Man with plans

Ferris State’s athletic director’s work paying off

For the last three seasons, Ferris State’s Athletic Director Perk Weisenburger and athletics staff have worked to improve Division I and II athletic programs at the university.

“We have outstanding strengths; our student athletes are part of that. I would attribute our success to the coaches that we have in our program and the expectations,” Weisenburger said. “Before my arrival, the expectation to just maintain the status quo may have permeated the department, and I’d like to hope that if I’ve done anything, I’ve established that we can do much more.”

Ferris State’s athletic program is considered the third best GLIAC program in the nation ranked by the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, and sits at 23rd in the nation.

Weisenburger believes Ferris’ athletic department has vast potential and without the current staff, much of its recent success would not be present.

Weisenburger came here to increase event attendance.

Ferris’ hockey games had record attendance during 2012-13, and many home games were sold-out. Ferris played 14 at home last year, where fewer than 2,000 people attended. This season improved to seven games with under 2,000 present.

Ferris men’s basketball total attendance at home (601/game) plummeted from last year’s season average of 718 per game.

Ferris has had to make changes since Weisenburger’s arrival with five new head coaches in his time.

Weisenburger replaced former Ferris football coach Jeff Pierce with now head coach Tony Annese. Mandatory randomized drug testing has been incorporated by Weisenburger too, which he believes has helped weed out bad apples.

Weisenburger plans to root Ferris athletics in Big Rapids and on campus through further social media use.

Weisenburger foreshadowed his concerns for future funding.

Increased travel made necessary by joining the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), improvements to facilities and program inventories are all immediately being considered as Ferris ponders its priorities.

Financial aid opportunities remain a vested topic. In order to recruit athletes suited for Ferris’ improving programs, funding to draw student interest is necessary to remain competitive in the GLIAC and WCHA.

Weisenburger and Ferris will continue to ask for support of alumni and the community through fundraisers.

“I think at some point we need a marquee sporting facility on campus,” Weisenburger said. “Something that can be used by all of our sports and be a showcase piece for Ferris State athletics.”

In the future, Weisenburger alluded to the possibility of remodeling Ferris State’s Ewigleben Sports Complex with a “student-athlete enhancement center.” The center would include an expansive weight training room, location for team meetings and improved athletic equipment.