Possible AD candidates start to trickle out

  • 07/05/2008 11:32 am in

mcrobbie45.jpgThe Indianapolis Business Journal has an excellent piece this morning on the search for a new athletic director and it includes a list of candidates that could potentially fill the opening:

Former IU basketball player and current Senior Associate Athletic Director Chris Reynolds, IU Varsity Club Director Scott Dolson, former IU football star Harry Gonso, former IU basketball player and TV commentator John Laskowski and well-known Indianapolis sports attorney Jack Swarbrick are the names with the strongest local ties that have surfaced. Tom Jurich, the highly regarded University of Louisville athletic director, is the first and most prominent within the AD fraternity to surface. He certainly won’t be the last.

Not a bad list to kick off the search with, but the chances of Jurich leaving Louisville for Indiana are zero unless IU is willing to pay upwards of $750,000 (or more) annually. And given the financial packages that are currently on the books, it would be hard to justify that kind of cash for a guy who would likely want to come in and get his own guy to head the football program.

McRobbie, who departed the country for a planned trip shortly after Greenspan’s resignation was announced, is expected to make the final decision himself. He hasn’t said how the candidates will be identified, but sources within the university’s athletic department expect him to take one of three routes.

The most likely process would mirror the one McRobbie used to hire Crean. He formed a search committee to identify two or three finalists and made the hire after conferring with IU’s nine-member board.

Hopefully this will be the route used in the hiring as it would put McRobbie’s accountability front and center and give him a chance to put his stamp on the athletic department going forward. If he makes the right call, he solidifies himself as an important figure in the rebuilding process following the Kelvin Sampson fiasco. If not, well, you know the story.

The final point of interest from the piece is the debate on whether IU needs to hire an AD with “Indiana ties.” Mike Pegram, who runs Peegs.com, feels it’s a necessity while former IU cross-country and track runner Bob Kennedy isn’t so sure:

“I didn’t formerly subscribe to hiring an IU guy,” said Pegram. “But now I do. I just think now it’s so important to nurture the Indiana culture—emphasizing playing by the rules, graduation, doing things the right way. I think having the kind of sensibility that will come from someone with Indiana ties is now more important than ever.”

“We have to keep our horizons broad and get the best possible person,” said Kennedy, who was recently elected to the IU Varsity Club board of directors. “It’s up to the president and trustees to define a culture and hire people best able to nurture the culture you want.”

I’m going with Kennedy on this. If we subscribe to the “we need an IU guy” theory, Tom Crean is still in Marquette and we’re left with Steve Alford or Dan Dakich. The necessity is to hire best candidate out there, regardless of previous affiliations.

So, ITH’ers: A couple of questions for you to ponder and then discuss. What do you think of the early list of candidates? Any names that intrigue you? Do you want McRobbie making the final call on Greenspan’s replacement? And finally, do we need an “IU guy” in the role of athletic director?

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  • nealE

    I don't care if it's an IU guy or not, I just want someone who is personable, knows what they are doing, and can be a face for IU. Saying all that, there are PLENTY of people who are “IU guys” who fit this description. I don't care if they have AD experience. Chris Reynolds would be awesome, IMO. And I would also love Dan Dakich, if I'm being honest. Based on how he handled himself with the situation he was in, how he handled the pressure, and the kind of decisions he made, he did great. He was also very, VERY charismatic and personable at his radio show, and he certainly would bring more of an Indiana feel back.

    If I'm putting my money on anybody, I'm going with Harry Gonso. They already had him head the Crean search committee, and they did that for a reason. He's got to have the best chance of those listed. But to answer your last question, no, we don't need an “IU guy” to succeed and prosper. But it would help, and I do want one. When making a hire, you chose the best possible candidate. But if there are some within the organization or family that are more than qualified, I think you have to go with them. And I for one hope we do.

  • JerryCT

    Being an IU guy is nice to have but NOT a requirement and NOT high on my list. Neither is AD experience in my opinion at this moment.

