Commentary: After much change and confusion, FAU AD job no longer is attractive

Ryan Cortes

Ryan Cortes

The Timeline:

Oh, how much has changed. With FAU athletics now in a constant state of turnover, the last four months have included a fired AD, an angry women’s basketball coach who departed and much more.

In the funhouse world of Athletics, try this on for discomfort:

Dec 5, 2011: Athletic Director Craig Angelos hires Carl Pelini to be the 2nd football coach in school history. Angelos was a 1-man committee in charge of unearthing Howard Schnellenberger’s replacement.

March 21, 2012: Angelos is fired by President Mary Jane Saunders. The UP reported the firing came about because of Angelos’s lack of ability in securing naming rights for FAU stadium and poor ticket sales. Melissa Dawson is named interim AD.

March 29, 2012: Dawson announces that women’s basketball coach Chancellor Dugan has declined a one-year extension, ending her 13 year run as the team’s coach. Dugan tweets out “Ppl that know me know I NEVER ‘quit’. I will always have fond memories of FAU….#Keepitclassy”, while Dawson says a new women’s basketball coach will be named before the new AD is hired. “Yeah,” Dawson told me this week. “you can’t pretend that’s not a concern of a coach coming in, you know, who their leadership is going to be.”

March 31, 2012: FAU posts an ad on the NCAA’s website for its AD position, looking for applications.

April 2, 2012: Owlaccess.com reports that Saunders has named her five-person committee in charge of finding the next AD: Charles Brown (dean of students), Eric Shaw (an FAU marketing professor), Justin Davis (a former FAU basketball player, current graduate assistant), April Turner (SG vice president elect), and Saunders.

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Well, would you want it?

FAU is in the process of hiring a new Athletic Director. Sounds simple enough. Except, the people in charge of finding that man, know precious little about management in Athletics. Still, after the complaints lobbed at former AD Craig Angelos — weak ticket sales, no naming rights and poor relationships with coaches — a new hire makes some sense. “I think we need somebody who can fundraise and market our programs,” Melissa Dawson said. “I think that’s an area we can definitely do better.”

The problem?

The university may have cleaned to much house. See, while there was reason enough to let Angelos go, the timing was still odd. “I wouldn’t lie, it took me at least a day to get over the shock,” Dawson said. “Just a surprise, I’ve worked here for Craig for seven, eight years, so the idea he wouldn’t be here leading the program — I had to do a double take.” He was in charge, by himself, of finding a new football coach. No one else in the entire department spent as much time evaluating, judging, observing Carl Pelini. No one believed in him more than Angelos.

No matter. No more.

The most difficult part in finding a new AD now, though, may be in how the job is packaged and sold to prospective hires. That is because the next hire will inherit the following: a new football coach, a new women’s basketball coach, and a fuming men’s basketball coach with a contract set to expire shortly — a man who wants and deserves a new contract.

It’s an almost impossible position to be in. If Pelini and the new women’s basketball coach (and, presumably) Mike Jarvis all succeed in a big way, guess who isn’t getting credit for it?

As John F. Kennedy said in 1961: “There’s an old saying that victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan.” So if it blows up in the new guy’s face, if the football team stumbles and bumbles its way toward another losing season, and whomever is hired to replace Dugan loses big to go alongside another poor men’s basketball season, guess who gets all the blame for it?

There’s no longer enough power available in the job to make it attractive. Regardless of how Pelini does in year one, it’d be uncommon and unexpected for him to be fired. And in a South Florida where football, both collegiate and professional, has always reigned supreme, the new AD will have to live with the fact they can’t make changes to the most important position. Not for a while.

Not to mention, Kore White, Ray Taylor, Omari Grier, Shavar Richardson and Alex Tucker are all gone from the men’s basketball team as the doors to leave FAU keep getting pushed open and pushed with more anger, more players.

So here’s where it gets interesting.

Ridding itself of Angelos may or may not have been the right move. We’ll see. But the implication in firing him was that, well, things couldn’t get any worse.

But without any attractive qualities to the job, without big money to dole out (Angelos pulled in $192,456 per year, compared with Peter Garcia, at FIU, who takes in $421,116 per year, according to the Sun Sentinel), and without any more leverage — they’re about to get even worse.

[Mike Jarvis was unavailable for comment as of press time. Craig Angelos declined comment for this story.]