The next AD at C of C? 10 fresh ideas

UNC Asheville Athletic Director Janet Cone. Photo provided

The currently chilly College of Charleston sports scene needs revenue, fans and NCAA Tournament appearances. Those three assets are as intertwined in success as a basketball net before celebratory scissors separate it from a rim.

A school founded in 1770 and older than the United States is looking for an athletic director, with Joe Hull due out in December. The next hire is critical. The College of Charleston, per a December update, has a $2.1 million deficit. The athletic department was $681,000 in the red for 2014, according to NCAA figures.

There are too many empty seats at TD Arena.

Baseball, soccer and softball coaches have been waiting for years for Patriots Point upgrades but no one can raise the money.

Is the Colonial Athletic Association the right fit?

Many of my 10 suggestions for the gig have better jobs now. Or might make more money than the $204,000 Hull gets this year. Some are on a path to big things. But Cougar Nation can fish with a patented Charleston lure: She-crab soup, marsh views, charm.

Hey, check this out, Travel + Leisure thinks we’re the “World’s Best City.”

In no particular order:

- Night Train Veeck, Manager of Fan Engagement, Chicago White Sox. At 30, Veeck is a chip off the old block(s), the son of former Charleston RiverDogs co-owner/marketing guru Mike Veeck and grandson of legendary maverick baseball owner Bill Veeck. He oozes enthusiasm, and is an alum. Night Train has a Masters degree from Northwestern and a job title that fits College of Charleston needs.

- Janet Cone, Athletic Director, UNC Asheville. The UNC Asheville AD since 2004, Cone is well known for innovative fundraising and aggressive facility upgrades. Plus, she’s a Summerville native. Clout? She is a member of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament selection committee.

- Charles Waddell, Deputy Athletics Director, South Carolina. Waddell is more than a trusted right-hand man for USC AD Ray Tanner. He worked in development and fundraising at Fayetteville State and spent almost 10 years at Richardson Sports, where he helped bring in $100 million in sponsorships for the Carolina Panthers. Waddell played football, basketball and ran track at North Carolina in the 1970s.

- Debbie Antonelli, college basketball analyst. When not breaking down women’s and men’s basketball games for ESPN and other networks, Antonelli, a Mount Pleasant resident and former N.C. State player, conducts clinics, produces programming, speaks and dabbles in business interests. She’s a no-nonsense class act who has learned from the best administrators and coaches.

- Andy Solomon, Development Officer for Athletics, The Citadel. Solomon, a Charleston native, is as plugged into sports business in South Carolina as anyone. He has juggled management, marketing and fundraising duties at The Citadel, and has been recognized nationally for his work. He helps the Charleston RiverDogs with public relations, serves as an NCAA postseason supervisor and has taught classes at The Citadel.

- Charles Bloom, Executive Associate Athletic Director, South Carolina. No doubt, Bloom will be a successful major college athletic director or conference commissioner. After a 17-year media relations stint in the SEC office, Bloom, a South Carolina grad, was one of the first hires Tanner made as AD.

- Warren Peper, Director of Graduate School, Charleston Southern. No one on this list is as recognized in the Lowcountry as Peper, the most popular local TV personality over the last 30 years. A former CSU basketball player (and my autumn Pigskin Picks partner), Peper brings rare fan/donor connection potential. Note that Coastal Carolina’s AD is former sportscaster Matt Hogue.

- Brad Edwards, Athletic Director, George Mason University. Among the longshots who would need some convincing, the former South Carolina and NFL safety has been AD at Newberry and Jacksonville. Edwards, a North Carolina native, broke in working under former AD Mike McGee at South Carolina.

- Barclay Radebaugh, head basketball coach, Charleston Southern. If a gregarious overachiever succeeds as a coach, he can probably recruit other good head coaches and donors. Radebaugh knows how to do more with less. He surely picked up knowledge from stints at South Carolina, Miami, Winthrop, Wofford, Furman, Queens College and ETSU.

- Chad Cook, Assistant Commissioner, Big South Conference. Quietly, the Big South has made big gains in the mid-major sports world; Cook, a 14-year veteran, has helped. The Furman grad specializes in corporate sponsorships, marketing and TV contracts.

This is a big hire for the College of Charleston. Hopefully, someone on its search committee will realize that recruiting the right person almost always beats sifting through applications.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff