Coaches critique 1st two candidates

By Jim Wozniak

After a day off from public forums, the athletic director scenario resumes today when Minnesota Assistant AD Gerald O’Dell has his chance to address NIU, but the interviews so far have not gone unnoticed.

O’Dell’s public forum is from 2-3:30 p.m. in Holmes Student Center 506. Vedral said comments to the committee about the candidates are welcome but must be submitted to her by Thursday.

One of the main features of the athletic director candidates’ trips to DeKalb has been meetings with the coaches.

Wrestling coach Ed Vatch attended the public forum and coach, staff and secretary meetings for both Russ Sloan, Fresno (Calif.) Chamber of Commerce executive director, and Michigan Assistant AD Mike Palmisano. Those meetings totaled about six hours, but Vatch said it is still difficult to have a total picture of the candidates.

“Both have unique characteristics that can benefit us,” he said. “One thing I do like about Sloan is he’s a salesman. I think as far as him (Palmisano) marketing and putting people in the stands for football and basketball, he would be a good guy. I like his idea about bumper stickers and communication.”

Men’s basketball coach Jim Rosborough said, “It’s very obvious he’s (Sloan) been around athletics. The thing I was listening for was that he would take this job with proper commitment from the president. I thought he made it fairly clear that he had to be out in the public; yet, he would not be out of touch with the department.

“I thought he (Palmisano) had some good things to say—knows what’s going on. He seemed a little nervous or whatever. I think he’s been involved—even though it’s at Michigan—in the external things: building facilities, promotion, fundraising. He’s been in a quality program. I don’t know what kind of responsibilities he’s had, but he’s been around good people.

“In my opinion, we don’t necessarily need the best guy of the three, but the best guy for Northern Illinois,” Rosborough said. “It affects a lot of lives. This is maybe the most crucial decision in Northern Illinois athletic history. We can’t afford to stub our toe. If everybody’s not a little bit nervous, then something’s the matter.”

Softball coach Dee Abrahamson said she viewed Sloan as more of a fundraiser and Palmisano as more of an administrator.

An athletic department source said the women’s coaches favor Sloan over the other two candidates.

Rosborough said fieldhouse personnel have expressed concern that Sloan will be another Lee Corso. Corso coached the football team for nine games before being let out of his contract and moving to the United States Football League.

Sloan has had five different jobs in the 1980s, the longest being a three-year stint as AD at Fresno State. An NIU source already has said Sloan has taken credit for movements that might not have been his doing.

Men’s basketball player Rodney Davis, another committee member, said he was unable to attend the three meetings where the committee reduced the application list from about 60 to the three because of classes. He said Rosborough tried to have the meetings rearranged so he could participate but was unsuccessful.

Davis said the committee has kept him abreast through the mail of what has happened. He said he has had no input into the selections, which he said bothers him, but Rosborough told him not to worry about it—that classes are more important.

Committee Chairman Nancy Vedral said the other student committee members, LeAnne Rossi and Todd Kuzma, have attended the meetings.

Men’s Athletic Director Robert Brigham, whose administrative future is uncertain, said Saturday he has discussed his situation with NIU President John LaTourette. Brigham said LaTourette has indicated he would have an NIU job until he retires in two years.

Brigham has received LaTourette’s recognition on two occasions. At the Sept. 9 Athletic Board meeting, LaTourette explained the need for a new AD but said he did not want the move to reflect badly on NIU’s athletic administrators, “some of whom have been around for more than 40 years.” LaTourette also lavished praise on Brigham at the Hall of Fame inductions, where Brigham received a standing ovation.