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Rierson says Big East jump won’t hinder AD replacement

With Lee Roy Selmon resigning as athletic director last Thursday, the 10-member search committee appointed by USF is faced with the challenge of finding a replacement to lead USF into the Big East in 2005.

Michael Rierson, vice president for university advancement and interim co-director of athletics while the search is being conducted, said the conference switch is not necessarily a great challenge for the future AD, however, because the change in conference brings new opportunities.

“USF is a unique institution. It’s on the verge of moving into the Big East, a new conference with new opportunities,” Rierson said. “I think (the new conference) makes it easier on everyone (including the athletic director), because it is a chance to build new relationships.”

Hinks Shimberg, USF Foundation board chairman, will chair the search committee. Shimberg told The Tampa Tribune that he was confident the search would draw a large number of applicants, ensuring the best person for the job would be found.

Rierson said the best person for the position is one who maintains high academic standards.

“The most important part of ‘student-athlete’ is the word ‘student’,” Rierson said. “We need someone who understands the value of higher education, someone who will follow our lead as a strong, clean, well-organized, well-financed, forward-thinking program.”

Provost Renu Khator will also serve on the committee. She agreed that the most important attribute in finding a new AD would be the ability to maintain high academic standards. Khator served as interim provost until she was named provost in February after a nationwide search. Khator said an extensive search is still necessary, even if an internal candidate is promoted to the position.

“We have to do a nationwide search because it is a very, very important position and we have to find a person who understands athletics and athletics’ role at an academic institution,” she said.

USF has not yet decided if a search firm will be involved in the process. According to the Tribune, USF paid $15,000 to Carr Sports Associates in 2001 to conduct a search for a new deputy AD. Carr Sports Associates recommended Corey Johnson, and USF hired him. Johnson resigned from the position after USF learned he was forced to resign as Colorado State’s AD in 1993.

Rierson said the search would be funded entirely by private money, with no state money being used. He also said USF is “willing to pay market rate for the best talent” available.

According to a 2002 survey of the nation’s athletic directors, the average Big East AD made $244,222. Selmon made $165,400 last year.

The Tribune, citing sources at universities across the country, listed some possible candidates: athletic directors Richard Giannini (Southern Miss), Wayne Hogan (Montana), Mike O’Brien (Toledo) and Doug Woolard (Saint Louis); associate ADs Richard Konzem (Kansas), Dave Martin (Oklahoma State), Chris May (Colorado), Ed Stewart (Missouri), Brian Teter (Cincinnati) and Butch Worley (Texas); and former USF associate AD Michael Kelly, now president of the Super Bowl XXXIX Host Committee.

Rierson and interim co-director of athletics Carl Carlucci both told the Tribune they had “absolutely” no interest in the AD position. Two of the most viable internal candidates, senior associate AD Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy and associate AD Barry Clements, would not say whether they were interested in the position or not. In addition to Rierson, Khator, Shimberg and Carlucci, the 10-member search committee will include community business leaders.