Almost three months to the day after the departure of Washington State Cougars athletic director Bill Moos, Kyle Bonagura of ESPN is reporting Pat Chun, currently the athletic director at Florida Atlantic University, will replace him.
Despite the involvement of a committee of coaches, administrators and others to aide President Kirk Schulz in the process of hiring a new athletic director, the entire search process has been very quiet with no names even floated as a possibility before Chun’s this afternoon. Schulz had previously set a February 1 deadline of naming a new athletic director and will meet that with about two weeks to spare.
Chun has been the athletic director at Florida Atlantic since 2012 and his list of accomplishments there is quite long. Besides hiring Lane Kiffin, Chun has helped pump unprecedented amounts of money into the department. From his biography on the FAU website:
Chun has earned a reputation as an outstanding fundraiser with record successes at two institutions. At FAU, December 2, 2015, the university announced the largest single gift in its history, $16 million from the Schmidt Family Foundation, which would be directed to the design and construction of a new athletics facility to be named the Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence. Construction will begin in the Fall of 2017. The project also includes a $5 million commitment from Christine E. Lynn for the Christine E. Lynn Sports Medicine Center and another $5 million commitment from Bobby and Barbara Campbell for the Bobby and Barbara Campbell Academic Success Center. Fall of 2016 saw the opening of the FAU Tennis Complex. The $800,000 project was funded primarily through private philanthropy.
Chun also entered into a corporate sponsorship sales agreement with Learfield Sports that’s expected to bring in $25 million over the 10 year life of the deal. Prior to his time at FAU, Chun worked at Ohio State University where he helped bring in massive private dollars, including a $42 million fundraising record in 2012 just before leaving for Boca Raton. He was also on the team that secured a massive, $128 million deal with IMG for Ohio State.
This all screams exactly what Schulz preached in his press conference after Moos’ departure: the need for a fundraiser to come in and right the ship financially for WSU. The school is trying to dig their way out of a financial hole in the athletic department and, on the surface, it seems Schulz has found one of the best possible candidates to do just that.
The good news for Chun is that although fundraising is certainly a huge concern, he doesn’t need to worry about his coaches too much. Mike Leach, Jen Greeny, Todd Shulenberger and Wayne Phipps are all locked down long term after signing extensions in the last couple of months. Ernie Kent, for better or worse, is also under contract through 2022.
Though tomorrow will only be day one of Chun’s tenure at WSU, on paper, it seems like Schulz, his search committee, and search firm have hit this out of the park. Chun’s fundraising record is exactly what WSU needs right now and don’t underestimate those corporate sponsorship deals either. WSU is without a large, corporate partner and if Chun can continue the work he has done there in Pullman, it could help the department’s bottom line massively.
(UPDATE 1/16, 8:55 p.m.): The school announced tonight that Chun’s introductory press conference is being delayed indefinitely in the wake of redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Hilinski’s suicide.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255