Friday, November 16

Search for new athletic director nears end


Officials hope to name a replacement before Dalis' retirement

By Vytas Mazeika

Daily Bruin Senior Staff

Nothing is official yet, but according to recent news reports
the search for a new athletic director at UCLA is nearly done.

Last November, when current athletic director Peter Dalis
announced his retirement effective the end of June, a search began
to identify candidates.

A six-person search committee headed by Administrative Vice
Chancellor Pete Blackman narrowed the list of candidates to a
select few who are currently in the process of interviewing with
Chancellor Albert Carnesale.

An announcement could come soon if Carnesale is satisfied after
the interviews with Athletic Directors Gary Walters of Princeton,
Dan Guerrero of UC Irvine and Gene Bleymaier of Boise State, and
UCLA associate athletic director Betsy Stephenson.

“Obviously you’d like to have the person identified
before Pete Dalis retires so there can be some overlap,”
Carnesale said at a press conference with the Daily Bruin late in
the winter quarter. “And since he retires at the end of June,
April and May is something we would certainly aim for. But you
wouldn’t make any sacrifice whatsoever in the selection of
the person in order to get it done in April.”

Carnesale said he did not want to tell the search committee who
they should recommend, but he did make it clear what was important
to him in an athletic director.

“Number one, it has to be somebody whose values and
standards for excellence across the board, academically as well as
athletically, are ingrained and consonant with a university like
UCLA,” Carnesale said. “Secondly, it has to be someone
who can select outstanding people with whom to work. One of the
most important things an athletic director does is the selection of
coaches.

“Third, it has to be someone who’s capable of
operating a rather large enterprise. UCLA athletics involves lots
of people, lots of student-athletes, lots of employees, lots of
facilities, lots of money and more.”

The new athletic director will probably re-evaluate the
performance and job security of various head coaches at UCLA,
including football’s Bob Toledo and men’s
basketball’s Steve Lavin. Dalis’ replacement will also
have to tackle issues such as the replacement or renovation of
aging facilities like the Rose Bowl, Pauley Pavilion and the
football practice facilities.

The recruiting firm of Heidrick and Struggles was hired at the
beginning and is still coordinating the search. In the past few
years the firm played a role in the search for athletic directors
at Notre Dame, Michigan, Kansas, Louisiana State and Arizona
State.

Stephen Unger, managing partner for the media, entertainment and
sports practice at the West Los Angeles offices, would not disclose
details of the search but did mention that several Heidrick and
Struggles employees with ties to UCLA are excited about the chance
to contribute to the future of the university’s rich athletic
tradition.

“This search is a major priority for our firm, not only
professionally, but also personally,” Unger said.

Within the last couple of weeks, candidates such as UC Santa
Barbara Athletic Director Gary Cunningham and San Diego State
Athletic Director Rick Bay withdrew their names from consideration,
allowing for the search to concentrate on four finalists:

“¢bull; Walters: Princeton teams have won 83 Ivy League and 17
national championships in his first seven years. UCLA captured 39
national titles in Dalis’ first 18 years on the job.
Princeton’s high academic standing and Walters’ ability
to renovate multiple athletic facilities make him a leading
candidate.

“¢bull; Guerrero: A baseball player at UCLA in the early 1970s,
Guerrero has resurrected the baseball program while also adding
women’s water polo, golf and indoor track to address Title IX
compliance. His fund-raising efforts have spearheaded $38 million
worth of newly constructed or renovated facilities, with another
$22 million in facility enhancements not too far away.

“¢bull; Bleymaier: A third team All-Pac-8 tight end for the UCLA
football team in 1974, Bleymaier is the only candidate external to
UCLA who is in charge of a football program. He moved the football
program from Division I-AA to the Western Athletic Conference and
was the driving force behind the creation of the Humanitarian Bowl.
He also served as an assistant athletic director under J.D. Morgan
prior to going to Boise State.

“¢bull; Stephenson: Seen as the second in command behind Dalis,
Stephenson supervises 12 of the men’s and women’s
programs. She also oversees the recruiting, academic services,
student services and marketing units. Stephenson played a major
role in the NCAA rules infraction cases involving tailback DeShaun
Foster and three-sport athlete Kristee Porter, but was also
responsible for the hiring of soccer head coach Todd Saldaña,
who stepped down after it was discovered his bachelor’s
degree came from an unaccredited university.

Though an announcement could come any time, no one is saying
much at the moment.

“The university has defined the process and as a candidate
I’m relying on the process to run its course,”
Stephenson said through the Athletic Department. “As long as
I continue to be a candidate I’ll defer to the university for
comment.”

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