With the news now official that current Penn State Athletic Director Dave Joyner will retire on August 1, President Eric Barron and a yet-to-be-named search committee will have a tough task on their hands.
They'll have to find a new AD who has expertise in economic, academic, and athletic areas and would be willing to jump into a more stable, but still difficult situation.
In theory anyone could be on the search committee's list. Candidates might include men and women, either currently acting as athletic directors or simply candidates with backgrounds in an area that Barron and company find to be particularly important.
It's unlikely that Penn State will be able to pull away an AD from a booming athletic program, but that doesn't mean it would be impossible.
So who will Penn State hire? Nobody knows, but here are five current ADs that might fit the bill.
1. Jim Phillips: Northwestern
With the Chicago Tribune having Phillips as an early candidate to fill Joyner's role he gets a spot on this list. From a credential standpoint Phillips has overseen an athletic department with academic progress rate scores topping out the Big Ten and one of the best in the nation. While Northwestern has come close to turning the corner on the football field that has yet to happen on a consistent basis despite an energetic Pat Fitzgerald leading the charge. If Phillips is willing to leave, he could be more than qualified for the job at a place where it might just be a bit easier to succeed on the field -- just as well as Phillips has seen his teams succeed off of it.
2. Joe Alleva: LSU
Alleva graduated from Lehigh University giving him ties to Pennsylvania despite a career that has led him south. Having hired Ted Roof, Carl Franks, and perhaps most successful of all, Duke coach David Cutcliffe, Alleva knows the search process all to well. Additionally a background as the LSU AD gives him a leg up on Phillips. That's because LSU's athletic programs have had a lot of success over the past few years. From a Penn State perspective, Alleva was the AD at Duke during the Duke Lacrosse rape scandal, giving him quality experience in crisis management and public relations. The rocky road Penn State has traveled the past few years is smoothing out, but having an AD prepared for whatever comes next is a plus.
3. Debbie Yow: NC State
Yow brings with her an interesting collection of experiences in both the trailblazing and financial areas. The first female AD in the ACC's history while she was at Maryland she helped pare a $51 million debt down to a $5.5 million debt. That greatly helped the university. It took over a decade but was still a remarkable turnaround during a less than stable economic climate. She has done well at NC State although there have been seven head coaching changes under her tenure in just over two years. Penn State's coaching roster is a little more stable and successful which could give Yow a chance to focus on the financial aspects of the department.
4. Jim Weaver: Virginia Tech, retired
It's never easy to get people to come out of retirement, but Weaver might just do it for a school he once played center and linebacker for. Having worked as AD at Virginia Tech from 1997-2014, Weaver has seen success during his tenure in the classroom and across all areas of athletics. Penn State may shy away from hiring another Penn Stater to do the job, but Weaver certainly has the background and resume if they are considering people with Penn State ties. Weaver oversaw VT's transition from the A10 to the Big East and then to the ACC which makes him well suited for the ever-changing collegiate environment.
*Following the publication of this post it was brought to my attention that Jim Weaver is battling Parkinson's Disease. Therefore he is no longer considered a viable candidate although his credentials would have made him one. I wish him all the best.
5. Chris Hill: Utah
If Penn State wants to look outside the box, Hill would be an interesting hire. While at Utah, Hill has seen the Utes succeed across athletics and has worked on facility upgrades for a growing football program that has gained national recognition. Hill hired Rick Majerus in college basketball and Ron McBride, Urban Meyer, and Kyle Whittingham in college football. He also served for four years on the NCAA D1 men's basketball committee.
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