Next AD to be senior level, at the least

Next AD to be senior level, at the least

Give us your AD here

URBANA — The next University of Illinois athletic director will be a senior-level athletic administrator, if not an athletic director already, the chairman of the search committee said Thursday.

And while the search will be national in scope, Larry DeBrock said he's not afraid to tap an official at another Big Ten school to replace Ron Guenther, who announced his retirement Monday.

The ideal candidate is someone with "senior-level administrative experience at an athletics operation," said DeBrock, dean of the UI College of Business.

"We're looking for the best person," DeBrock said. The committee can't "strong-arm anybody," but if somebody from another Big Ten school is actively interested, "we'll be happy to talk to them."

Asked about the committee's timeline, he said, "the quicker the better."

With all its members now in place, the search committee is set to meet for the first time next week.

All nine members announced Thursday by the chancellor's office — three professors, two coaches, three athletic administrators and a UI graduate — have ties to the UI Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.

The three faculty members all serve on the UI's athletic board: Cleo D'Arcy, emeritus professor of crop sciences; Chris Span, professor of educational policy, organization and leadership; and Matt Wheeler, professor of animal sciences.

Wheeler chaired the UI athletic board from 1999-2002 and is one of the UI's faculty representatives to the Big Ten Conference. He also chairs the UI Senates Conference, a faculty senate group that represents all three campuses and advises UI President Michael Hogan.

Members from the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics are Steve Greene, director of development and a former UI football player; Associate Director Vince Ille, who oversaw compliance issues for years; Associate Director Susan Young, who is in charge of budgeting and is the senior woman administrator in the department; wrestling head coach Jim Heffernan; and Susan Novitsky, head coach of women's swimming.

Palatine businessman Bob Falato, a member of the UI athletic board, will also serve on the 10-member committee. A 1983 UI business graduate, he is senior vice president of Northern Trust Corp. in Chicago and an expert in the area of fixed-income securities.

DeBrock was announced as chairman of the committee earlier this week.

Guenther, UI athletic director for 19 years, plans to retire July 1.

While not on the search committee, Guenther will be a good "resource" as the search moves ahead, DeBrock said.

Head coaches Bruce Weber and Ron Zook will also have an opportunity to give input on potential candidates, said UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler. They were not named to the committee in part because of their tight schedules but also because of concerns that their high profile could compromise efforts to keep the search confidential, she said.

"Sometimes their presence could make things difficult," Kaler said.

Noting Ille's background in compliance, she said the chancellor wanted to keep a focus on "integrity" in the department.

The UI decided not to hire a search firm but may consult outside help for vetting and other services if needed, Kaler said.

"The goal is to do as much work internally as possible," she said.

DeBrock said he has no working list of candidates yet, as the position is still being advertised.

"I haven't reached out to anybody. I have received a lot of unsolicited comments, some from candidates and some from people who have an opinion," DeBrock said.

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jje1223 wrote on May 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm

University of Louisville's AD Tom Jurich

coryfor3 wrote on May 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Jim Phillips, Northwestern

peterborich wrote on May 21, 2011 at 9:05 am

Gene Smith, Ohio State. Let's Smell..er, Operate... Like the Big Boys