The search for a new athletic director at Boston College continues. According to several sources familiar with the process, a new AD could be announced in the next few days and no later than next week.
A large group of names have surfaced, with varying degrees of interest on both sides. The latest name to hit the internet spin cycle on Monday was Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen, who has solid enough credentials as someone who can run football and basketball programs, hire coaches and have the ability to fund raise, all essentials for the next BC AD. Bowen’s resume also includes transferring to Notre Dame as a student, wanting to become a priest, which should earn an extra credit box with the powers that be at The Heights.
In fact, Bowen, who also spent his first year in college at the University of San Diego (Catholic) and worked at Saint Mary’s and the University of California, checks off many of the categories that BC wants in its next athletic director and would seem to be a logical choice.
But according to sources at Memphis and at BC, Bowen was not a finalist.
On Tuesday another candidate emerged. Seton Hall athletic director Patrick Lyons, who is regarded as one of the Big East’s rising stars, was interviewed last week in Atlanta by BC officials. With a New England background (Rhode Island) and a Catholic school pedigree Iona and then Seton Hall and success as a fund raiser, Lyons could be a contender, although there are conflicting reports of whether he made the final cut.
But after watching more than 20 years of drama at BC in terms of hirings and firings, here’s a chilling conclusion.
It doesn’t matter if BC hires Elmer Fudd or Elmer Gantry as the new athletic director. As long as BC President Father William Leahy runs the direction of the athletic department with an iron fist, there will be no major changes or progress made in getting BC out of the swamp of mediocrity and indifference that now exists.
As an elite school in a Power 5 conference with strong academic credentials in a world class city, the job as the AD at BC should be one of the more coveted jobs in college athletics.
It is not.
There is a reason why the list of candidates, who were trimmed to a small group of finalists at interviews in Atlanta last week by the Parker Search firm and the BC search committee, did not include a single AD from a Power 5 conference school.
BC is not only among the bottom feeders in the Atlantic Coast Conference in success on the field in football and basketball the past few years, it is even lower in facilities and fund raising.
While BC strives–and succeeds–to be like fellow ACC schools such as Duke, Virginia and Georgia Tech in academic excellence, it has failed to achieve any type of consistency in football or basketball–the two primary revenue producing sports–for nearly a decade.
It is easy to place the blame game at lower levels in the hirings and firings of coaches. Ponder this question. If you compared the basketball and football coaches at an Ivy League school such as Harvard –Tommy Amaker and Tim Murphy–to an ACC school such as BC–Jim Christian and Steve Addazio–who would you choose?
BC athletics is now at the lowest stage possible–indifference from the fan base. Changes need to be made in the way BC does its athletic business. There are too many sports, with too few people, stretched too thin to manage them. And there isn’t enough room on campus.
In short, it is not a good athletic situation at almost every level.
Money needs to be spent on improving facilities in not only football–approved–but basketball and even hockey.
Why BC has baseball, which must deal with lack of interest, horrible New England spring weather and an over-matched situation–last season’s NCAA tournament run was a pleasant and unexpected aberration-as its prime spring sport instead of lacrosse is mind-boggling.
BC doesn’t even offer lacrosse–which almost everyone agrees could thrive–as one of its 31 varsity sports.
In fairness to BC, there is a small group of backers on the Board of Trustees and elsewhere, who want to not only revamp the athletic department, but rebuild it–WITHOUT the final decisions made by Father Leahy, who has been running the show at BC for 20 years.
The dilemma that those critics face is that in almost every other phase of BC operations, Father Leahy has done a superb job. Fundraising is up, the school has expanded its New England, working class student profile to a national scope of white collar future business leaders.
Not so much in athletics.
But with a high graduation rate, no major scandals and the comfort of collecting a large pay check (in excess of $25 million each year) there is no sense of urgency to put the money back into athletics. Why fix what doesn’t seem to be broken in the big picture of the BC image?
Look a little deeper and the empty stands, the lack of fundraising and the horrible competitive records and the picture is much bleaker.
Despite a steady stream of chatter that Father Leahy is contemplating his retirement, there is no sense of that from his actions. At a Board of Trustee meeting in Florida last month in which the plan to hire a replacement for outgoing (contract not renewed) AD Brad Bates, Father Leahy told the Board the ground rules, which would end with HIS choice of the new athletic director.
The meetings in Atlanta–presumably at the Parker Search Company headquarters–provided a list of finalists who BC loyalists say contain quality contenders.
With Easter weekend approaching and no clear cut favorite, no decision or announcement is expected until the middle of next week.
And, the choice may be a main stream candidate, who is indeed well qualified, or an outside the box pick such as former Red Sox and NFL official Mike Dee or perhaps a coordinator from a Power 5 conference school looking to make the next step up a career ladder. Or it could be a rising star such as Lyons, although there is no college football in his pedigree.
But the harsh reality of the situation is that the next AD at BC seems destined to be a modern day version of Sisyphus–”a legendary king of Cornith condemned to repeatedly roll a heavy rock up a hill in Hades only to have it roll down as it nears the top.”
An even darker picture would seem to be that as long as the current leader
ship remains in place at BC, getting the rock even near the top seems unlikely.