Dan Plunkett is the new compliance specialist working for the Jacksonville State University athletics department. Recently graduated with a masters degree from Southeast Missouri State University, Plunkett ran the Woodstock 5K and placed first in his age category.
What was your background in athletics prior to college? I was a cross country and track athlete all throughout high school and middle school. I was playing baseball, then decided I wanted to try cross country, and that is what I have been doing ever since.
How did you get into working in collegiate athletics? I studied sports management in undergrad, and my masters degree is in higher education with an emphasis in sports management. I could not figure out what I wanted to do within sports management because there are so many different things I could do. One of my good friends was the assistant director of compliance, and he explained that compliance involved all aspects. I decided that if I could not make up my mind, I might as well do a job that covers all aspects and is involved with everything. I got into it last November, and I have been doing it ever since.
What interested you in sports management? When I went to college, I wanted to teach history in high schools. But I looked into sports management because sports have always been a big part of my life. I have enjoyed it ever since I switched majors.
Tell us about your position at JSU. I am the compliance specialist for the athletic department. Basically, I work with coaches and student athletes and educate them on what they are allowed to do and what they cannot do. I also help with initial eligibility when they sign their letter of intent to come to JSU. I work with coaches to make sure the student athletes have all their tasks done and are eligible to come in and start playing right away. I make sure the coaches are holding the right amount of hours for practices and the correct length of seasons.
What is a typical workday like for you? My office hours are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. I’ll come into the office and have certain tasks I need to do. Right now, I am working with some of the coaches, finalizing and making sure all of their kids are ready to go for the fall. My tasks will change during the course of the year.
Do you regularly run? Yes, it is my main hobby to stay healthy and fit. I stick to the Ladiga Trail because it is away from traffic. A lot of the roads around my apartment have no shoulder, so it can get interesting with cars. It is really nice to have such a long trail that is well maintained so close.
How much do you run? When I was a student athlete at SEMO, I would be running 80-100 miles a week. I decided I wanted to cut back and do easy runs, so I have been doing only 30-40 miles a week, which is significantly easier timewise.
How do you keep pushing while you are in a race? If I am in a four-lap race, I focus on one lap at a time. I look at the glass as half-full, not half-empty. I don’t think “Oh, man, I have three more laps!” I try to focus on one thing at a time. Most of running is mental; you can really psych yourself out and make it a lot harder than it is if you just mentally give up. Taking it one step at a time makes it a whole lot easier.
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