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  1. Two weeks after its athletic director abruptly resigned, Missouri is set to lose its interim athletic director, Wren Baker, by the end of the week. Baker is the leading candidate for the vacant athletic director job at North Texas and is expected to be offered the position Friday when the school’s board of regents meets, a source told The Star. The University of North Texas System Boards of Regents has convened “a Special Called meeting by telephone” at 1 p.m. Friday to discuss “consideration of individual personnel matters related to the appointment of and an employment agreement with a UNT Athletic Director.” At that meeting, Baker is expected to be hired as Rick Villarreal’s successor. Villarreal stepped down in May after 15 seasons with the Mean Green, which included the construction of Apogee Stadium for $78 million in 2011. Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/college/sec/university-of-missouri/article92221477.html#storylink=cpy Baker was hired in May 2015 as Missouri’s deputy athletic director under Mack Rhoades, who resigned July 13 to accept the same post at Baylor. After Rhoades’ departure, MU interim chancellor Hank Foley made Baker interim athletic director despite the fact that Baker already had been contacted by a search firm representing North Texas about its opening, multiple sources told The Star. Baker’s anticipated departure will leave Missouri without an athletic director for the second time this month. Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/college/sec/university-of-missouri/article92221477.html#storylink=cpy Read more:. http://www.kansascity.com/sports/college/sec/university-of-missouri/article92221477.html
  2. Dated, as this was when he was at Memphis (He is interim at Missouri now): When he was 26 years old, he was the youngest school principal in Oklahoma. When he was 27, he was the first athletic director and men's basketball coach at a state school transitioning to a four-year university with eyes on NCAA membership. When he was 32, in the first few months of his tenure as athletic director at a Division 2 power, he was tasked with replacing a retiring legend of a coach and then replacing the new coach after his sudden death. So, yes, Wren Baker, the new No. 2 man at the University of Memphis athletic department, has had his share of quick studies. How he's handled them is what impressed Tom Bowen, the Tigers' athletic director, and led to his hiring last month to oversee all of the department's external operations. "This young man is a rising rock star in this business," Bowen said. Baker, 34, arrived in Memphis just a few weeks ago. He's still getting settled into his second-floor office near the Hardaway Hall of Fame, in the school's relatively new offices for development staff. With the Tigers, he will have a hodgepodge of roles, including oversight of the department's fundraising, marketing, licensing and ticket office. His background in college basketball, though, is of particular interest to Bowen. Baker was involved in helping to execute last week's decision by Bowen to extend coach Josh Pastner's contract. And Baker fondly recalls staying up late with Pastner a few weeks back talking shop. "I will be very involved in the basketball program," Baker said. "That's what Tom's indicated he wants me to do. That's a good fit." Baker's career in college athletics began ever so appropriately for the new No. 2 at Memphis: with a FedEx overnight envelope. read more: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/new-memphis-deputy-ad-wren-baker-has-been-quick-riser--and-quick-study-ep-362197754-326793631.html
  3. The more I think about this AD hire the more I am convinced it is the most important hire we have ever had in athletics. We may very well be on the precipice of a golden age for North Texas athletics and we can't afford to mess this one up. We need to get this right. Landing Littrell and his staff appears to be a good, possibly great move. I am very encouraged from what I am seeing thus far. Realistically, Littrell and this staff will be heading to bigger things if he is able to turn this ship around quickly. This AD position may be here longer. What I love about Littrell is he saw the potential here. It would have been easy for him to wait it out at UNC where Fedora is building a potential national championship caliber program down the road. He looked at North Texas, at Denton and all of our natural assets and saw the potential launching pad he needed. I would like to see the same mindset from the new AD. Do we need to have someone understand the history of this place? Yes and no. Sure, there needs to be a basic understanding of our history good and bad. I also think a new, fresh approach needs to be considered as well. What we absolutely don't need is someone who wants to feed the new AD with all of the pitfalls and past failures. The past is the past. I have maintained for some time now, that our new North Texas Athletic program started in 2011 with the unveiling of Apogee and when we finally paid a reasonable wage to Mac and his assistants. Don't point to prior as we frankly were running a D-I facade. Denton is a hot town now, the growth throughout DFW is just phenomenal and the university is making huge strides in terms of enrollment, academics and facilities. It's just a different place a different time. It offers a huge opportunity to the right candidate. They need to realize that coming in. Heck even our AD compensation appears to be in the competitive range based on the numbers I have seen. As North Texas alums we have been conditioned over the years to have a chip on our collective shoulders. Those days are over. the new AD needs to clearly understand this. I won't go through a laundry list of items I would like to see, but here are a few of the most important ones: 1). Young(er) energetic, high achiever who has excelled in his athletic or business etc path thus far. I am not beholden to hiring a pure athletic department path candidate per se, I would be open to a business savvy executive who is comfortable interacting with the MANY business and industry leaders we have throughout the metroplex, state and nation/world. We can most certainly hire a support staff who is keen on compliance issues and has the operational experience of running an athletic department. 2). It needs to be a very presentable, charismatic figure who people are drawn to. I frankly do not care if it is a man or a woman, I have come across many capable leaders in both categories. I'm not asking for Jesus here, but if we are paying around 350K we ought to have someone who lights up a room. 3). We need someone who could get the attention of the business community. When we start turning this ship around, it will be paramount that we have a person who can relay a vision, not of where North Texas is but where it will be. There are so many successful North Texas graduates in so many different areas. We need a messenger who can deliver them a tangible vision they they will be compelled by. There are more corporate headquarters here in the DFW area than just about any place in the country. We should actively be reaching out to those who have North Texas grads in their leadership and encourage them to support the cause. Start in Denton and work your way out. Rack and stack the givers and tell the takers to hit the road. 4). They need to understand how extremely important it is to support the coaching staff to achieve their goals of building the program and hold them accountable. It's not enough to give them everything that you think they need, it requires knowing exactly what they need and delivering it with clearly defined expectations at delivery. 5). Full transparency. Donors and stakeholders are much more inclined to participate when they know what is going on and where you are trying to go. 5b). Communication. You cannot have full transparency unless you are communicating consistently with the stakeholders. 6). Tie compensation to performance, but do it with realistic, achievable goals. That's it for now. Feel free to add or subtract as you see fit. I would like to hear other thoughts on this. gmg
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