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The Univ. of Texas has "hired the services of executive search firm Korn/Ferry Int'l for $200,000, plus expenses, to assist in its nationwide search" for a new AD, according to Kirk Bohls of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. The money "will be paid out of the athletic budget." Korn/Ferry "assisted the Big 12 in its recent hunt for a commissioner." West Virginia AD Oliver Luck, who is "considered to be a leading candidate for the position," has declined to comment. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione and TCU AD Chris Del Conte "have all declined to show interest." Bowlsby has been "adamant in his insistence that he is not leaving his job" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 10/11). YAHOO SPORTS' Pat Forde writes it became apparent on Thursday that Louisville "would keep its prized athletic director, Tom Jurich." Sources said that Jurich is "committed to" the school and is not a candidate for the UT AD job "or any other AD job." A source said, "He wants to stay with (Louisville president) Jim Ramsey." With Jurich "off the board, there is speculation Texas would look within the Big 12 conference," and Luck's name "has been mentioned." Castiglione "could be an attractive candidate, but changing sides in that rivalry would be dicey politically" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/11).
NEW BLOOD: In Dallas, Brad Townsend writes UT President Bill Powers' plan to hire a new AD before the end of the football season "signals significant change for perhaps the highest-profile, most stable athletic program of the past 15 years." But that is "only part of what makes this a defining moment for the university." It is "clear that Longhorn sports are on the precipice of a new era, but the spectrum of possibility ranges from transition to philosophical tweaks to upheaval." Powers said, "Anytime somebody comes in new, they bring fresh ideas. I think that’s healthy for an institution." He added that he "probably will form a group of advisers, consisting of alumni and Board of Regents athletic liaisons Steve Hicks and Robert Stillwell, to assist the AD search." Though Powers has "hiring authority as university president, he stressed that it will be a collaborative process" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/11).
Texas A&M in its second year of SEC membership has "taken full advantage of establishing its brand, not only regionally, but nationally," according to Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com. While the exposure that comes with being in the SEC "helps, winning football games helps quite a bit too." It appears the school "has been successful" in changing the way it is perceived, "especially on the football side of things." Coach Kevin Sumlin "helped change the culture around A&M football in several ways," including "changing the team entrance to add music and smoke as the team comes out of the tunnel before home games." Texas A&M Senior Associate AD/External Affairs Jason Cook said of Sumlin, "He's very plugged in helping shape how we want to present Texas A&M. I think he really has a pulse on the things that are important to Texas A&M, but also the things that he can tweak around the edges." The football program has its own website and "social content hub" called "AggieFBLife." The website, run by FusionSports, helps "provide a unique, insider view into Texas A&M football." Players are "documented by a videographer that has complete access to all aspects of A&M football and the initiative is unique for a major college football program" (ESPN.com, 10/9).
PIECE OF THE ACTION: ESPN.com’s Khan noted Texas A&M “will sell pallets of the natural grass playing surface” at Kyle Field. The grass will be “removed at the conclusion of this season as part of the Kyle Field redevelopment project.” The pallets “will go for $400 apiece, while a limited number of single grass squares will be available for $20 each” (ESPN.com, 10/10).
UMass' original agreement with Gillette Stadium required its football team to "play a minimum of four of its in-season home games in Foxboro" from '14-16, but the parties "changed things for next year, and UMass will have three games on campus and three at Gillette," according to Bob McGovern of the BOSTON HERALD. UMass will play "both Boston College and Colorado at Gillette, with a third in-conference game to be determined later." Gillette Stadium Dir of Events Phil Buttafuoco and UMass AD John McCutcheon said that the change "had to do with scheduling." With some "awkward dates, both felt that an extra on-campus game would help attendance." McCutcheon added that the 3-3 split is set for '14 only, and things "could change down the line based on scheduling arrangements." McCutcheon and Buttafuoco both said that the partnership "has been a positive experience." UMass during the '12 season "averaged 10,901 fans per game." This year has "gone a little better, as the Minutemen are averaging 16,022 in two home dates." Buttafuoco said, "It’s about where we thought it would be. It’s certainly a work in progress. We’re sitting here in New England with a culture that doesn’t follow college football as closely as other parts of the country. So, that culture needs to change." UMass and Gillette are "working to improve the game-day experience in Foxboro through events and ticket deals" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/11).
MOVING ON UP: In Augusta, David Lee noted Georgia Southern Univ.'s move to FBS has been "met with a mixed response." But AD Tom Kleinlein on Wednesday said that it is "about more than just the ability to play football at a higher level." All athletic programs, "except soccer, would play in the Sun Belt Conference beginning in 2014, and the football team would be eligible for a bowl game as soon as 2015." Kleinlein said, "Our job is to get people interested in Georgia Southern University through the games we play and the competitions we have and stories we tell. Now, we're able to do that on a stage we've never been able to before." As part of the move, GSU is "expanding Paulson Stadium to add 6,300 seats and build a new football operations center." Kleinlein said that the timetable for completing the expansion "is close to being on time after experiencing a wet summer." They "remain on track for finishing in late June or July" (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 10/10).