Joshua Boone’s small-town upbringing follows him, from the idea that everybody knows everybody to his Southern accent.
He admits it’s always been a attribute he could count on to help in his career.
The Perquimans County native has taken a small town approach and used it to achieve big time status. He recently accepted a position with the University of Miami as the school’s assistant athletic director for business operations. He now supervises the Hurricanes’ multi-million dollar operating budget and is a major sports administrator for one of the biggest programs in the country.
Just a year ago, working in the athletic department for fellow ACC school North Carolina, he was promoted to associate director of business operations. After nine years with the Tar Heels, and his entire life spent in the state, moving to Miami was a whole new experience.
“I was from a small town, and my wife’s from Brevard and worked at the Rams Club at UNC, so moving to Miami we thought was kind of harder than moving to the moon,” Boone said. “It’s just a different place down here, but we just love it.
“Miami is a different culture, and Spanish is spoken here probably more than English. We don’t speak Spanish, but I think we get along pretty good.”
Boone, a 1991 Perquimans High graduate and basketball player for the Pirates, didn’t look to sports administration as a career out of high school. He earned a degree in athletic training at Elon in 1995, but then saw sports management as a better route through internships and work with the sports department at UNC Charlotte.
As college athletics has become a dominant factor in terms of fans and school revenue, Boone saw interest in the areas of sports management and administration. It intrigued him enough to get two more degrees: his master’s in athletic administration at East Carolina and returning to Elon for his MBA in 2004.
Between the degrees, Boone earned more experience by becoming a media liaison for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. With its offices in Chapel Hill, he was able to network and then begin administrative work with the Tar Heels.
Those networking skills, Boone said, began with growing up in Perquimans.
“The one thing that’s stuck with me my entire life, and especially with this business, is that it’s all people-related,” Boone said. “The importance of people when you come from a small place and you know everyone, that’s no different in college athletics. You don’t burn a bridge in college athletics, because everyone knows everyone, and they won’t call someone on your reference list, they’re going to call someone else at the school who knows you. Relationships are important just like in a small town.”
Boone had to work through NCAA sanctions late in his tenure with UNC, after the football program was proven to have
accepted impermissible benefits and academic fraud.
That experience is being utilized at Miami, as the school is also awaiting an NCAA decision on allegations of former Hurricanes players receiving benefits. Miami self-imposed a bowl ban this week to try and lighten any NCAA sanctions, and also did so last season. The Hurricanes’ athletic director recently left to take the same job at Nebraska, which has made for more transition.
Boone, who handles all ticket revenue for football, said it’s about moving ahead, staying positive for the future and ensuring that it doesn’t have any lasting effects on the athletic budget.
“Right now it’s kind of all over the map, but there’s not a dull day,” Boone said. “But where there are challenges there are also lots of opportunities to get better. I don’t think there’s two days that are ever the same.
“It won’t affect us cash flow-wise this year, but it’s just something you want to get better in the next year and build, and the football team is a big part of it because it’s a big part of our revenue here.”
Another issue that Boone keeps an eye out for is the recent changes in schools switching conference affiliations. While the ACC has been expanding, the conference saw just its second defection ever when Maryland announced its future move to the Big Ten on Monday.
The Terrapins’ athletic budget is in need of repair, and had ended a number of sports programs in an effort to break even. The Big Ten offers more revenue in football and a chance for Maryland to regroup its athletics department.
Boone understands the financial part of the move.
“I understand why they’re doing it, and they have a lot of sports there, so I understand why but I don’t understand why the Big Ten is taking them,” Boone said. “I don’t think they match up well in that league. I understand the argument with the TV markets and all, but I don’t think they’re a good fit for that league.
“To each his own, and one of the tough parts about our business is the financial model a lot of times doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. That you are supporting a whole athletic department based on one sport, and if you have a down year, your revenues are down, it can affect just about every other sport you have, so a lot of times the financial model doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
He is making more sense of city life.
From the warmer Florida temperatures (he said a cold day is around 68 degrees) to hosting his wife’s family for Thanksgiving dinner today at Key West, it can almost amount to culture shock for Boone.
Most of his family still lives in northeastern North Carolina: his father is a retired dentist who practiced in Hertford, his mother a retired Camden teacher. His sister, Alison, has recently opened up a dentist office in Elizabeth City.
Boone’s wife is pregnant, and they hope to make it back to Perquimans to visit after the baby’s arrival, expected in early March. He still misses times back home at his parents’ house in New Hope.
It’s a small town thing.
“I first lived out in the country on the Perquimans River, and at night, if you ever go outside, you can see stars,” Boone said. “Down here, there’s so many lights, and we’re close to the city, you can’t always get that. You go out in the country, the night is just so clear and the stars are out.”