Grand Canyon University has wasted no time bringing their program into Division-I athletics. They have brought in Phoenix icon Jerry Colangelo as a consultant and namesake of their business school, and has basketball games scheduled against perennial powers Kentucky, Indiana, and New Mexico this upcoming season.
The university made another big change by bringing in Mike Vaught as the new Vice President of Athletics. Vaught, who has worked with the Naval Academy, Rice, and Southern Methodist University, brings a wealth of experience in growing programs, and in Southern Methodist’s case, helped revived the program from the death penalty.
“This was a difficult job,” GCU President Brian Mueller said. “This was a job most people wouldn’t take because you have to embrace a challenge and overcome obstacles that don’t exist.”
The university was able to bounce back, raise money for the athletic program, go to it’s first bowl game in 25 years, and hire Larry Brown as the university’s head basketball coach.
Vaught said there are three goals for Grand Canyon’s athletes: Graduate, win championships, and be role models.
“If we check all three boxes there, we’re going to produce great leaders for this country. We’re going to produce great people that make a difference in their society and neighborhoods,” Vaught said.
Colangelo said Vaught’s experience in running big-time programs makes him an asset for a growing university like GCU.
“In Mike we have a man who has a firm grasp of what it takes to build a program,” Colangelo said.
Vaught also said he and his team will look to other Top-25 athletic programs as examples of success.
“Anytime we discuss something, whether we’re going to get something or do something, we run the survey, ‘Do Top-25 programs have it or do it?’, if the answer is yes, then we need to get it or put a plan in place to work towards getting it.”