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Baker says UNT showed early interest


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The University of North Texas Board of Regents unanimously approved the hiring of Wren Baker as the school’s athletic director Friday.

The man who spent the past 14 months as Missouri’s deputy athletic director and the past two weeks overseeing the department on an interim basis after the abrupt departure of Mack Rhoades to Baylor will be formally introduced in his new job during a press conference Monday morning.

Baker took time Saturday morning to talk to the Tribune’s Steve Walentik about the decision to move to Denton, Texas, the timing with which it was made and some impressions of the program he’s leaving behind in Columbia.

Here is a transcript of that conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Q: Why was this a good opportunity for you?

A: One, there’s only a finite number Division I, FBS AD jobs, and those are hard to get, and when you get that opportunity — kind of like a head-coaching opportunity — it’s something that you’ve really got to look at. And North Texas is one that I think is a really great opportunity, because they have a lot of the things that you need to be successful — all the things that you need. They’ve got great location. It’s an area that’s rich in talent for just about every sport. It’s in a city that’s a desirable location to live and to recruit to in Denton and the DFW Metroplex, and then for Heather and I, it really fits us just because it’s by far and away the closest that we’ve been to home, especially since we had our two kids. So to be 90 miles from her parents (in Calera, Okla.) and 150 miles from where I grew up (in Valliant, Okla.) was something that was important to us.

Q: I wanted to ask you about the timing of things. North Texas officials have known they were going to need a new athletic director since late May, and Rick Villareal left officially in late June. How long had you been talking to them? How long was your name in the mix for this job?

A: The timeline gets a little bit blurry just in terms of knowing the days and stuff. We had a baseball search and then Mack’s situation. When they selected a search firm, the search firm initially kind of reached out to me and said, “We’ve got this job. We still have to visit with them, find out a little bit more about the profile they’re looking for, but we think this is one that you would be a good candidate for.” I don’t remember the exact time. It was before our baseball search for sure. But it’s one of those things where I’ve gotten probably a couple of dozen of those calls over the past few years, so you’re not guaranteed the job. It’s just like, “Hey, we’re going to present them with 10-20 candidates. You might be one of those names we present. With your permission we’d like to do a little more work on this.”

So that call came, and then probably maybe somewhere else along the way a few weeks later, maybe shortly before or shortly after the baseball search, they just said, “OK, we’ve defined more of the profile of the candidate that we’re looking for. We still feel like that you would be a really good fit. Would you be OK with us moving your candidacy forward?” At that point in time, I told them that I would, and then you just kind of play the waiting game. So I didn’t know anything more until probably four or five days after Mack’s announcement.

I did tell the chancellor in our conversation that, “Hey, this could become an opportunity. There’s no defined timeline. I haven’t been promised a job. I haven’t been promised an interview. But this would be something — if it developed — that I’d want to take a look at.”

I got the call a few days after Mack’s announcement and then came down a few days after that and interviewed in Dallas, and that led to them ultimately offering me the job.

read more:  http://www.columbiatribune.com/sports/mu/baker-says-unt-showed-early-interest/article_d65e4853-4828-55df-aa81-612f4c16861b.html

 

 

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