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Dull Concedes His Past

Northridge: Candidate for athletic director acknowledges mistakes at Maryland that were exposed after Len Bias' death.

May 04, 1999|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — Thirteen years is a long penance to serve, and Richard M. Dull believes the time is right for him to once again become a Division I athletic director.

The place: Cal State Northridge.

Dull is the third of four finalists for the athletic director vacancy to appear before a public forum on campus. He opened his comments by acknowledging that decisions he made as Maryland athletic director in 1986 leading up to the death of basketball star Len Bias from a cocaine overdose were mistakes.

"Those kind of experiences can put you through turmoil," he said. "The scrutiny brought attention to mistakes I made. I was encouraged to admit student-athletes who had little chance to succeed academically. My role in encouraging these admissions was a mistake.

"I have vowed never to again broker the admission of a student-athlete, and I told the [Northridge] coaches that."

The Bias episode drove Dull from his post at Maryland. He went into private business designing and marketing sports-related travel packages to executives, but in 1995 he became athletic director at Nebraska Kearney, a Division II school.

He left a year ago to become athletic director at Moravian College, a Division III school of 1,200 students in Bethlehem, Pa.

"I missed the environment of a college," he said. "The best time of my life was when I was athletic director at Maryland--minus about four months."

Any rah-rah college atmosphere was missing at the forum--no students and only two community members attended--underscoring the apathy surrounding Northridge athletics. Dull said his marketing efforts would be aimed primarily at families, not students.

"College athletics is exciting," he said. "We should get children to games through promotions. I'm not interested in beer-drinking tailgaters. You have to build around families.

"And at the same time, identify major corporations and individuals who can help [financially]."

Improved facilities "would prime the pump," he said, adding that money raised from a student referendum this fall would be better used for a multipurpose arena than for a football stadium.

"At a place like Nebraska, a football stadium makes sense," he said. "In this environment, obviously a basketball arena is preferable.

"The opportunities for revenue are greater and the team itself can reach national stature more quickly because you're talking about fewer athletes."

Dull said his first priority would be to mend rifts between the athletic department and academic administrators and faculty.

"You must be active with the academic community," he said. "Don't seclude yourself. We need to repair the unhappiness and bad relationships. Take care of your own house, then look outside."

Raising revenue would come next. Expenditures exceed revenues by $800,000 in next year's proposed budget. Maintaining a broad-based program while balancing the books is a significant challenge, Dull said.

"Everything needs to be an option and nothing is sacred," he said.

That includes cutting sports, which prompted a community outcry the last time it was tried in 1997.

"There is no point repeating what others have done in error," Dull said. "If the revenue base exists to support [a broad-based] program, that's great. But if it turns out there is inadequate support, then cuts are an option."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Richard M. Dull / Profile

Age: 53

* Current Post: Athletic director, Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pa.

* Education: Juris Doctor, Maryland School of Law, 1971; B.A. in political science, Maryland, 1967.

* Previous positions: Athletic director, Nebraska at Kearney, 1995-98; Marketing director, Sports Travel International, 1986-95; Athletic director, Maryland, 1981-86; Assistant athletic director, Maryland, 1980-81; Assistant track coach, Maryland, 1975-80; Attorney at law, 1971-75.

* Professional highlights: Has more than 25 years of managerial, legal and public relations experience, including fund-raising and athletic administration; Nebraska at Kearney ranked 12th among NCAA Division II programs in 1996; Athletic revenues at Maryland increased from $3.7 million to $9 million in five years.

* Personal: Married with one son.

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