COLUMBIA —South Carolina announced Friday that athletic director Eric Hyman resigned to take the same job at Texas A&M. The announcement came a day after multiple media reports said Hyman would take the job, which puts him closer to his family.
Hyman arrived at USC in July 2005. He worked at Texas Christian from 1997-2005. His children and their spouses still live in Fort Worth, where TCU is located — a three-hour drive from Texas A&M. Hyman’s first grandchild is due in November.
It is unclear how much Hyman, 61, will make. He earned about $500,000 after receiving a $75,000 raise last August. Texas A&M’s previous athletic director, Bill Byrne, was reportedly set to make $690,000 in the final year of his contract.
Texas A&M will officially join the Southeastern Conference on Sunday — the seven-year anniversary of Hyman’s arrival at USC, which said it will name an interim replacement within the next week.
“We wish Eric well in his next endeavor,” USC president Harris Pastides said in a statement. “The University of South Carolina bears the marks of his leadership, from enhanced facilities to the hiring of strong coaches to higher student graduation rates. We will miss him on our team, but his legacy has made us stronger.”
Said Hyman, in a statement: “I am very excited for the opportunity to help transition Texas A&M into the Southeastern Conference. While this is a tremendous opportunity, the downside is leaving all the dedicated and loyal fans in Gamecock Nation and the best athletic department in the country.”
His tenure in Columbia was marked by increased financial stability and a $200 million master plan for facilities improvements — both due in part to the controversial Yearly Equitable Seating program Hyman established in 2008. The program charges football season ticket holders a fee on top of their actual ticket cost.
Hyman’s high-profile coaching hires produced mix results. USC’s two top coaches — Steve Spurrier in football and Ray Tanner in baseball — were hired by Mike McGee, who was USC’s athletic director from 1993 to 2005.
In 2008, Hyman hired Dawn Staley to coach women’s basketball and Darrin Horn to coach men’s basketball. Staley last season brought the Gamecocks to their first NCAA tournament Sweet 16 since 2001-02. Horn was fired after his third straight losing season. However, Hyman impressed many observers by landing a big name, Frank Martin, to replace Horn.
Hyman will remain at least somewhat familiar with USC in his new job. Texas A&M will be USC’s permanent West Division football opponent beginning in 2013.
As Pastides seeks a replacement for Hyman, the president has appointed a five-member team to offer recommendations. The two most prominent members, in the sports community, are Staley and Tommy Suggs, the former USC quarterback and currently its radio color commentator.
The other members are William Hubbard, the chairman of the intercollegiate athletics committee on USC’s Board of Trustees; I.S. Leevy Johnson, a Columbia attorney; and Charles Adams, a clinical assistant professor at USC.
Pastides’ targets for the athletic director job (or at least those expressing interest) might include Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich and Middle Tennessee State athletic director Chris Massaro.
Radakovich was an associate athletic director at USC from 1994-2000. One report said Radakovich was a top candidate for Texas A&M’s vacancy, but he denied that to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Massaro worked at USC from 1985-2005, finishing his career in Columbia as a senior associate athletic director, before taking the Middle Tennessee State job.
A somewhat lower-profile candidate, in terms of athletic director experience, could be Brad Edwards, the athletic director at Newberry College since 2009. Edwards played defensive back at USC and was a second-round NFL draft pick in 1988.
Edwards worked under McGee at USC from 1999-2006, then entered the private sector, before taking the Newberry job. At USC, Edwards was a senior associate athletic director when he left. He was heavily involved in the planning and construction of Colonial Life Arena.
Tanner wants to get into athletic administration eventually, but after winning the national championship in 2010 and 2011 and finishing second this year, is he ready to leave coaching? And even if he is, would Pastides turn to someone with so little administrative experience?
Tanner, who just finished his 16th season at USC, does have some administrative experience. While working as an assistant coach at North Carolina State from 1980-87, he also was the assistant to the athletic director, and the assistant athletic director in charge of game operations. Tanner has his bachelor’s degree in recreation administration and a master’s of public affairs (public administration) — both from N.C. State.
Tanner is a prominent face around the state of South Carolina, especially as a public speaker for companies and clubs, and in February, the USC Board of Trustees named him a special advisor for community relations to Pastides.
Notes• At Friday’s Board meeting, Staley received a raise from $250,000 to $300,000. The buyout payment she would owe USC if she left was reduced from $400,000 to $200,000.
• The Board also tweaked Spurrier’s contract. Spurrier will still get $50,000 for reaching nine wins, $100,000 for 10, $200,000 for 11 and $300,000 for 12. But those bonuses are now cumulative. They previous were not. So if USC wins 12 games, Spurrier gets $650,000.
USC won 11 games last season for the first time ever. Before the Board approved Spurrier’s ascending bonus structure for victories in February, he received $50,000 for winning nine games and $100,000 for winning 10 or more.
Spurrier’s contract runs through the 2015 season and his guaranteed total compensation in 2012 will be $3.3 million.
• All three USC junior baseball players who were picked in the Major League Baseball draft are turning pro, as expected. First baseman Christian Walker and pitcher Matt Price signed with the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, joining centerfielder Evan Marzilli, who signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. USC also loses senior right fielder Adam Matthews and senior ace pitcher Michael Roth, who are joining the Cincinnati Reds and Anaheim Angels organizations.
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