Derek Carter has returned to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in attack mode.  The new athletic director at Coppin State is ready to kickoff his era with facilities “that are second to none” and no barriers, such as compliance issues, to overcome

“There are a lot of things already in place so I can immediately start attacking long range goals,” said Carter, who was named to the position in late July and started on Sept. 1.  “Our focus is on fundraising to increase our scholarship funding.” Carter replaced interim AD Alecia Shields-Gadson.

Coppin State's new athletics director, Derek Carter, says their program is "a hidden gem" and he hopes to increase its revenues while growing its stature in Baltimore. (Courtesy photo)

Coppin State’s new athletics director, Derek Carter, says their program is “a hidden gem” and he hopes to increase its revenues while growing its stature in Baltimore. (Courtesy photo)

Carter, 54, previously held the same position at Bowie and Delaware State and understands the challenges facing an urban HBCU commuter institution’s athletic program in Maryland.  Coppin and the other schools under the state’s university system must be creative in meeting the financial challenges to run their programs. Funding for athletics is not appropriated through endowments so Carter’s first challenge is to find new revenue streams and develop corporate partnerships.

“The challenge is to develop external funding resources to sustain the athletic department,” said Carter.   “We’ve got to increase season ticket sales, corporate partnerships, and even explore the possibility of naming rights”.

Coppin is one of the few mid major HBCU programs that has the luxury of selling the naming rights to a state of the art arena.  The 4,100 seat Physical Education Complex is the home of their signature programs which are men’s and women’s basketball. It is one of the NCAA’s premiere basketball venues on any level in the country.  The multi-purpose building has already hosted high school basketball championship games, Greek step shows, and concerts which have increased its exposure and visibility.

Naming rights for buildings such as M&T Bank Stadium – home of the Baltimore Ravens – are an annual revenue stream that help with maintenance and creates brand association between the athletic organization and company. Coppin’s arena is in position to capitalize on its purpose and the national television exposure associated with playing in the MEAC.  The chance to market the entire program through the building is a carrot that made this opportunity attractive to Carter.

“We can do some special things with our athletic complex,” Carter said.  “The facility is something that we have to capitalize on to create new revenue for our program.”

Coppin State’s athletic programs have been traditionally subsidized by the men’s basketball program.  Their annual nationwide barnstorming of major college programs during the holiday season for guaranteed big money games has been the equivalent of football teams earning million dollar paydays for embarrassing blowout losses. Those guarantee games will never be off the schedule but Carter hopes that by finding new revenue streams it will lessen the burden on men’s basketball as the prime resource for the athletic program.

The athletic complex is just one phase of the renaissance at Coppin State.  Their visibility has brought the program more attention in the fertile basketball recruiting territory that is Baltimore.  Its campus has become a prime recruiting tool that gives them a chance to compete for elite talent. The Coppin State Eagles signed three players from Charm City for their next recruiting class. Local talent means there are potential larger crowds at home games, which also contributes to the bottom line of the department.

“It’s important for us to be visible in Baltimore,” Carter said. “If we can get students to visit our campus we feel we can sign them.”

Carter’s long range plan also calls for improvements in baseball and softball facilities to level the playing field for those programs in the conference. He sees the program as “a hidden gem” which can bring a different shine to the west side campus.