SMC names new athletic director
Santa Monica College named a new athletic director over the summer, Ricardo Hooper, replacing Joe Cascio who accepted a position at Long Beach Community College. Hailing from California State University, San Bernadino, Hooper emphasized how SMC was, "a new environment." "With 3,400 students, I'm really excited," said Hooper.
Hooper started out as a football coach at Nicholls State University, in Thibodaux, Louisiana. From there, he went into academic administration at the University of Arkansas.
After Arkansas, Hooper had a chance to go back to his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, to teach high school, but soon found himself back at the higher level.
"I didn't really like high school as much as college," said Hooper.
After moving around from the University of Clemson, where he served as an academic adviser, to San Jose State University as an assistant athletic director, and then to Delaware State University as a senior associate, Hooper headed back to California for good, settling in at CSUSB before arriving at SMC. Hooper is no stranger to sports, having played football in college at Clemson.
"I'm excited about them all [sports], to be honest with you; my passion and purpose is to see the student-athletes compete in what they like, so I get joy from watching them do what they want to do and what they enjoy doing," said Hooper.
Hooper said that he is thrilled to see the water polo teams perform this season, as it is only the second time in his career he has been around the sport.
"At Cal State San Bernadino, it was my first exposure to water polo, and I was amazed about how difficult and how tough a context that really is," said Hooper.
This is Hooper's first time serving as a head athletic director, overseeing all of SMC's sports. "Student athleticism teaches you so much for our community and our young people," he said. "It's a way to discipline yourselves."
While he is new to the program, Hooper mentioned that he does indeed have big plans for the athletic program.
"I'd like to compete in the upper levels of the Western State Conference, and also the Football Conference Association," said Hooper. "I'd like to compete in those upper levels of conferences so I'll just have to assess where we are and make a plan about what it takes to move forward."