Alluring situation for Athletic Director
Opportunity. With every new era comes an abundance of opportunity. Here at AU, we are about to embark upon a new era, under a new athletic director. Tom George's successful tenure is history and AU prepares for a new AD to take over the Patriot League program. Before we look to the future, let's focus on what we have now: Both the Men's and Women's Basketball teams are on the cusp of NCAA Tournament appearances. The Men's Soccer team has struggled this year, but is young and has a very promising future. Both Cross Country teams, Lacrosse, Women's Soccer and Men's Tennis return this year as defending PL champions. The new AD will enter with a promising core to work with. However, there's always room for improvement. Here is one AU fan's opinion on what the new AD needs to have to achieve success in league play and beyond. Experience This is always the argument, experience versus youth. Because many of AU's coaches have achieved success on their own, the new AD's biggest challenge will be stimulating fan interest. Thus, the new AD must have experience turning programs around and dealing with college-aged students. While the argument can be made that a young AD would breathe new life into the program, so would an established person with an impressive resume and previous success. Guts Whoever takes over must be willing to take chances and risk a little bit up front for the future gain. George's ideas of Phil Bender days and bus trips to important road games may not have paid off with overwhelming success, but there's no doubt that they increased support, if only for a day. The new AD must continue this and expand, adding promotions and gimmicks to get people in the stands. AU sports are a great product, and if fans would come once, they would come back again and again. Thus, an AD who can attract a big crowd up front will gain in the long run. Commitment AU won't lead the league in attendance this year, and maybe not even next year. We may not make any NCAA Tournament appearances, and we could lose every game we play. Regardless, the athletic director must stay committed to this program. AU is a rising national power in several sports, and it coincides with the increasing respect and popularity the University is getting as a whole. A successful athletics department will only add to the appeal of AU on a national level. Whoever inherits the post must work with what we have here and add to a solid core. The Screaming Eagles are an impressive fan base that truly care about AU sports. If the new AD can attract interest in the programs on campus, recruits will be more apt to come play in front of 5,000 people than in front of 500. And with increased numbers of recruits come more wins. The road is long and even winding at times, but the athletic director post here at AU is a dream job. Many of the programs have coaches on long-term contracts who have established success on a national level. The facilities are top-notch, the athletes are young and hungry and the student body is filled with potential. While it will be a challenge, AU storming onto the national scene is upon us. All anyone could ask for is an opportunity. And whoever the new AD is will have the opportunity of a lifetime. My advice to AU President Benjamin Ladner and his staff searching for George's replacement: Find an individual with experience, guts and commitment, and someone who has a passion for this job. Bring him or her to AU and the Eagles will be flying high in no time.