Volume 4, Issue 3 University of Houston
Maggard not the right choice for athletic director
Simply said, 2001 was not a good year for the UH athletic department.
The school's athletic director, Chet Gladchuk abandoned ship for the stormier waters of the U.S. Naval Academy.
After the best recruiting class since the first Reagan administration, the football team went winless for the first time in school history, including losses to rivals Rice and Texas at Robertson Stadium.
Even Robertson had its problems. "Bleachergate" -- a nationally televised fiasco that saw almost 4,000 empty bleacher seats that were deemed unsafe by President Arthur K. Smith tarnished an athletic department that once was as proud as a pack of lions.
But now it's 2002, and things are looking up -- well, kind of. The men and women's basketball programs are a combined 15-8 heading into conference play. The baseball team is a year older and a year better.
And now Smith has placed Dave Maggard in charge of the department. Maggard has a nice resume, including stints at the same position at the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Miami. His other accomplishments are impressive as well. He was the vice president of sports administration at Turner Sports/Time Warner. He is a former Olympian. Simply said, Maggard has been a winner everywhere he has gone -- the only problem is that he's 61 years old.
Granted, he has plenty of experience with more than 20 years as an AD at Berkeley and Miami, but how long will Maggard want to be foreman of this reclamation project? He is signed for five years at $250,000 per year, with numerous incentives including cars and a country club membership for he and his wife. But will that be enough to rescue this damsel in distress?
Maggard's legacy will be judged on a few key issues: Attendance and winning in the "moneymaker" sports, men's basketball and football and reducing the athletic department's deficit. His track record says Maggard can -- he won the national championship at Miami in 1991 and he garnered a $6 million surplus at Berkeley. But his future says he won't be here long enough to see his harvest bloom.
Smith, who is under contract until 2003, should have hired a younger candidate to replace Gladchuk. One that would have been hungry to leave an indelibly positive mark in Cougar athletics. Smith had a candidate that fit that role, Cougar alumnus Mike Pede, who is currently the marketing director at Rice.
Everyone who supports Cougar athletics should realize by now that a quick fix will not fix anything (anyone remember Clyde Drexler?). Maggard has the tools and the equipment, but not the youth and energy to get the job done.