TU President Steadman Upham says school not in a hurry to hire new AD
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Sunday, December 30, 2012
12/30/12 at 7:12 AM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - During his first interview since the firing of athletic director Ross Parmley, University of Tulsa President Steadman Upham said the university probably won't attempt to hire a new AD until the NCAA has completed its investigation of Parmley's alleged gambling on college football and NFL games.
"Quite honestly, we're not in a hurry to move on the AD position," Upham said on Saturday, following a Liberty Bowl luncheon. "Until the NCAA issues its opinion, and makes a determination on the university's status, I think we're probably in a little bit of a holding pattern.
"I want to make sure that when we go out and search for a new AD - if we go out and search for a new AD - that the conditions are known and the playing field is known."
Because of TU's history of NCAA compliance, because of a quick university response to fire Parmley, and because TU immediately established dialogue with the NCAA after Parmley's situation became known, Upham is hoping that the university will not be penalized.
"I do not believe there will be a significant issue with the university in this," Upham said. "This was an individual action (by Parmley), and it was very unfortunate. But you never know. You want to wait it through. We'll let the investigation takes its course. I have every confidence in the NCAA and their process."
Upham said he hopes for a fast resolution so that TU can begin its process of hiring a new athletic director. He said TU has been "inundated" with inquiries about the athletic director position.
"A lot of very talented people have expressed an interest," Upham said. "It's very flattering."
TU officials learned of Parmley's alleged football gambling last month, when Upham and his wife were touring southern sections of Argentina and Chile - more than 6,000 miles from the university. The NCAA prohibits student-athletes and athletic department staff members from "wagering on intercollegiate, amateur and professional sports in which the Association conducts championships."
From South America, Upham issued the order first to suspend Parmley and, a week later, on Dec. 4, to fire the athletic director.
"It was awful," Upham said of the Parmley dismissal.
And from a hotel in Santiago, Chile, Upham spoke by telephone with presidents of other Conference USA institutions regarding the league's immediate future.
On Saturday, Upham expressed concern about the state of Conference USA and discussed the possibility of TU membership in the Mountain West or Big East.
"I don't anticipate things moving terribly quickly, and right now, it's not clear what the best course of action is," Upham said. "We want to be in a conference where our coaches have the ability to recruit five-star athletes and to be able to say we're going to play in Dallas and Houston, and we're on the big screen. That's what talented football and basketball players are looking for.
"I also want to be in a conference that we can be proud of academically. Losing two of the private schools (SMU and Tulane) in Conference USA is damaging to me, in the way I think about the conference. Whether that forces us to take an action, I can't speculate. For one thing, it's not our call. We have to have an invitation (to move from C-USA to another league)."
TU's investments in facilities, along with the Golden Hurricane's sustained football success, have positioned the university to attract the consideration of Mountain West officials. Boise State and San Diego State accepted invitations to join the Big East, but in the wake of that conference's continued unraveling, both schools reportedly may decide to stay in the Mountain West. That would make the Mountain West possibility particularly attractive for TU.
"Rumor has it that the Mountain West might take two additional members," Upham said. "The question is, would they take a Tulsa? Or would they take a media a market like Dallas or a media market like Houston? That's been our problem going forward.
"But let me say to you that we're having the necessary conversations, and people know what our intentions are and what our aspirations are. People can see what our record has been."
Six Conference USA schools - SMU, Tulane, East Carolina, Central Florida, Houston and Memphis - have accepted Big East membership invitations. But the luster of a Big East move has been dulled by decisions by Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame (all sports except for football), Louisville and Rutgers to leave the league. Recently, it was announced that seven basketball members - including Georgetown and St. John's - also are planning to split from the Big East.
If the Big East's current television contracts are nullified, membership in the Big East might be no more lucrative than membership in C-USA.
Ultimately, any movement within the Big East or Mountain West could affect TU.
"What's going to happen to the Big East?" Upham said. "Are they going to try to reform or are they done? If they try to reform, there may be opportunities in the Mountain West or the Big East. It may be that some of the schools that left Conference USA want back. I don't know."
A new TU athletic director likely will inherit a fluid conference-membership issue. Even if the NCAA investigation is not resolved for several more months, Upham says TU is prepared to stand pat with university treasurer Kevan Buck as the interim athletic director.
"We'll have to make some structural changes if it goes on for a long time, but right now we're great," Upham said. "I noticed in (a Tulsa World blog) that you said something like we need a 16-hour-a-day AD. Between what Kevan and I are doing, we're covering the bases. We have a lot of help and a lot of friends."
Tulsa (10-3) vs. Iowa State (6-6)
2:30 p.m. Monday
At Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.
Radio: KRMG am740, fm102.3
Original Print Headline: Upham: TU not in a hurry on search for AD
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
TU president Steadman Upham speaks during the Liberty Bowl's presidential luncheon Saturday in Memphis, Tenn. TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World