New Athletic Director’s focus for Oakland


Ryan Pini

One of Steve Waterfield’s goals for the future of OU baseball includes a field renovation.

In the last five months, Athletic Director Steve Waterfield has had a busy first semester. He has met with every staff member of the Athletic Department and attended many sporting events in an attempt to immerse himself in the culture of Oakland’s athletics.

“It was a good semester, it was a lot of learning, listening and observing,” Waterfield said.

His three main focuses for 2019 and beyond are continuing the Lepley Center project, fixing the baseball/softball field and trying to improve golf facilities.

The Lepley Center project is a project focused on improving workout facilities, introducing space for student-athletes to study and improve academically as well as film rooms and other utilities that are essential for preparation.

“In November the university started a capital campaign for the university,” Waterfield said. “The athletics part is the Lepley Center, baseball and softball facilities, and the indoor golf facilities. It’s moving, I’m waiting for the final case statement materials and have had some general conversations with donors. That will become more and more frequent as we move along.”

Facilities have been a major issue for coaches and student-athletes, as many have compared Oakland’s facilities to that of a Division II school rather than Division I, which Oakland has been for 20 years. Renovation has been a topic of discussion for years.

“The plans have been in place for a while but for whatever reason we haven’t had a lot of traction,” Waterfield said. “I think the key is to get those main gifts, and get to an amount of money that allows us to get started on all three projects.”

A big point of contention for Waterfield was the state of the baseball and softball stadium. Most years, the teams don’t have a home game until the end of exams due to weather. The field is located downhill, which gets flooded most of the time.

“We need to dramatically improve our baseball stadium and our softball stadium,” Waterfield said. “Right now we can’t host Horizon League tournaments at either facility. Getting the baseball stadium and softball stadium improved is one of the main goals.”

Oakland has been a Division I school since 1999, but has aspects that are sub par compared to other Division I schools in the state and nation.

“I think there are things structurally in Athletics that have prevented us from truly being Division I in certain areas,” Waterfield said. “As we start to build toward that and make more progress I feel we’ll make more strides. There’s a lot of work to be done here, but there’s a lot of work to be done at every Division I school.”

Despite needing work in some areas, Waterfield is optimistic about Oakland sports and says his first semester has not dampened his excitement at all, but improved it.

“The student-athletes have been phenomenal, a great group who make Oakland University phenomenal,” Waterfield said. “It’s a well kept secret that we’re really good and have a foundation to be much better. My goal is to make it a badly kept secret.”