Sunday, July 19, 2009 | 11:24 a.m.
- Near tragedy still weighs on UNLV athletic director (9-4-2008)
- Has he made the grade? (5-8-2008)
- On top of their salaries, some eye-popping paychecks (4-25-2008)
- Hamrick keeps it close to his vest (11-30-2004)
- UNLV picks Hamrick (8-13-2003)
Beyond the Sun
UNLV athletic director Mike Hamrick proudly hangs his framed white Marshall football jersey, bearing green 92 numerals, in the upstairs family room of his Seven Hills house.
Antlers, maybe a dozen points, hang on another wall.
Both offer some insight about where home is for Hamrick, a hunter who might be heading back to his native West Virginia.
According to many sources, Hamrick, 52, is a serious candidate for the athletic director post at Marshall University, his alma mater.
In recent days, Hamrick is believed to have interviewed, in Dallas, with the executive recruitment firm of Eastman & Beaudine, a search Marshall paid $50,000 for E&B to conduct far from West Virginia.
Hamrick could not be reached for comment and he did not return several phone messages.
He hails from Elkview, W.Va., about 45 minutes from the Marshall campus in Huntington, he played linebacker on the Thundering Herd football team and he graduated from the school in 1980.
Hamrick is easily the best fit for Marshall among four finalists, wrote Chuck Landon, a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington. “Hamrick’s the man,” read the headline on Landon’s story Friday.
“Hamrick should be the clear-cut choice,” Landon wrote. “Marshall’s foundering athletics need a seasoned hand on the wheel if this ship is to be righted. Hamrick is the only (candidate) that possesses that experience.”
Other candidates include UCLA senior associate athletic director Ross Bjork, Texas-El Paso senior associate athletic director Brian Wickstrom, and either University of San Diego associate athletic director Steve Becvar or SMU deputy athletic director Mike Vaught.
After seven years, Bob Marcum retired as Marshall’s athletic director this summer. David Steele has been the interim director over the past few weeks.
Marshall chief of staff Bill Bissett told the Charleston Daily Mail that the process is moving “at a quicker speed than expected.”
One source believed Hamrick would be offered the job over the weekend. Another source said Hamrick taking the Marshall job is imminent and that the end of July is an accurate timetable.
Marshall has had four consecutive losing football seasons and has slipped in attendance and fundraising, and significant budget cuts are around the corner.
Going home, though, might be too attractive for Hamrick, especially given an uncertain climate at UNLV. Hamrick’s boss, David Ashley, was recently demoted from the presidency of the university, so job security could be an issue.
Hamrick makes $287,000 on a UNLV contract that expires in June 2010. Marcum’s last annual salary at Marshall was $110,000. The average Conference USA athletic director earns $280,000 a year.
Marshall apparently likes Hamrick’s ties to the school and his track record. In eight seasons at East Carolina, Hamrick oversaw $46 million in facility improvements.
Hamrick was hired at UNLV by former president Carol Harter in August 2003. He spearheaded $11 million in facility improvements and inked a significant partnership with ISP Sports.
Hamrick’s hiring of Lon Kruger, with key guidance from former UNLV athletic director Brad Rothermel, turned around the Rebels basketball program.
In 2007 and 2008, UNLV won games in consecutive NCAA basketball tournaments for the first time since Jerry Tarkanian accomplished the feat in 1990 and 1991.
The football program had been stagnant under Mike Sanford, another Hamrick hire. But the Rebels were on the verge of a winning season in 2008, after strong victories at Arizona State and at home against Iowa State, before fading and finishing 5-7.
The academic performance of UNLV student-athletes also has been dramatically boosted under Hamrick’s tenure.
There has been no indication of how UNLV would proceed should it lose Hamrick to Marshall.
Sun reporter Ryan Greene contributed to this report.