Hardwood & Hard Work: Tim Duncan’s Transition Game

By Will Baggett, @W_Baggs

Tim Duncan, middle, has helped elevate Clayton State to new levels. Photo via Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan, middle, has helped elevate Clayton State to new levels. Photo via Tim Duncan

In this Front Office Sports feature, we profile one of the more progressive leaders in college athletics who continues to pay it forward year after year.

Ironically, his influence correlates with the distinction of the NBA legend whose namesake he shares…Tim Duncan.

Not to be outdone by the former San Antonio Spur, Duncan himself played four seasons for the Memphis Tigers’ basketball program under coach Larry Finch and helped the team reach the 1992 NCAA Elite Eight during his senior year. 

In July 2014, Duncan was named as the third Director of Athletics for the Clayton State Lakers, officially taking over the “Lake Show” on August 4, 2014.

Prior to arriving at Clayton State, Duncan served as Director of Athletics at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia.

While at Paine, Duncan led initiatives that helped improve the academic profile of student-athletes earning at least a 3.0 GPA by a staggering 40 percent. 

Beginning his career at the University of Memphis as Director of the M Club, Duncan formerly held the position of Associate Athletics Director for Development at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Duncan’s path to “the chair”, however, was not as clear cut as it seems. The Memphis native actually began his career as a public relations coordinator for Russell Corporation in Midland, Georgia, in 1996. 

He assisted in managing sponsorships for the National Football League, Major League Baseball, as well as the NCAA. He also spent 5 years at RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, assisting with programs such as the NASCAR Winston Cup, NHRA Winston Drag Racing, and various lifestyle marketing programs. 

Want more great content like this? Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter

Similar to how he once transitioned up and down the hardwood, his unorthodox path equipped him with a wealth of knowledge pertinent to successfully transitioning into intercollegiate athletics.

Armed with a desire to assist other talented individuals with non-traditional backgrounds, the Emerging Administrators Academy was born.

In discussing his own career path, Duncan shared key advice for other professionals, no matter the road taken.

“Find a way to showcase your transferable skills to match an industry need. For example, I was in new business development as an entrepreneur which translated to my first job in athletic development--two very similar disciplines.”

Duncan’s original intent for the Academy was to provide assistance and career guidance to aspiring administrators seeking to transition from the private sector to college athletics. 

However, entering its 5th year of existence, the Emerging AD Academy has literally emerged as one of the premier career advancement conferences.

With modest attendance averaging nearly 50 delegates, approximately 75% work in college athletics in some capacity. Boasting a pupil to instructor ratio of roughly 3 to 1, this proportion bodes well for attendees seeking often-elusive face time with industry leaders who attend on an annual basis.

Duncan is a true student of the game and gets just as much, if not more, out of the seminar than its attendees.

“I have an opportunity to meet new and talented administrators from all over the country, both current and aspiring. It helps extend my network, and I get to learn from each of them," he said. "Listening and learning from our instructors is my favorite part. They are extremely transparent with their journeys, personal lives, and long-term career aspirations. Each year, I leave with several pages of notes that I reflect on until the next conference!”

The first three academies were held at the Atlanta Buckhead Marriott. However, since Duncan’s arrival at Clayton State, it has been hosted on the Lakers’ waterfront campus, as will be the case for the fifth installment taking place July 9-11, 2017. Talk about a starting five for a former baller!

Duncan was said to have a mean crossover back in his day, but one would argue that his crossover into college athletics has been his most impressive move yet.

We’re happy to report that no ankles were severed in the process.

Connect with the real Tim Duncan on Twitter, and be sure to follow EmergingAD for official updates! Registration opens one week from today on March 1, 2017.

16 Industry Leaders Offer Up Career Advice for Sports Business Success in the 21st Century

4 Essentials to Crafting a Memorable Thank You Note