Correct AD choice necessity to NIU athletics

The NIU athletic department has been given a major opportunity to improve itself, an opportunity which it should not waste.

The university is deep in the process of choosing a new athletic director to head both men’s and women’s athletics. The decision of who gets the job will be either a big turning point or a roadblock to the athletic program.

Executive Director of Fresno (Calif.) Chamber of Commerce, Russ Sloan, Michigan’s assistant athletic director Mike Palmisano and Minnesota’s assistant athletic director Gerald O’Dell are the three candidates left in the chase. One of the three could be NIU’s new AD by the end of the week.

Palmisano and Sloan have already fielded questions from open forums at the Holmes Student Center, and O’Dell is set to be quizzed Wednesday.

The winner will enter the scene confronted with somewhat of a rebuilding job. At the moment, the athletic program is definitely not a powerhouse, but it isn’t at rock bottom either.

One thing is certain, though—the NIU athletic department needs help. And what the program needs is someone with big ideas and the resources to see these dreams realized.

No matter who is picked, there are a number of duties the new AD must undertake. They are as follows:

First, he must demand that NIU strictly abide by all NCAA regulations.

He must be a money-maker. In other words, he must be able to to draw money from alumni and other outside sources to eliminate the existing deficit. After all, the road to the Big Time is paved in green. NIU needs money to turn the corner of national respect and right now, it isn’t even on the right street.

The men’s football and basketball team’s should find conferences, ones stronger than the Mid-American Conference they left.

He must look into bringing back track and baseball. How successful can a program be when it doesn’t even have all the major sports? In addition, the Huskies must keep all their minor sports.

Better marketing and promotion of the sports and their individual contests is also needed.

The men’s and women’s programs should be given equal treatment, but obviously, the income sports should be given top priority.

The issue of updated facilities has been tossed around, but these improvements are not needed until other necessities—such as deficit problems and stronger programs—have been addressed. After all, there is no reason to have a 50,000 seat stadium when the crowds don’t reach 30,000 now.

We can only hope that one of the three candidates is right for the job and that the university is intelligent enough to pick him. If everything goes as planned, NIU could be on its way.