Livengood, Maturi interviewed for AD position

Ben Goessling

Despite a search process shrouded in secrecy, the names of two top candidates for Minnesota’s athletics director position surfaced this week.

Jim Livengood, currently the athletics director at Arizona, is believed to be the top choice for the job. Joel Maturi, the athletics director at Miami of Ohio, is the second choice.

The Star Tribune reported on June 30th both Livengood and Maturi have interviewed in person with outgoing University President Mark Yudof, interim President Robert Bruininks, Vice President Tonya Moten Brown and search committee chairwoman Mary Jo Kane.

Kane was contacted but refused comment for this story.

Neither Livengood nor Maturi could be reached for comment.

Livengood told the Arizona Republic on June 29th he is “very, very happy” at Arizona, but has also expressed interest in the Minnesota job.

Livengood came to Arizona in 1994, and the Wildcats have posted a top-10 finish in the Sears Directors’ Cup standings every year since then. The Directors’ Cup measures a school’s success in all varsity sports.

Arizona finished ninth in this year’s Directors’ Cup standings, two spots behind Minnesota.

Maturi, a native of Chisholm, Minn., came to Miami of Ohio in 1998 after serving as athletics director at Denver University from 1992-98.

Maturi has expressed greater interest in the job than Livengood, and would likely take the position if it’s offered.

Bye resigns

Former Gophers football player Billy Bye resigned from the athletics director search committee this week, telling the Pioneer Press on Saturday a lack of communication between members of the search committee about potential candidates lead to his decision.

“The inability to meet with or gain firsthand knowledge about any candidates negates any constructive input I could offer,” Bye wrote in a resignation letter addressed to Kane. “You have been a dedicated and diligent chair. The other committee members are most capable. It is a shame not to share meaningful information with them due to a paranoia about ‘leaks.'”

Coaches, boosters await AD appointment

After starting her new job as women’s basketball coach last month, Pam Borton has too many tasks to accomplish before the season starts to worry about a new athletics director.

That’s not to say she hasn’t thought about it, however.

“I’m at a point where I’m focused on other things than the athletics director search,” she said. “But I think everybody is getting anxious to see who it will be.”

Borton said there has been no negative impact from the absence of an athletics director in filling her coaching staff and contacting recruits.

But baseball coach John Anderson has seen his ability to sign recruits diminished by the uncertainty around the athletics department.

“You’re probably not looking at it affecting the team next year,” he said. “But it will affect the team down the road someplace.”

Others, like wrestling coach J Robinson and volleyball booster club president John Oravis, are taking an extensive interest in the search to see what kind of person they will be working with.

“I have more concerns as a donor than I do as a booster,” Oravis said. “In the past, my money has gone almost exclusively towards women’s athletics, and I want to know if the support for women will continue as it has in the past.”

Said Robinson: “My main concern is how a new athletics director will treat sports like wrestling and gymnastics. If you get someone from a school that doesn’t have those sports, it makes you wonder.”

Robinson also expressed concerns about the search process, saying he was following it partly out of concern for who the committee might select if coaches aren’t given any input.

Men’s hockey coach Don Lucia and women’s swimming coach Jean Freeman are on the search committee, but Bye’s accusations of a lack of communication are causing Robinson’s frustration.

“I want to know who is going to be responsible if the new athletics director doesn’t work out,” he said. “You have a bunch of people (on the search committee) that don’t know what kind of questions to ask candidates. We don’t have a defined agenda of what we want.”