Following the chaos of the Bill O’Brien NFL rumors, there was rampant speculation amongst Penn Staters that one of the “structural changes” desired by BOB would be the naming of a permanent Director of Athletics, and that the search would begin in earnest. Today, Penn State announced that David Joyner is staying on as full time AD through the end of Rodney Erickson’s term as President of the University. A search for Joyner’s replacement will take place at that time. Erickson had previously announced that he would retire at the end of June, 2014 when his contract retires, and PSU plans to have a replacement in place. If the University is able to find their new President prior to that time, Erickson is prepared to step down earlier.
While I am sure this news was not greeted with much more than a groan from Nittany Lions fans, it is important to understand the position the school is currently in. Erickson has already announced his departure date, and the search for his replacement is ongoing. Put yourself in a potential candidates position. You are interviewing to run one of the largest athletic departments in the country, at what we will call a tumultuous time in its history. Your boss, the University President, has already said he’s gone 18 months from now. Do you take that job? An Athletic Director is essentially the head of a multimillion dollar corporation, with significant responsibilities, and expectations. In much the same way a Fortune 500 CEO wants assurances from his boss (usually a Board, or Chairman) that there is some stability, I would suspect any AD candidate would desire the same. Knowing your boss is leaving next year isn’t exactly the kind of situation most candidates are itching to jump into.
Yes, I want Erickson and Joyner to move on as soon as possible. That’s another topic for another day, but that moment will be another big step in “moving forward”, as PSU reminds us we need to do. But I also want my alma mater to fill both roles with the best possible candidates. That cannot happen in the case of the AD, until the next University President is hired.
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