With just a simple question, G. Larry James could learn everything he needed about athletics at Richard Stockton College. He simply asked: "What's going on?"
From that point, coaches, players and even fans would tell the former Stockton athletic director everything he wanted to know. It was so simple, but something not many people have replicated.
"It's a gift," Stockton's current athletic director Lonnie Folks said. "He appeared to be so low key in his approach but he had his hand on the pulse of what was going on in the athletic department. He did it in such a way that wasn't intrusive or anything."
James, a two-time Summer Olympics medalist, arrived at Stockton in 1972 as an assistant athletic director and became athletic director in 1980. Stockton's athletics were at the club level, but James built the program alongside other administrators.
"When people think about Stockton athletics, Larry James' name is the first name that pops up - and rightfully so," Folks said. "He came here right after an Olympics and he was still competing and a world-renowned figure and chose to settle in at Stockton."
A testament to James' ability to run Stockton is seen in the coaches. Of the 15 programs that have been active for more than 10 years, nine of them have coaches that have been with the program for 10 or more years.
Coaches don't want to leave, such as softball coach Val Julien, has been an assistant or head coach for 29 seasons. Stockton men's basketball coach Gerry Matthews will enter his 26th season and women's basketball coach Joe Fussner will enter his 15th season.
Why do they stay? The late G. Larry James, who died in 2008.
"He made Stockton athletics what it is," Julien said. "We had some tremendous success here. Being so young and against such tough competition, but so many sports have done tremendously well. I attribute that to Larry James."