AD needs freedom to make decisions

The NIU Athletic Department might have taken the turn last week that will point it in the direction of the light at the end of the tunnel.

At a Thursday press conference, NIU President John LaTourette named Gerald O’Dell to the department’s athletic director post.

The move came after more than a year of turmoil within NIU athletics that saw a conference withdrawl, internal team disarray and the loss, through transfer, of one of the best athletes ever to set foot on campus.

For some time, it has seemed the NIU Athletic Department was headed further and further into the depths of obscurity.

Fortunately, LaTourette took charge and organized an extensive review of the department, both internally and externally. Review commitees spent a good deal of time investigating every aspect of the department and developing plans to save it from self destruction.

All of this culminated when O’Dell stood behind the podium and faced a large crowd Thursday as the university’s new athletic director. And none of it came a moment too soon.

opefully, O’Dell will be met with open arms by the entire department and will be given free reign to snap things back in line.

There is little doubt the department needs a fresh face with new ideas if NIU athletics are to prosper. And from what O’Dell has said so far, there is hope things might finally be back on track.

In addition, LaTourette has indicated O’Dell will be given every opportunity to run the department in whatever way he sees fit—there will be little, if any, interference from NIU’s top brass. In fact, LaTourette seems willing to bend over backwards to accomodate O’Dell.

opefully, that will be a policy that sticks throughout O’Dell’s tenure here. The new athletic director will need all the free space available in order to take what exists in the department and forge it into a top-notch program.

Certainly, NIU athletics have been less than perfect in recent years. Every branch of the department has had its share of problems. However, the department has a new engineer to guide it out of the darkness.

All we can do now is sit back and see if O’Dell has the ability to get the job done.