Walter Pyramid
Long Beach State

COLUMN: Honesty The Answer For Long Beach State

I never thought I’d hear, “We’ve had some crazy road trips” or “Dan (Monson) may have made a few decisions bringing a few guys in that didn’t fit him, or the program” from a Long Beach State Athletics Director. That’s what happened Monday when Mike and I sat down with Andy Fee for The LB Fee Show podcast that we host every week.

“Being transparent is a big key to what I want to do here,” Fee said. “I respect and appreciate our fans, boosters, donors and community. As such, we need to be real with them.”

A transparent philosophy shaped how Fee and LBSU announced the news about signing men’s basketball coach Dan Monson to a newly structured five-year contract extension late last week.

The official university release was actually a letter from the desk of the athletic director addressed to “LB Nation” and it was accompanied by videos featuring Fee and Monson speaking directly to the camera from the Ukleja Room in the Walter Pyramid. The videos totaled more than 15 minutes, and both of them dove deep into how the program will improve.

“We’ve acknowledged that the last few years haven’t met our expectations,” Fee said Monday. “My expectation is that we’re playing Saturday night at the Honda Center, or wherever we’re playing in the future, for the conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.”

The official release also included a list of frequently asked questions with detailed answers about the terms of Monson’s new contract and the changes the program will make.

I wasn’t surprised to see the negative responses on social media despite LBSU’s best efforts to get in front of them. It’s been a tough few years for LBSU men’s basketball. But to their credit, the LBSU athletics department went even further to put their fans minds’ at ease.

The official LBSU men’s basketball Twitter account responded directly to the first handful of negative replies on the announcement. Each was handled with straight forward class and a mea culpa approach while directing the fans to the videos and FAQs.

One commenter said he didn’t think nonconference games against the nation’s elite programs has improved the team, and @LBSUHoops replied, “That’s a great point, and we have addressed our scheduling philosophy to create a more balanced schedule with fewer “marquee” road games against highly ranked teams. There will be changes, so we hope you get the chance to check out all the details in the story. #GoBeach.”

That is unheard of at LBSU, and you’d be hard pressed to find another example of a Division I university defending a decision like this.

I think the transparency is a master stoke by Fee, and it should be the standard operating procedure for everything from fundraising to facility improvements. The Long Beach sports community and fan base is smart and dedicated. You don’t get much past them, so why try?

Fee put the cherry on top of this news cycle roll out with Monday’s episode of The LB Fee Show. He talked at length about how the philosophy of the program needs to return to the way it was when Monson took over 11 years ago, and how it was when Monson helped build the Gonzaga program. He also mentioned that Monson had come to him with the idea of refocusing the program and restructuring the contract.

“Dan said ‘I need to do a better job’ to get us where collectively we want to be,” Fee said. “That’s what I love about Dan. He’s just real.”

Keeping it real will go a long way for Fee and LBSU in the future.

Episode 5 – The No. 1 Podcast With No. 1 Men’s Volleyball Coach Alan Knipe by lbsuathletics

The guys and Andy break down the contract extension for Men’s Basketball head coach Dan Monson, and then get right into talking about what’s already been a special season for No. 1 Men’s Volleyball with head coach Alan Knipe.

Future of Long Beach State Men’s Basketball

Uploaded by lbsuathletics on 2018-03-29.

Dan Monson Head Men’s Basketball Coach Announcement

Uploaded by lbsuathletics on 2018-03-29.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.