Thursday, June 19, 2008
After considering all of the candidates for a couple of weeks, and reading everything I could get my hands on about the potential candidates out there right now, I am finally prepared to endorse a candidate for Athletics Director at the University of Notre Dame: Steve Orsini, currently at Southern Methodist University.
The straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, was this article about the hiring of June Jones at SMU.
Southern Methodist was the first and only recipient of the NCAA's feared "death penalty" back in the 1980s, and has not been any type of contender since, with only one winning season since (6-5 in 1997). The hiring of June Jones constituted a major paradigm shift at SMU - hiring an elite coach and paying him as if you were already a top 25 program. And to fund this bold move, Orsini personally put together a group of alums to pay the salary.
That kind of drive and vision is exactly what this athletics department needs. Kevin White was a great administrator that did many wonderful things for Notre Dame athletics. However, he never seemed to engage some of the University's most powerful tools - namely, its tradition and history, and wealthy and dedicated alumni network. Orsini managed to do this at a program that had been dead for over 20 years, reinvigorating the entire program.
This is the type of vision that will find a way to make an Alabama - Notre Dame series fit into the NBC contract and current scheduling commtiments. The type of vision that will ensure that every hire is an upgrade, and that every facility is top notch. The type of vision and leadership that can bring all of Notre Dame athletics - not just football - back to the apogee of collegiate athletics. He can bring the Notre Dame basketball team back to the Final Four, and restore Notre Dame's place at the pinnacle of college football. He can build on the solid foundation that Kevin White has laid and take this university to the next level.