The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

Catching up with Warrior AD Michael Matoso

Athlete after athlete walked by Michael Matoso and nodded in greeting as he stood outside the Athletics Department having just completed his workout.  The youthful energy that surrounds the building is a direct attribute of the environment he has created.
Two years ago today Michael Matoso was named Director of Athletics for California State University, Stanislaus. Matoso left the University of San Diego (USD) after 13 years, earning five consecutive Commissioner’s Cups and experience in building an Athletics Department during that time. Before his stint at USD, Matoso spent the previous four years with the University of Southern California as a football and baseball academic advisor.
Matoso came to the Warriors in hopes of building on the existing structure that was in place.
“I wanted to come to an environment where you can make it better and win,” Matoso said. “I was really surprised by the campus and facilities and thought it was a place that I could come up and make better.”
The school has already seen success during Matoso’s era.  Having two championship women’s soccer teams, a very strong track program and a basketball team who, at the time of the interview, was fresh-off a deep run into the postseason that saw the team win a conference championship despite previously never winning a conference game.
Matoso’s focus is not primarily on the field, however. Much of his time is spent finding ways to improve the facilities on campus as well as improving the relationship the Athletics Department has with the surrounding community.
He mentioned the improvements to the locker rooms that have recently been completed, the continued renovations that the baseball and softball fields are going through and future plans for improving the Ed and Bertha Fitzpatrick Arena.
Matoso expressed desire for people to view games as events. Baseball and softball are evidence of this desire as the new stadium lights sit along the outfield of each stadium while new scoreboards, concession stands and entrances are on the horizon.
When he first arrived on campus, Matoso’s biggest priority was addressing the need for a change in culture and how it correlated with his biggest accomplishment thus far.
“If you look at college towns and successful college towns you know that’s what they have,” Matoso said. “They have community support, and here there has been a pretty big disconnect between the community and the campus. We’ve done a good job getting the community involved, and we’re getting people to come back on campus that haven’t been here in quite some time.”
Matoso mentioned that the surrounding area is very supportive of the local high school sports and that the campus has a great chance of creating its own niche in the community.
The on-going battle with the community and its opinion of the school is something that is ever-present on a commuter campus. When asked about the idea that Stanislaus is a small school and not necessarily a “sports” school, Matoso vehemently disagreed.
“I don’t buy that at all,” Matoso said.   “That’s part of what we’re trying to do – to get people to change. I don’t think a lot of people realize how good Division II athletics are. I mean it’s just as good as mid-level Division I.”
He went on to argue that players like Marcus Bell, Chris Read and Rob Walters could all play Division I basketball. Matoso also mentioned that many players, when choosing to go to a smaller Division I school rather than a school like Stanislaus, could be making a mistake.
“Division I is so competitive, so many people get wrapped up on the entire Division I dream,” Matoso said.
“A lot of the time they’re going to sign at universities that really aren’t that great. Without naming any schools, you can say, ‘Hey you’re going to school A or school B and you’re going to get it handed to you every week. Or you can come here and build something special and try to win national championships.’”
Matoso’s most notable change came from changing the logo from the Warrior masthead to the new “S” wordmark.  Athletes and students alike were uneasy with the change with some even going as far as to claim that the Athletics Department “decapitated the Warrior.”
While sitting in Matoso’s office, he pointed to the walls adorned with pictures of Warrior athletes competing in various sports.
“We didn’t have a single font or color that was the same; everyone was doing their own thing,” Matoso said. “I thought we needed a clean, fresher look to what we were doing. It’s a tough logo to have. You don’t realize until you’re doing it, but having a consistent look amongst your teams is really important.”
Those select few who wish to see the Warrior mascot become a thing of the past are going to be disappointed.Matoso indicated that changing the logo was enough of a “headache” for him and that changing the actual mascot is something that would need to be initiated from the top.
It would seem remiss not to ask the Director of Athletics about the the debut of Stanislaus’s “undefeated” football team. Just a stroll across campus will find many students clamoring for a football program. When asked why Stanislaus does not have a team, Matoso answered very simply: Money.
“For us to have football: It’s not just adding a sport, it’s adding a staff, it’s adding three or four women’s teams, it’s adding trainers, it’s adding academic counsellors. To do it right it would probably double our operating budget and our staff.”
So despite the constant clamoring for a team, the school unfortunately will have to wait for the undefeated Warrior Football team to make its long-awaited debut.
Matoso’s impact has been seen throughout the campus. The athletes have adopted his “Prepare to Compete” mantra, and it seems that the campus is starting to come around as well. As the teams continue to build, the venues continue to improve and the community continues to embrace Warrior Athletics.
“Realize that we are trying to build a community and we’re trying to build tradition,” Matoso said. “We want students to come here and be like, ‘Wow this is really

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Catching up with Warrior AD Michael Matoso