    I want a hard nosed CEO , turnaround type specialist, who is not willing to accept pressure from alums, other AD's, coaches, previous IU athletes, McRobbie , trustees, the press, the statehouse, Bruce Weber, Eli Holman or anybody . I donot want “business as usual” with the NCAA .

    I want a Lee Iacocca type guy that will question all things and will fire anybody , including Crean, who may even think about breaking rules or enabling athletes to sneer at their academics.

    I am looking for Jack Welch, Donald Trump, Geo Steinbrenner, Larry Ellison, Gen Petreaus,Schwartzkopf. or Patton ………..

    So you are getting my drift that I fear that an IU guy will owe somebody a favor. A career AD guy will accept too much as normal in college athletics.

    I want an executive with a record of implementing radical change and tight control fearing no one ( including the NCAA ) and owing no one.

    Break the mold, think out of the box, hire this type of guy initially for 2 years then reposition if need bE.

    Whew that felt good to say

  • msdiu81

    Chris Reynolds. McRobbie final say. Don't necessarily need an IU guy, just get a good one and Reynolds is the guy. IU ties, intelligent, Law degree, experience at IU and Notre Dame athletics. Good fit.

  • MikeinNC

    Hire for talent, ability and proven track record, period – if there are IU ties, that's a great bonus. McRobbie needs to step up and be accountable for this decision. No more of this invisible-Herbert-and-trustees-did-they-force-Sampson-on-Greenspan-or-not baloney. He needs to show what kind of fingerprint he wants to put on the athletic program.

  • tberry

    We (IU) most certainly do not need “an IU guy.” What IU needs is the best guy. The guy who has been the most consistently successful while adhering to IU’s tradition of honesty. IU is not the only school who has valued honesty and IU guys are not the only people who value honesty.

    IU needs to get the very best and most consistently successful person for AD. that is successful at being AD, not successful at playing or being lawyer or an old IU crony. Get a successful proven ATHLETIC DIRECTOR who has proven his success at being an ATHLETIC DIRECTOR. If that means letting him bring in an proven successful football coach who has proven his ability, GREAT.

    We seem to value success when we look for a Basketball Coach but are more than willing to settle for mediocrity when we look at football. A few years ago both IU, and Illinois had pathetic football programs. UI hired Ron Zook, a very successful coach and they are now going to the top of the Big Ten. Now look at what IU has, and tell me with a straight face, that Bill Lynch will do anything memorable on his way to leaving IU as bad or worse than he found it.

    We have a honorable proven winner in Tom Crean and IU will be successful again. Now we need a proven AD that will hire a proven winner in Football. IU can and will be a sports winner across the board if IU is willing to get the best, who have proven there ability at all their previous jobs. We have Tom Crean, now let’s get the rest.

  • iumike

    Couldn't agree with tberry more. Just because someone is an IU person does not make them someone that is the best person for the job or make them someone that is uncorruptable and could very well “owe” someone.. It seems (for now anyway) that we did pretty damn good with the last hire in TC and he was not an IU person. tberry makes an even better point in that we seem to worry the most about the bball hire. While yes this was a very very important hire, the hiring of a high quality football coach will more than likely be the most important hire the next AD will have to make. While I consider myself a bball fan first and a football fan second that does not mean that I donot understand that is also a very important hire because done correctly it could very possibly surpass bball in the amount of money it can generate if the right decisions are made that allow it to reach that level of success. Stop and think about how much money we are paying people that are not even coaching our football team anymore. I would really like it if someone could please tell me how not just putting out the money for the right person years ago could be any more expensive then what we are paying out now. While I believe coach Hep was a very good hire circumstances beyond our control had put us in the position of having to hire another football coach and while I very much hope I'm wrong I am afraid we did not learn from our past history so we were doomed to repeat our past mistakes. Break this terrible cycle and hire an AD that can see these past mistakes and will not repeat them. If Jurich from Louisville , or any other AD with a proven track record, is willing to listen to an offer from us then I think we owe it to everyone concerned that we at the very least make him our best offer. While there is no gaurantee that he will do every little thing perfect I also see it as a better chance of us not adding still yet another person to the payroll that is not even at IU anymore and yes whoever makes the final decision should be willing to let everyone know that it was them who had the final say and that if something goes wrong I”m the one to blame.

