To know Dave Williams is to know his favorite book.
It’s called Speed of Trust, and it is heavily involved as Williams begins his new job as deputy athletic director of external affairs at the University of New Mexico. He officially started last week.
After being hired last month, Williams began a methodical process of becoming a key part of the Lobos’ athletic department that went beyond the standard getting-to-know-you with coaches and administration staff.
Williams, who was the deputy A.D. at the University of South Dakota, wanted to spend a few days in Albuquerque after his hiring was announced. He wanted to meet coaches and administration, and attend a men’s basketball game (against Utah State on Jan. 26), so that he could hit the ground running during his first week of work. He left his family back in South Dakota, a sign of his new dedication to the Lobos.
He also met with the Journal to talk about his duties, his family, his life and his past.
It could be said that his actions took a page out of his favorite book by Stephen M. R. Covey that shows how establishing trust is “the one thing that changes everything,” in business and life.
Williams became emotional when he talked about his family and moving them out of South Dakota to New Mexico. His oldest son, Cooper, will stay back as he is a redshirt freshman basketball player at Dakota Wesleyan, a NAIA program. His daughter, Carter, won’t move just yet as she is a senior competing in gymnastics at Vermillion High School, where she is set to graduate in May. She is planning to attend UNM and is hoping to be a part of the Lobos’ cheer program.
Caden, 13, is ready for the big move to Albuquerque, where he plans to continue his loves of basketball and golf.
“Really gifted kids, both academically and athletically; they get that from their mother,” Williams joked, referring to his wife, Suzanne, a kinesiology professor at South Dakota.
“We’re just going to go back and forth to make it work,” Williams said of the spring. “That’s a big move. I think that shows you how much I believe in this place though. I wouldn’t be moving them here. I wouldn’t be leaving my son there. I am excited about it. There are so many good things about it.”
“Whenever you make a change it re-energizes you.”
Williams’ introductory visit to Albuquerque last month featured the excitement of new experiences and reminders of his past.
He reconnected with Utah State coach Craig Smith, the former South Dakota coach who guided the Aggies to a 68-66, close-shave win over the Lobos.
Williams also dealt with a bad part about his past as the blog, NMFishbowl.com, reported on when Williams was arrested for driving while intoxicated in 2010, when he was the athletic director at Missouri Western State. Williams was two years into his job at Missouri Western State, where he secured the Kansas City Chiefs’ preseason training camp, that included an indoor training facility.
“I was happy that it came out (in the blog last month),” Williams said of the news of his past. “So now I’m not always wondering when it’s going to come up. I’ve dealt with it … It’s my biggest regret. I’ve tried to figure out how to make it a positive. What I think it did at that moment I became more of a continual learner in my life. We in athletics can sometimes think that we are omnipotent and think we are invincible, but I think it made me a continual learner.”
Williams said he was proud of what he accomplished at Missouri Western State, but because of the DWI his time there is, “still such a hollow part of my career.”
“But I wouldn’t be where I am if that didn’t happen,” he said. “Adversity shouldn’t define you. It’s how you handle the adversity that should define you. Hopefully I’ve handled it well.”
Trust, once again, became an important theme, as he said he built it back with his family and at Missouri Western State, where he was removed from his job for a month, returned and then his contract was not renewed after a year. He then went to work at Kentucky Wesleyan for another three years and then to South Dakota for three years.
During the interview process at UNM, Williams had dinner with Lobos athletic director Eddie Nuñez. That was when Williams reminded Nuñez of the DWI and wanted to make sure they knew it was something in the past that he learned from.
Nuñez was more focused on Williams’ experience as a deputy athletic director at South Dakota.
“He’s a good communicator,” Nuñez said of Williams. “He knows how to communicate and connect with different individuals in the way that is necessary. Having held the director of athletics position at three institutions, he has shown he has done well with changing and adapting during his career. He makes another wonderful asset for us to have.”
Williams initially showed interest in the job at UNM because of his respect for Nuñez. The two met in 2006 during a sports management conference at the University of North Carolina, Williams said. They kept in touch from time to time and followed each other’s career from afar.
Nuñez’s wife is from Owensboro, Ky., where Williams worked as the athletic director at Kentucky Wesleyan, Williams said.
Williams enjoyed his time at Kentucky Wesleyan, where basketball was of great importance. Williams’ background is in basketball, as he played the sport while growing up in Chicago and also later became a coach. He knew he wanted to have a career in athletics because of that initial love for basketball.
“My variety of relevant experiences for this position is strong,” said Williams, who takes over for Brad Hutchins, whose contract was not renewed in December. “I feel really confident that because of those experience I can help.”
The Lobos could use the help. The UNM athletic department has endured significant turmoil, including budget struggles that led to the elimination of four sports in August and a football program that has seen a huge dip in season-ticket sales and attendance.
Williams’ confidence comes from his knowledge and appreciation of the value of teamwork, or as he says being aligned with the administration staff. He believes if everyone is on the same page they can accomplish a great deal, and that includes fundraising.
He said there are pluses and minuses for working at any institution. What he has noticed at UNM — “Lobo pride” — can be extremely helpful in solving the problem areas.
“What is our brand,” Williams said. “We want to remind people of that brand. When they see that UNM logo I want them to think of something. What are they going to be thinking of? I hope they don’t think of isolated incidents that have happened. I hope they think of what we stand for as an athletic department, as a university.”
Developing student-athletes is one of the most important parts of what the administration stands for, Williams said.
Williams knows that within that development is establishing trust.