision to bring Kadowaki back to The Beach, Conoley said that they wanted someone who had experience with finances and with the athletics department, which would help bring calm to the department.

“Mostly everybody in the Department of Athletics already knew him. So, I knew that he’d be familiar and they would trust him,” Conoley said.

Even with the trust of his collogues, the budget deficit that Kadowaki faces is one that needs to be mitigated as much as possible.

Vice President of Administration and Finance Scott Apel said for a department to be in a deficit, the promises and obligations that a department has for the year are more than the budget they receive for the year.

Until the official deficit number is found during the spring of 2023, Apel estimates that the athletics department deficit is $4.5 million to $5 million. But because Kadowaki is now looking over athletics and they are continually receiving various forms of income, the deficit number is expected to go down.

There are multiple areas to look into when working on the budget for athletics and cutting costs isn’t the only thing that would need to be done.

“We also need to fundraise,” Apel said. “And we need to enhance our revenue just all around so that could be winning more and selling more tickets.”

While Kadowaki focuses on the costs, a search for a new athletic director will be held. Apel and Conoley both hope to have the next director by next year, with possibly a month of overlap between Kadowaki’s term and the new director’s term, as he plans to “re-retire” after the one year is over.

“I told them [Conoley and others] it was going to take me six to nine months probably to really get my hands around the issues and try to come up with some solutions,” Kadowaki said.

Interim Athletics Director Ted Kadowaki says that managing finances at a department level is more complex than for the whole university. The university level allows delegation to different individuals, while the department level tasks individuals to keep detailed records of all spending and allocations.
Interim Athletics Director Ted Kadowaki says that managing finances at a department level is more complex than for the whole university. The university level allows delegation to different individuals, while the department level tasks individuals to keep detailed records of all spending and allocations. Photo credit: Nicholas Broadhead

This isn’t the first time that Kadowaki has had to deal with budgeting projects regarding athletics at LBSU. During the mid-1990s, Kadowaki oversaw the construction of Walter Pyramid, which took planning, fundraising and even grabbing a loan on behalf of the campus, as the state only gave the university half of the funding.

“We actually borrowed money from a bank to put those hydraulic seats in,” Kadowaki said. “There was no way the state was gonna pay for that.”

The road for the remainder of the academic year will require Kadowaki to work on things he said he is not accustomed to, such as overseeing the human aspect of student-athletes and his staff. But he is doing what he can, saying that he spent the first six weeks in the office absorbing as much information as he can from those around him.

“I’m asking everybody else to push a little bit harder and be mindful that, you know, they’re on their own to a certain extent, and I’m giving them full authority to do what they do best,” Kadowaki said. “So far, everybody’s accepted that very well and everyone has stepped up and done their part, if not more.”

Although this budget situation is more severe compared to the last one he faced in athletics, Conoley and Apel both believe that they picked the right candidate for the job.

Kadowaki hopes to leave campus one final time in the best condition that he can. But once he walks outside that office, he is back to being a grandpa.

“If I can leave a year from now, knowing that, ‘okay, they’re in good hands, I’ve done what I can, and it’s now up to the new person to implement this and carry forward what I’ve left,’ if I can do that, I’ll feel good,” Kadowaki said.

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