Miguel Paredes was named Kansas Wesleyan’s Director of Athletics on Monday. He’s currently Director of Athletics at Stephens College, a private women’s institution in Columbia, Mo. and has been there for three-plus years.
Paredes has 13 years of experience in higher education and was at Texas A&M-Kingsville (NCAA Division II), Westminster (NCAA Division III), Central Methodist (NAIA) and his alma mater Graceland (NAIA) before Stephens. He coached football at the college and high school levels for 14 years prior to transitioning to administration.
Paredes has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health from Graceland and Master’s degree in education from Central Methodist. He will assume his duties at Wesleyan in January but will be in attendance for the men’s and women’s basketball games December 3 against Oklahoma Wesleyan in Mabee Arena.
Paredes discussed his pursuit of the KWU position and some of his ideas for the athletic department during a recent question and answer session.
Question: What attracted you to the Kansas Wesleyan position?
Paredes: As AD at Stephens, I always get those emails on what’s happening at certain places. For me there was a lot of excitement about what’s going on there – The Power of AND, all of the renovations going on … you don’t see that happening nowadays in higher education. My nephew (Esteban) actually lives in Salina and is an alum from Kansas Wesleyan. He always talked about what a special place it is so when the opportunity presented itself it was a no-brainer. I have family in Newton and also in Wichita so that was a plus. This is going to sound kind of weird but in the state of Kansas you have the Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State and in my opinion there’s Kansas Wesleyan.
Question: What was your first impression during your on-campus interview?
Paredes: The facilities are amazing. I remember when the football stadium was redone and seeing that and then just everything else that has happened, I was really, really impressed. But what impressed me most was how everybody was friendly; they were very open. I asked what’s the good, bad and the ugly and no one said anything negative about the place. I’ve been to places where you ask that question and people tell you this and that. But I got a ‘sense of family’ answer and that’s what I have always enjoyed working in. It’s going to sound kind of corny but it felt like being home.
Question: You work with six sports Stephens but will have 25 at Kansas Wesleyan. Have you explored any cloning opportunities?
Paredes: I talked to Steve Wilson (Deputy Athletic Director) and I said ‘Steve you know what it’s like’. It goes back to the resources that we have to offer. For me, I’m big in professional development. Like I told the staff (during the interview) we all have huge aspirations to be better than what we are currently wanting to be. To me, it’s all about giving those people the experience and guiding them through it. I’m going to rely on the resources we have and the coaching staff and it’s going to be a learning process for all of us. I’m excited.
Question: You’re a former football player and coach; how excited are you to have a football program to work with again?
Paredes: I actually spoke with (former KWU coach) Matt Drinkall, when he called and congratulated me. He was like ‘man you should have come sooner’. It’s exciting to be a part of an institution that has football but like I told my wife, I miss coaching, but it’s not me anymore. The fact is that I’m able to relate with all of the coaches, especially the football coaches, and I’m not just an AD at an all-women’s school without knowing anything about male sports as well.
Question: NIL (name, image, likeness) is a hot topic in college athletics. How will you handle any opportunities KWU athletes might have?
Paredes: First and foremost, we’ve got to educate ourselves so we know what it actually entails and then we’ve got to make sure that we have the resources. So, for us it’s all about educating yourself and making sure it’s the best fit for KWU and our student-athletes. For me it’s all about making sure we’re making the right move and it’s going to benefit our student athletes. If there’s an opportunity there, then I’ll say ‘yeah, let’s do it.’ I always tell my coaches when you recruit student-athletes, there’s certain baggage kids come with, we’re going to do our due diligence to make sure that we can help these student-athletes overcome that. Same thing with the NIL stuff. We’ve just got to our research and if it’s something that’s better for our student-athletes and will benefit them, why not?
Question: Academics and student retention are top priorities. What are a couple of your ideas for KWU student-athletes?
Paredes: I don’t really like it when coaches say we have mandatory study hall and they all get together and meet at the library from 7 to 9. To me kids don’t learn that way. One thing that we’ve done (at Stephens) is interacted with our faculty members and encouraged that. For freshmen and transfer students coming in instead of meeting with coaches, why not have them set up a time where they can meet professors, why not meet with the faculty and academic support service people? My idea is to get as many people involved that will help in tremendous ways. The people involved have to have more than just the coaches there so if there’s an issue, they’re able to talk to them and they’re going to make the student-athlete feel comfortable and they’re not going to leave because there’s no one else to turn to. Being a former teacher, I know people have different learning styles and strategies, so for me it’s about how can I get my coaches to cooperate with the faculty and staff and talk with our students and have them learn the academic system so they can understand it better.
Question: What’s the first thing you want to do when you get to KWU?
Paredes: Building relationships. People want to know what’s going to change, some people will be scared, some will be nervous. They wonder if you’re somebody they can trust and do you care about me? I want to build on the relationship that I’m here to serve you guys, it’s not the other way around. Those first 30, 60, 90 days are going to be building relationships and earning their trust and respect.