  • Tom Jurich is the man for the job and it's not even close. This guy is worth his weight in gold. I live 20 minutes away from Louisville and i am very familiar with him and the U of L program, and Louisville is now one of the best programs, anywhere. Don't believe me? When he was first hired, Louisville was no more than just a glorified mid-major, much like a Xavier. Now, Louisville's athletic programs rival any in the nation, if not surpass them. Just take a look at a few of his accomplishments while at Louisville…

    # Engineering U of L's historic move to the Big East Conference, which has a long-term relationship with the lucrative Bowl Championship Series. This is the Cards' second year in the league.

    # Attracting sixth-year men's basketball coach Rick Pitino to U of L, a move many deemed impossible. Pitino's arrival has energized the Cards' tradition-rich program and quickly restored it to a position among the nation's top teams. U of L capped a 33-5 record in 2004-05 by returning to the Final Four for the first time in 19 years.

    # Taking a major step in achieving gender equity, upgrading funding and support staff for existing women's programs while adding four new sports — softball, golf, rowing and lacrosse (in 2008). Jurich's efforts also moved field hockey, women's soccer and baseball to fully-funded programs. He received the Citizens for Sports Equity 2000 Sports Leadership Award and was honored as the Louisvillian of the Year in 2005 by the Louisville Urban League Guild.

    “We want an athletic program that is strong across the board,” said Jurich. “We want all of our sports to have an opportunity to be competitive and win championships. I believe strongly in having a complete athletic department, not just fielding teams that meet prescribed numbers.”

    # Hiring football coach Bobby Petrino. Petrino is the architect of four different teams which led the nation in total offense. He quickly molded U of L into a national force, achieving top 20 national rankings in each of the last three years.

    # Addressing multiple facility needs, including an extensive sports park to serve as a front lawn for the University. Owsley B. Frazier Cardinal Park features Ulmer Stadium (softball), Trager Stadium (field hockey artificial surface field),a soccer field surrounded by a state-of-the-art track, fitness trail, outdoor basketball and sand volleyball courts and a playground. Three new facilities opened in 2005: Jim Patterson Stadium(baseball), Ralph Wright Natatorium and the Trager Center indoor fieldhouse.

    # Strengthening U of L's athletic administration by enlarging the compliance department with the school's first associate athletic director for compliance and adding the school's first female associate athletic director/senior woman administrator.

    # Placing U of L on the cutting edge of sports medicine with a comprehensive partnership with Louisville's world-renowned Jewish Hospital.

    # Bolstering the community outreach arm of U of L athletics, developing CardsCare and CardsFIT to promote student-athlete community involvement.

    # Academic success has risen dramatically during Jurich's watch as well. Honorees on the Commissioner's Honor Roll (cumulative 3.0 GPA or better) rose from 44 in 1996 to 164 in 2005. Those earning recognition on the U of L Athletic Director's Honor Roll (3.0 or better grade point average for a semester) increased to 288 for the 2008 fall semester, a figure which represents half of the total students involved in U of L Athletics

    That's some record and that's not even all of it. ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said this about Tom Jurich after he hired Rick Pitino at Louisville, “They should build a monument to Tom in Louisville”. He would be pricy, but it's time for IU to start doing things right and to stop settling for mediocre, it's time to ante up. If current IU head football coach Bill Lynch was to get fired or was to leave, Jurich could bring in a big name football coach, not to mention the work he could do, renovations, promotions, upgrades, etc. I love Assembly Hall, but it is time for a change, you either live in the past, fall behind further and further, and continue to get mediocre results, or you build for the future, somewhere IU and it's fans haven't been in a long, long time. It's time to wake up and ante up, because believe me when i tell you this, Jurich is the man for the job. Jurich and Crean would be golden, and much better, the athletic department and program as a whole would be instantly upgraded just with his hire. Just imagine what Jurich, Crean and the rest of the people involved in the athletic program could accomplish.

