UC Irvine has begun interviewing candidates for athletic director, meeting Monday with outgoing New Mexico Athletic Director Gary Ness and scheduling an interview Friday with Brad Rothermel, the former athletic director at Nevada Las Vegas.
Rothermel headed UNLV's athletic department for 10 years before resigning in June, 1990, saying he was tired of the strain of the job. UNLV was involved in the protracted conflict between then-basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian and the NCAA, and also was under a continuing NCAA investigation into the basketball program's involvement with former New York high school star Lloyd Daniels.
Rothermel, who has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology, has been teaching in the university's physical education department since about six months after announcing his resignation.
"I feel there is a great deal of potential (at UC Irvine) that has yet to be realized," Rothermel said. "I'd like to get a better sense of what their hopes, aims and objectives are for their programs."
Ness, reached at an Irvine hotel, said he had met with a couple of UC Irvine officials Monday and remains interested in the job.
Ness was named interim athletic director at New Mexico in 1988, with the understanding that he was not a candidate for the position. Gerald May, then the university president, later changed his mind and appointed Ness permanently. But May was later replaced as president by Richard Peck, who notified Ness this summer that his contract would not be renewed.
UC Irvine is seeking a replacement for Tom Ford, who resigned in July to become assistant executive director of the National Assn. of Basketball Coaches.
A nine-member search committee headed by James McGaugh, a professor who is the director of UCI's Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, is expected to interview about five candidates beginning this week. McGaugh has declined to release the names of those who are being interviewed. The final selection is to be made by Horace Mitchell, vice chancellor for student affairs.
Among other applicants with experience heading Division I programs is Fairleigh Dickinson Athletic Director Roy Danforth. Danforth, a former basketball coach at Syracuse and Tulane, guided Syracuse to the 1975 Final Four.
Perhaps the most prominent local applicant, Judith Holland, an associate athletic director at UCLA, said she has withdrawn her application.
"I'm just more interested in staying where I am," said Holland, who informed Irvine of her decision last week.