Thursday, July 5, 2012
Conspiracy Theories: The Kevin White Files
When the media caught wind of Dr. White's soon departure for Duke, I knew everyone and their mother would post on this topic like white on rice. The short list of potential replacements also was going to be debated all weekend long. As much as I like to give my two cents about that, even though I've given my list several times on this blog before and my ideal candidate (Gene Smith or Barry Alvarez), I looked at this situation from a different angle: The Why?
There are plenty of negatives and positives of White's 8-year tenure in South Bend; however, the timing of this situation is rather peculiar. First, the Duke position opened up in April when Joe Aleve headed to LSU. Usually these positions move rather quickly, and with a highly regarded institution like Duke University, this one should have moved at lighting speed, right? Insiders close to the Duke athletic department said White contacted Richard H. Brodhead, President of Duke, and the week of May 20th about the vacant position.
May 20th? Interesting date indeed. That was during Notre Dame's current stretch of losing 8 consecutive baseball games and one day from being removed from the Big East Tournament and sealing their fate of missing out on the NCAA's for a second consecutive year. Also that was one week before the latest National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Cup standings came out.
You may be asking yourself, why is the NACDA Cup standings so important? Well, one of Dr. White's main objectives when he first arrived on campus was to strengthen the entire athletic programs. He said during his press conference in 2001, that he will get Notre Dame in the Top 10 annually of the Cup Standings. If you look below here are the standings during his reign:
2001 - 11th
2002 - 13th
2003 - 13th
2004 - 19th
2005 - 16th
2006 - 6th
2007 - 11th
Current 2008 standings (with one more set to go) - 15th
Basically Dr. White guided the Irish athletics to an all sports average of 13 annually.
Those two incidents were the last straw for several influential alums, as Dr. White did not make too many friends after several, not-so-defining moments. The handling of the football, marketing of Notre Dame Stadium (Jumbo-Tron), and the 7-4-1 scheduling, got many at a fever pitch about White. Also being slow on the up keep of facilities didn't bode well for him too!
Some close to the situation, according to South Bend Tribune columnist, Eric Hansen, said this was known about White's fate. As I made several calls to a few sources, one thing appeared to make some sense: White knew the writing on the wall and it was time for him to move on. Whether he was being forced out and to find time about landing another position is up for debate. Remember last month the blurb CBSSportsline's Dennis Dodd wrote about Dr. White and the Pac-10? Coincidence, who knows?
There will be a lot of major players that will be on Fr. Jenkins' list, as he slapped the interim AD tag on current Deputy AD Missy Conboy. Will he go in house and remove Conboy's tag, or will he elevate quick riser Stan Wilcox (current Deputy AD that works closely with Football), or move athletic department staple John Heisler (responsible for media relations and football scheduling).
Maybe he'll go with a Notre Dame man and nab Ohio State's Gene Smith, or Minnesota's Joel Maturi, or SMU's Steve Orisini, or Tulsa's Bubba Cunningham, or Xavier's Mike Bobinski. So many choices for Fr. Jenkins to decide, but this should be his mantra in hiring White's successor. Whom ever he picks to run the Irish Athletic Department, this person needs to make sound and precise decisions that will stay true to ND's rich athletic history, and will help elevate it to make new history!
One thing is now for certain about White and the Notre Dame athletic department: Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a Gift, because it is the Present!