by Buddy Pearson
Rob Schabert knows all about how to adapt and create.
For 33 years, Tennessee Tech’s assistant athletics director for sports information and broadcasting adapted to new ways of doing things while coming up with creative ideas of his own. His unique skillset helped him carve out a legacy at Tech and in the community.
“Whereas a coach keeps his win-loss record, I actually kept in the back of my head a win-loss record, and I had a lot of wins, so to speak,” explained Schabert. “A lot of things I started are still here.”
When Schabert stepped onto the Tech campus in 1982, he was given a blank canvas to work with. Over time, he blanketed that canvas with fresh ideas which have enhanced the athletics department.
“The two biggest accomplishments in my 33-plus years were conceiving new ideas and creating them; hiring and developing new people would be the other,” Schabert said. “Most of the people I brought here aren’t in the business any more, but some of them still are and are doing well.”
In the ever-evolving world of technology, Schabert’s job was continually enhanced by new ways of doing things. Keeping stats by hand and calling media outlets after games morphed into updating websites, downloading stats and emailing box scores.
“What we do now at Tennessee Tech is about 175 degrees different than when I got here,” Schabert said. “Not 180 degrees, because a little bit is the same, but almost everything is different. We couldn’t have even imagined back in the ’80s the things we do today.”
While Schabert adapted, he used his creativity to promote Tech’s student-athletes and athletic events.
“I had no direction,” admitted Schabert. “I came up with the male and female athlete of the year, man and woman of the year, presidents awards, and athletic directors honor roll.
“I saw things at other schools and said ‘we can do that here,’” continued Schabert. “I was the first one in the conference to do a lot of things and then they picked it up. I created a lot of the in-game promotions and my philosophy was ‘the crazier, the better.’”
Schabert’s creativity wasn’t just limited to athletics. As a husband to his wife, Joan, and father to his son, Matt, and daughter, Kristin, Schabert also was involved in some groundbreaking community groups, which are still active today.
“I was the charter member of just about everything in town — the Clean Commission, Save the Depot, Putnam County Crimestoppers — everybody knew me and I was willing to do all of those things,” Schabert recalled. “That was all before the internet. Once technology hit, I made a conscious effort to quit everything because the job became so time-consuming.”
Since his retirement at the end of May 2016, however, Schabert has adapted to a more relaxed pace while coming up with creative ways to stay busy.
“I have worked in my yard in the heat almost every day. It is almost caught up, so now I have to go find something else to do,” joked Schabert. “I can’t turn off the ideas in my head. I’m still thinking of stories, promotions and ideas that are all sports-related.”
Whatever new things Schabert has to adapt to in retirement or whatever creative path he chooses, he reflects with pride on what he accomplished at Tennessee Tech.
“When I look back, I can honestly say I’ve given all that I could,” he said. “I could not do one more thing.”
The Schabert Stats
MILES DRIVEN IN MEDIA VAN: > 500,000
GAMES WORKED: > 8,500
ATHLETES PROMOTED: > 7,000
TOURNAMENTS & MEETS: > 1,300
PRESIDENTS SERVED: 5
ATHLETIC DIRECTORS WORKED WITH: 5