Owens unhappy about not being a candidate

By Tom Clegg

Long-time NIU faculty member Walt Owens said he was disappointed because he was not granted an interview for the open associate athletic director’s position despite his wide-spread support from other NIU faculty and beyond.

Owens, a former NIU baseball coach and assistant basketball coach and current assistant physical education professor and member of the NIU Athletic Board, said he received recommendations from such notables as Michigan football coach Bo Schemblechler, Indiana and former NIU football coach Bill Mallory and John McLendon, understudy to basketball’s inventor Dr. James Naismith.

“I was asked to apply by a lot of people,” Owens said. “I kept putting it off and finally I said, ‘OK.'”

“It’s like going up to bat and being 0-for-4,” Owens said of the feeling he got when he discovered he was not under consideration for the position. “Schembechler was the one who called to tell me (I would not be getting interviewed).”

NIU Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell, who said Thursday the associate AD spot had been filled, was not available for comment yesterday. He is on vacation until Monday.

“Normally, if a person is on campus, it doesn’t cost anything to bring him in for an interview,” Owens said. “I didn’t think my credentials were that bad.”

Owens said he heard O’Dell had hired one of “his guys” from Minnesota, where O’Dell had served as director of promotions and marketing before coming to NIU Jan. 1. Owens also expressed concern about O’Dell’s hiring practices.

“You have to have people from the community to show you the ropes,” Owens said. The former NIU coach said O’Dell has alienatied many of the NIU faculty and boosters over the same issue.