Thursday, June 05, 2008

Status Report | by Pat

We're a few days into the search for a new athletic director. Let's see where we're at.

First, the University put out an official notice about the search.

The search process for a new director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame has commenced and will follow university policy and process, under the leadership of the University's president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

The process and appointment will comply with the presidential authority policy articulated in the Statement of Board Responsibilities for Intercollegiate Athletics, which was adopted by Notre Dame's Board of Trustees in May 2007. That policy reads in part: "Notre Dame adheres to the principle of presidential control over intercollegiate athletics. The Board (of Trustees) recognizes that the ultimate responsibility and authority for the administration, conduct and control of the Department of Athletics -- including all administrative policies, personnel matters and finances -- are vested in the president of the University."

Prior to making his decision, Fr. Jenkins will seek information, perspectives, and advice from key constituencies.

While there is no specific timetable for completion, the University is advancing the process forward and will be conducting a thorough and extensive search. Interim athletics director Missy Conboy has assumed all responsibilities and will remain in place until a new director is named.

Until the announcement of a new athletics director, the details of the search will remain confidential and discretion and privacy of the candidates will be upheld by the University.

The initial list of candidates that popped up on most of the media's radar have started to respond to varying degrees. So far the only ADs to state that they aren't leaving their current jobs are Ohio State AD Gene Smith and Cal AD Sandy Barbour.

Steve Orsini's public statement from Monday was more in line with the usual "no comment", but never denied interest in the job. Other candidates, such as MAC Commish Rick Chryst have yet to discuss the matter with the media.

A few other names have been mentioned, such as Chicago Bulls GM John Paxson, but for the most part that is still sticking to the "Notre Dame alumni in athletics" motif. One article that did offer up a more unique name opined about the availability of Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione.
Castiglione didn't make either the Tribune or Blue and Gold lists. But his accomplishments at OU since 1998 have placed him on the short list at several schools in recent years, including Notre Dame. Irish officials contacted Castiglione before White was hired in 2001, but he declined to interview because he felt he hadn't been at OU long enough.

Sources confirm that Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee are a few of the other schools that have inquired about Castiglione's interest in recent years. Football is king at all those schools, and Castiglione's national reputation skyrocketed when Bob Stoops won a national championship at OU just two years after Castiglione took a chance on someone with no head-coaching experience.

Castiglione's admiration for Notre Dame is well known. A few months ago, there was speculation that White would become commissioner of the Pac-10 Conference when Tom Hansen retires and Castiglione would replace him in South Bend.
Castiglione's mention could very well just be the product of a local journalist talking up area names, but at the same time Castiglione does have an impressive resume and if ND made a run at him before, they might do so again.

Of course, it wouldn't be a high profile Notre Dame job search without google stalking the Notre Dame jet. A few days ago the Flyin' Irish left South Bend for Dallas, which has fueled rumors about an interview with SMU AD Steve Orsini. There is likely another explanation for the flight, but where's the fun in that?

Speaking of Orsini, Eric Hansen has a solid piece of analysis in the SBT about some of the challenges that face ND's next AD and brings back up an Orsini quote about his days on campus with Charlie Weis.
"He's a good friend," Orsini said of Weis. "He lived in my dorm, Flanner Hall, and after football was over and we finally had a life in the spring semester of our senior year. We formed a softball team. Charlie was our third baseman, and we ended up winning the campus championship."
I hope and expect that the powers that be don't give their friendship much weight when it comes to weighing candidates, but if Orsini is indeed the choice it makes for a good storyline.

One last thing, unlike the last coaching search where the pool of Notre Dame alumni candidates was rather limited, it's a bit surprising just how many Domers are out there running athletic departments. Not that the new AD needs to have that ND sheepskin, but it's nice knowing there are so many options with that particular line on the ol' resume. In addition to a conference commissioner in Rick Chryst, senior associate AD at WSU in Bob Minnix, and new interim AD Missy Conboy, the list is a longer one than I would have guessed. To wit: Steve Orsini - SMU, Joel Maturi - Minnesota, Larry Williams - Portland, Dan Coonan - Santa Clara, Gene Smith - Ohio State, Bubba Cunningham - Tulsa, and Mike Bobinski - Xavier. Not too shabby.