(Musings about the comings and goings at Boston College, AKA The Heights)
The elephant in the room at Boston College is the status of Athletic Director Brad Bates. For better or worse–mostly worse for the past year–Bates is the guy in charge of the ship for BC athletics.
Word has it that Bates, in the final year of his contract, has been told that searching for another job would not be frowned upon by the BC administration.
Word also has it that Bates is a contender for the current opening at the University of Missouri, an opening which could be filled by the end of the summer.
Bates is the guy that hired football coach Steve Addazio and men’s basketball coach Jim Christian.
Bates has endured an athletic calendar year in which neither team won an Atlantic Coast Conference game–an embarrassing 0-26 run in which the football clock will resume in Dublin, Ireland on Sept. 3 against Georgia Tech.
He is the guy who has had to serve as the buffer between a shrinking fan base and an administration headed by Father William Leahy, where athletic facilities in the revenue-producing sports are woefully inadequate.
When Bates arrived at The Heights in 2012, his pedigree seemed impressive enough. Michigan education, stops at Vanderbilt and Miami (Ohio) where he was developing into the prototype new age AD, with fund raising and marketing as essential ingredients.
Bates came to a BC campus in which football and basketball were headed in the wrong direction in terms of wins and losses. He fired football coach Frank Spaziani and hired Addazio.
He then took a hard look at the basketball program under Coach Steve Donahue and made a decision to give Donahue one more season to turn the program around. He told Donahue that he had another season left on a Thursday and then a few days later he told him that he didn’t.
Word has it that the decision came from the President’s office.
It didn’t make sense then. It doesn’t make sense now. It made even less sense when the Eagles squandered a legitimate chance to hire Harvard’s Tommy Amaker.
Bates hired Christian, who has not been able to overcome all of the hurdles with administration and facilities that all BC coaches must endure.
After the Donahue firing fiasco, something in Bates changed. He was still personable and affable and optimistic. But he also seemed distant to many of the people who worked with him. He did his job…but…
And then in the past few months, the buzz started to get louder. Bates will begin the fifth year of his contract, but there was no talk of a renewal.
Missouri is hardly the ideal job. Not only are the Tigers missing an AD, they must also hire a new President and Chancellor.
How many ADs would feel comfortable without knowing who their superiors might be?
The tension from a simmering campus-wide situation involving racial discrimination is still bubbling. To many, perhaps including Bates, the Missouri job is regarded as a “No Fly” zone. And why would you go to place where the leadership is uncertain?
Other names for the Missouri job have included ADs at East Carolina, Northern Illinois, and SMU.
The best case scenario is that when Missouri gets the right people in place it will be a great job in a great (SEC) conference with lots of positives.
But the time frame on that is uncertain. And while that is happening, BC and Brad Bates are involved in a relationship which seems tenuous. He is totally committed to BC.
Whether that commitment is returned remains uncertain at best.