When Rob Murphy joined Mercer’s athletics department back in July of 1999, he also became something of a purchasing agent as well as head of training.
The department was housed at Porter Gym. It lacked air conditioning, a light fixture fell during a volleyball game, the roof leaked on a regular basis, and it was small.
Murphy’s new surroundings, which took up about 300 square feet, weren’t quite what he expected.
“It was tiny,” he said with a laugh. “We were in a rat hole. We were tucked in the basement of a rat hole.”
There were no cold tanks for athletes to ice down in, so Murphy had to buy ice every day and put it in garbage cans for Mercer athletes to sit in.
“And clean them out,” he said. “We had an ice machine that would only produce 40 pounds of ice a day. We go through 40 pounds of ice in 20 minutes.
“I would have to buy 200 pounds of ice, basically. We were purchasing the ability to have a cold tank.”
Life changed drastically in 2004 when Mercer, after years of promising that groundbreaking was only months away, finally built and moved into the University Center.
Now, Murphy has six graduate assistants and one full-time assistant on the staff, which works in about 2,600 square feet of space, with plenty of cold tanks.
“Now, what used to take three hours is done in 10 minutes,” he said. “Little things like that.”
The transition won’t be so drastic at his next job.
Murphy is at Mercer for only a few more days, having accepted earlier this month the position of assistant athletics director/director of sports medicine at N.C. State.
It’s quite a jump from a school of 2,500 students in a mid-major conference to one that has seven full-time certified trainers and nine graduation assistants working from a variety of different locations.
Murphy’s final task was Friday. The Ocala, Fla., native was with the men’s basketball team at Navy, and the team won’t return home until Saturday. Then he’ll hang around for a few days and most likely take in the basketball doubleheader Monday against Florida Gulf Coast before heading to Tobacco Road.
He’ll have enough memories to chuckle or cringe the entire drive to Raleigh.
Murphy is one of only four full-time members of the athletics department to spend a decade with the Bears, along with head baseball coach Craig Gibson, senior women’s administrator and director of athletics for academic affairs Sybil Blalock and athletics coordinator/administrative eligibility coordinator Myra Cameron.
When the department moved to the University Center, it finally upgraded in all other areas, including sports medicine. At Porter, Murphy and his staff had only one electrical stimulation machine to use.
“I would have a line of six people waiting to use the ultrasound,” he said. “Now, we have I think 10 units.”
Murphy succeeds Charlie Rozanski, who resigned in August.
“Everybody loved him,” Murphy said. “He actually was the athletic trainer of the year last year for my national organization (National Athletic Trainers Association), so I’ve got some big shoes to fill.”