Baird Named Athletic Assistant to the President

Thursday saw more changes inthe Auburn Athletic Department as Hal Baird was given an expanded role.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn Interim President Dr. Ed Richardson announced on Thursday that he has named Hal Baird athletic assistant to the president. This come on the heels of last week's announcement that David Housel would retire as athletic director at the end of 2004.

In an expanded role from senior associate athletic Director, a position Baird has held since November of 2000, the former Auburn baseball coach will expand his role in the day-to-day operations of the athletic department with Housel's duties diminishing as he nears retirement.

Baird added that he believed he would be handling the personnel decisions of the department as well. "We have had a couple of discussions and my interpretation of that answer would be yes," he said.

On Thursday Baird explained that he believed this was just another step in the direction for a new look in Auburn athletics. "Clearly there are changes and have been changes going on with the university over the last few weeks and months and I think this is part of the changing face of what is going on at Auburn," Baird said. "I am not so sure that it's all that different with regard to what my duties are going to be, but it is part of Dr. Richardson's plan to transition the administration from David's leadership as athletic director toward the new permanent one whenever that would be.

"But, I am pleased to have an opportunity to continue working at Auburn and with some additional responsibilities as we go through this phase," Baird noted. "I think it is an important time for the athletic department and for the university and I hope that I can make some positive contributions to that change."

The former baseball head coach did say, however, that despite his eagerness to help during the transition phase that he does not plan on making it a permanent endeavor. "I can't think of any reason or any scenario," Baird said when asked if he was interested in being named athletic director. "To me permanence is something in excess of a year or two and truly in my mind, I was a player and a coach for 31 years in baseball and to whatever extent that career was, that was my career. I have enjoyed this period of time. I look forward to trying to make positive contributions, but I do not have a five or ten year commitment in me in a position in this."

Baird noted that he would likely stay in the position until things are back to normal in the athletic department even if it was for a longer period of time than initially expected.

"I think the commitment I made to the president would be that I would serve until a new and permanent athletic director was on board," Baird said. "I am not sure what his timetable is for that, but if it exceeded January of '05 by some reasonable amount of time I would be happy to serve until that point and I am not sure that is his target date.

"I think there are some other matters that are more pressing in his mind right now and I am hoping that I will be able to provide enough comfort that he can address those first, but I guess we will have to see about that."

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