  • MikeinNC

    I would be curious to see someone at IU take an analytical approach to creating the candidate list, something like this:

    Identify the top 20 programs in the NCAA all-sports points rankings over the past 5 years – add to this any teams that have made the biggest jump in this ranking over that time period.
    Identify the top 20 programs in the major revenue producing sports over the 5 years, adding to this list any teams that have made big jumps during that time period.
    Add to this a wildcard list of any mid-majors that have made the biggest jumps in these categories over the past 5 years.

    Then look at the AD and key assistant AD's for those programs. I wonder what that list would look like. I'm sure IU has people much smarter than I working on this, so I am sure this is probably a no-brainer and they are already doing this. ?

  • There's no chance Jurich is coming.

  • hoosierfan27

    Agreed Big A

  • oldfan

    Big A- If not Tom Jurich, do you think it is even possible to hire someone of his ability,and proven track record?

  • iumike

    I, like hoosierkingdom, live very close to U of L and when Jurich was hired one of the first things he done was hire Pitinio. More than just a few people said that he overpaid him by millions and it was not a financially sound decision. But it you spend 2,3 or even 5 million dollars and get a return of 2 or 3 times that (or even more), which is what U of L is getting, it is a good decision, Yes you take a big risk but that is why you pay the big money for the person that makes those kind of decisions. U of L is also reaping the rewards of having a somewhat successful football program. What is the common denominator in both of these…….Jurich!! Think what the reward may be if they become very successful year in and year out which is what will probably happen with Jurich in command. U of L was in the red when Jurich was hired then went in the red even more at first when he came on board but in my opinion that just further shows that if you spend the right amount of money the right way there is a big payback not too far down the road which is excatly what U of L is now reaping. I recently read an article that said that U of L is now one of the top revenue reapers in college sports. I don't think is by shear accident that this happened at the same time that Jurich came on board. Some things, simply put, boil down to “you get what you pay for” which is more true in high profile coaching hires than alot of other things that fall in this category. That having been said it makes even more sense that you spend the money to get the right person who makes those kind of extremely important decisions. There was no shortage of people who said that Pitinio would NEVER come to U of L after coaching at UK………..but MONEY TALKS I don't care who it is. Pitinio was not exactly hurting for money when he took the job he has now.

  • Big A, i know it would be very hard to get Tom Jurich here to IU, because it would cost a lot and we don't even know if he has interest, although rumors have been abound that he's looking around. If your looking for the best man for the job, an A.D. with a proven track record that would be worth the money, Jurich is your man. Now, Chris Reynolds and Harry Gonso and the other candidates mentioned wouldn't be bad hires, but why should IU even take a chance with unproven guys that are only cost effective and “IU guys”. While i don't think Reynolds or Gonso wouldn't be horrible hires, i just don't think they're what we need. The basketball program is in turmoil and has been effectively leveled and the football program is stuck in mediocre mode. I, for one, will not and should not just stay content with mediocre, i mean it's Indiana, we should be shooting for the stars. I don't want Jurich just because he would be a quick fix or anything, but he could get the football program into uncharted territory, which is yearly success, sellout crowds, facility renovations, new innovative ideas, better scheduling, better coaches, etc. On the basketball side, i also believe he could work wonders, possibly a new arena (which is sorely needed, sorry), actual student sections, getting the IU brand out there better, etc. Not to mention, i don't think we would have to worry about this guy, unlike Greenspan, Sampson, Herbert and on and on. The alumni, boosters, and everyone with money involved with the IU program needs to ante up and get the right man, because i believe the upcoming hiring of a new A.D. will be just as important, if not more important than this last hire with Coach Tom Crean, as well as maybe the most important hire in the history of IU, especially when you consider the current shape of the program and what we want in the future. IU, it's all about the benjamins, if you want to get past average, mediocre and predictable results year in and year out, it's time to ante up.

