MSU starts nationwide hunt for AD

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – The search for Mississippi State’s new athletics director has already begun, less than 24 hours after the job became open.
President Dr. Mark Keenum said Monday that a “national search will begin immediately” to fill the post vacated by Greg Byrne, who announced earlier in the day that he had accepted the athletic director job at Arizona.
Keenum told the Daily Journal that he has already started looking for a search firm. He hopes to have a hire by May 1, “but I’m not going to be held to that as a hard and fixed timeline. I’ll take as much time as we need to find the right person.”
Who is the right person? Several names cycled through the rumor mill Monday, including Scott Stricklin, head of MSU’s Bulldog Club; Joe Dean Jr., a former MSU basketball player who’s now AD at Birmingham-Southern; and Ron Hill, an MSU alum and currently the NFL’s vice-president of football operations.
“I want someone who’s going to be highly motivated, who’s going to be a visionary, someone who has good management skills and is obviously good with people,” Keenum said, noting that experience in fundraising also would be an asset.
The last AD search took about eight months, but school officials had the advantage then of knowing months in advance that Larry Templeton would be retiring.
Byrne, 38, who became MSU’s athletic director in February 2008, will stay through at least Super Bulldog Weekend on April 16-18. His new job puts him closer to family and will pay him more handsomely – $390,000, compared to $302,500 per year in Starkville.
Keenum said he does not, however, see MSU as a stepping stone job.
“I think our university is a place where people would want to go and be a part of this great university environment and be here for a long period of time, maybe have their entire career here,” Keenum said. “I think we are that caliber of university.”

Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or brad.locke@djournal.com.