Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Barbour Gets a Mulligan at Psu

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Barbour Gets a Mulligan at Psu

Article excerpt

When she makes her first coaching hire, there's no way new Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour can or will hire a Sandy Barbour.

Coaches who get pushed out at big-time schools rarely get hired the same year at bigger-time schools.

Athletic director, however, is a different job. Athletic director at Penn State in 2014 may still be a unique job. Hiring Barbour, who was let go earlier this year after a 10-year run at the University of California, suggests that no highly regarded AD at a school of reasonable size and strong ambition would go to Happy Valley.

Still digging out from the Sandusky scandal and the NCAA sanctions that buried the school, it seems Penn State had a choice: Take somebody who would need a learning curve, maybe a successful outside business person, or roll the dice in a different way, on someone available who has experience in charge in the trenches of big-time college sports.

They actually chose the less risky path. This is no place for amateurs. (Unless you play, of course.) Given the box Penn State still is climbing out of, it is better to take someone who deeply understands the issues facing the school if she can learn from her own past mistakes. Is she, in other words, a pro?

It seems three things happened at Cal that cost Barbour her job. The athletic department dug itself a deep fiscal hole mainly because of infrastructure costs that were approved way above Barbour's level. The football team's graduation rates were in shambles. And the football team stopped winning.

Cal ran up a staggering debt on stadium renovation and overall athletics infrastructure, reportedly $445 million as of a year ago. Again, infrastructure decisions are made at the highest levels. That alone didn't get Barbour displaced.

Maybe if Cal was occasionally beating Stanford and at least contending for Rose Bowl appearances, one of the nation's most academically prestigious state schools would have averted its eyes from a deep downward turn in graduation rates. …

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