  • jgongora86

    I agree with you 100%. We should always aim for the best and i we don't get him at least we can say we tried through no fault of our own. i think he can do great things for IU, and if donors should be able o pay Coach Crean that much money, somebody should fork over that money for a great AD to make Indiana Athletics great as a whole.

  • sierracoach

    I think Jurich is probably as unrealistic a “get” as Pitino was for Head BB Coach. And I'm not interested in someone simply because he's an “IU guy” or has a law degree–Doninger fit both those requirements and his (& Brand's) tenure wasn't exactly a smashing success. I'd like to see IU pursue someone like Bubba Cunningham or Tom Boeh.

  • HoosierfaninTN

    I agree, we should have hired Jurich when we had the chance. He interviewed for the job but IU would not pay him, they wanted him cheap. IU needs to step up and start paying for talent and proven people and leaders. Not sure if Jurich would leave Uof L but sweetin the pot and he might! We need a guy like Tom Jurich who knows how to run an athletic department. … If not then an IU man would in my opinion be a good move. Someone who cares about Indiana and will take great pride and do things with Indiana University's best long term interest at heart.

  • JerryCT

    I hold no disrespect for Jurich, any other AD or IU alum considered for this job .

    HOOSIERKIINGDOM did a great job making his case for JUrich or the kind of guy we need. Based on that I again conclude we need more of a hands-on CEO and less of an AD.

    Based on the big business and scope of DIV I college athletics we need a person skilled at :

    1. Capital Projects
    2. Marketing
    3. Human Resources mgmt and compliance
    4. Systems ( for budget and compliance control )
    5. Reporting to Oversight Organizations
    6. COmpensation
    7. PR and Crisis Mgmt

    The fact that the focus is an athletics programa is almost immaterial.

    Personally I would look at all candidates through these criterion and if they pass plus they are a successful AD so much the better. They must have knowledge in these areas first and foremost

  • JerryCT

    If we have to be narrowed into experienced AD's then I would consider whoever is the UCONN AD who has managed several large cap projects, operates 2 good Bball programs and is helping build the football program from nothing to bowl games and ND on the schedule ( big bucks ).

  • tberry

    No disrespect meant to JerryCT BUT the list of abilities you put forward, while necessary, need to be honed as an AD. the person with these abilities needs the experience to use these tools in real life athletic situations.

    What you are saying is that a great basketball player need great hand eye coordination, therefore anyone with great hand eye coordination would be a good basketball player. Not true!! There are many great golfers or baseball players that have that ability but that does not mean they could step in and play great basketball. Those skill sets need to be trained to the situation in which they will be use. That is called experience.

    Your skills also neglect the undefinable something that certain individuals have that other very skilled people don't. They are the cream that has risen to the top. We can see their successful results but can't quantify and bottle it. We need a successful AD!

  • flhoosier

    I don't care if its an IU guy but we need someone who has been at a top tier program. No chance we will get Jurich, especially if they won't let him hire his own football coach. Trading Lynch for a top AD seems an easy decision to me. To get a top AD we are going to have to let him hire who he wants for football since the AD won't be able to hire a bball coach, otherwise why would an AD come?

