Everything Eagles: Athletics merges with student development

With NCAA transition nearly over, a big internal change reunites two old co-workers.

Austin Green, Managing Editor

(This story was originally published in print on March 14, 2019).

By now, Bethany Miller can hopefully start to see light at the end of the tunnel.

The former Eagles women’s basketball coach was promoted to athletic director in January 2016 and given an overarching task—to oversee Biola Athletics’ lengthy transition process into the NCAA. Just over three years later, the Eagles stand closer than ever to fully accomplishing that goal.

NCAA officials made their annual visit to Biola’s campus on Tuesday as the 2018-19 academic year enters its home stretch. This year also marks the end of a mini-era. If all goes well, Fall 2019 will mark the start of Biola’s full, unrestricted membership into the NCAA. That means that for the first time since leaving the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics—and for the first time since my freshman year—the Eagles will be able to compete in national postseason play, as well as the PacWest championship tournament for men’s and women’s basketball.

It will mark a major accomplishment for a deserving person. Miller is one of the most courteous, graceful people I have had the pleasure of meeting. She has been known to give grace to a certain student reporter when his phone deletes a 20-minute interview recording, or when a busy day of classes and meetings means they keep missing chances to talk.

In all my interactions with her, she has remained extremely open and kind. Her personality draws a stark contrast to nearly everything I have heard and read about the leader of a certain other Southern California collegiate athletic program. “Fighting On” seems more difficult than ever these days for this longtime USC fan, whereas getting to know Miller makes it a privilege to flash some “Eags Up” hand wings.

Now, Miller will take that same great mentality into adjusting to a new boss.

Biola Athletics will merge with Student Development, effective May 20, President Barry Corey announced in an internal email that was provided to the Chimes. The move coincides with the departure of longtime administrator Greg Vaughan, who has most recently served as special advisor to Corey for athletics and talent management. Vaughan has decades of experience and familiarity with Biola Athletics.

Vice President of Student Development Andre Stephens has far less of that, although he is a Biola alumnus.

Whatever obstacles this adjustment poses for Miller and Stephens, I suspect they will be able to overcome them fairly easily. According to Corey’s email, the two have a long history of working well together in admissions—which, ironically, is the department Vaughan used to oversee.

Stephens himself deserves plenty of praise. Student Development has made wonderful strides under his leadership in recent years, most notably its’ continued focus on student mental health.

I do not present all this good news to make the case that Biola Athletics is perfect. Just less than two months ago, I used this space to share my concerns for the immediate future of men’s basketball, the school’s flagship program. Those concerns have not changed.

Sometimes, though, it is worth taking a step back and looking at the big picture. And from where I stand, Biola Athletics is moving in a positive direction under phenomenal leadership as it prepares for an exciting new era.

That gets me as hyped as I would be for an epic win over that school in Azusa.

Well, almost.

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