  • junkman

    Jack Harbaugh would also be a name to keep an eye on… His son-in-law is the head basketball coach, his son could be brought in to coach the football program and his experience as an AD would serve the university better than a cheaper alternative like Dolson or Reynolds…

    I like Dolson and Reynolds in their current capacity and think they are doing a great job for the University, but we need someone with experience who isn't afraid to make a tough decision and will make a lasting impact during this rebuilding era…

    Jack Harbaugh can create one of the most unique programs in the nation by bringing in his son Jim to coach the football program and he will not want to make any changes in the basketball department either…this will allow him to concentrate on the facilities issues, maintaining alumni relationship$ and restoring the integrity to a University who is in its darkest hour…

    Louisville's AD is a nice option, but realistically, I think he is not going to leave Louisville without a $ignificant offer…and he may want to wait until the NCAA rulings come out before he even considers any offer…

  • JerryCT

    Sounds like you would add to the list:

    8. Record of results( implied by but not stated in my list )
    9. Charisma, personality, team player, likeable etc

    I think your analogy however misses the point. I am saying that these skills/experience are “fundamental building blocks” for success at the job just like 1. running, 2. jumping, 3. reaction time, 4. height, 5. strength ………etc are for playing basketball well. Just like Hakeem Olajuwon had the physical buildign blocks to learn to play. …………in other words without the ability to do these things well it makes no difference if the guy has athletic dept experience.

  • tberry

    You are correct in that the list needs to be expanded and yes there are necessary abilities that are needed. HOWEVER, the necessary abilities need to be of an exemplary level and they need to be honed by successful experience. The only way to determine if and AD applicant has it all, is to see if he has exhibited it consistently in the past. That is consistent, successful experience doing what you need over time.

    If he has it, go for him. If he shows he has ability but not the experience or track record then he is questionable. He may be wonderful someday but don’t be surprised if you don’t get the same old low bid, mediocre hires that have cost IU time, money and reputation. Let’s not do the same old things and then expect a different result time after time. It is time to do it right and get someone who has shown and proven that he or she has all the abilities needed and knows how to use them successfully.

  • JerryCT

    100% agree.

    I am trying to impress that this job in DIV I is serious and if done right is worthy of a well paid small cap CEO.

    It is no longer effective to hire a figurehead guy like Frank Broyles or Darrel Royal . The job is not so easy that a coach can be elevated to AD as if tcoaching a team gives him all that he needs to know. Greenspan an experienced AD for example appears to have no experience with “monitoring and control systems” and auditing………………………………………….and so here we are.

  • ALH_00

    I like your post, I would just question the “very successful” designation as it relates to Ron Zook. He's a great recruiter, so his teams will always be decent. But, if he was “very successful” at Florida, with the best talent in CFB, he wouldn't have been fired.

  • tberry

    Then I think we agree. Neither a successful coach nor a successful CEO is what is needed. Again we need the a person who has been an experienced successful AD.

    My opinion of Greenspan is that if he had wanted to, he had the skills necessary to set up a effective monitoring system but for what ever reason did not think it was necessary and therefore he did not put effort into it. That lack of judgement was probably evident in his past performance but he was cheaper than Jurich and therefore IU took the low bid option again. IU needs to stop settling and then making excuses and making “Golden Parachute” deals.

    IU needs to put forth a package that will buy IU the best. Look at UL and I'm sure you will see it cost them up front to hire Jurich but it has reaped tremendous positive interest on that investment.

  • tberry

    Maybe “very” was overly descriptive of what I am trying to convey but is certainly open to interpretation by many. I simply want to make the point that simply being “successful” may not adequately reflect the quality that IU needs to look for. Greenspan was probably successful to a degree but Jurich at UL can certainly be portrayed as considerably more successful. I believe that had we hired Jurich when we had the chance he would have had a functioning system in place and probably would not have hired Sampson in the first place.

  • 04031011

    optimist-I think Gonso has been some of the previous problems when he was on the search commitee and board. I think we need a professional AD. We have had amateurs before and look where it got us.


    This job has only one candidate.

    His name is HARRY GONSO.

    For the youngsters in the Hoosier Nation, he would be #16 in the program!

    Take a look back at Harry in action!


    This job has only one candidate.

    His name is HARRY GONSO.

    For the youngsters in the Hoosier Nation, he would be #16 in the program!

    Take a look back at Harry in action!