Richardson Says Choosing AD Was Toughest Call

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn University interim president Dr. Ed Richardson has developed a reputation for not dancing around the tough issues:189847

He enhanced that image on Wednesday as he announced that Jay Jacobs is the new athletic director while making it clear what his expectations are for Jacobs, who was promoted to the post from his current position as association athletic director for development, which is a fund-raising job.

Jacobs, a former Auburn football player in the early 1980s, has worked in a variety of jobs at AU for almost two decades as a coach and administrator. Richardson called Jacobs at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday to give the new him the news that he will be Auburn's next athletic director. Jacobs will take over his new job immediately following the Auburn football team's Jan. 3rd game at the Sugar Bowl. He takes over for David Housel.

"I will have to tell you it has been the most difficult decision I have made since I have been here at Auburn," Richardson said. There were two major reasons why I thought this was a tough call.

"First, the applicants that we had, all of them, there was a good pool and certainly the final four were all very well qualified. All had major strengths. It was just very difficult to decide which one. We only needed one. That was the major problem.

"The second reason, for me this sets the stage for the future, for some extent for Auburn University as well as Auburn athletics because what I wanted to do is to have an athletic director that would be able to be his own person, to be able to make the decisions necessary to move this department forward and would be here for a long time so we could have that continuity that is so needed in this position and most any other positions. For those two reasons, Hal (Baird) and I struggled.

Jay Jacobs is shown after being introduced as athletic director by Richardson and his special assistant for athletic affairs, Hal Baird.

"The person we selected, you know, is an Auburn person," Richardson said. "He has played a role in many different capacities here. He is familiar, not only with personalities here, but the programs. I am convinced after having many conversations with him, four I believe...I am convinced he is totally committed to Auburn and totally committed to what it takes to doing what it takes to make sure this department continues to move forward.

"He has received, I don't know how many expressions of support from all over the southeastern United States," Richardson noted. "I continued to get them as late as today. They all spoke to his ability and character, even those who wanted me to chose somebody else they all acknowledged his ability and character. There were never any negatives associated with that.

"The only negative as we looked at it didn't have anything to do with Jay, but had to do with the perception that he was unduly close to trustees and therefore by implication would not be able to make his own decision. That was a big concern of mine. So I want you to know that I have researched that very carefully.

"I have asked some very pointed questions not only to Jay, but others, including trustees and I am absolutely convinced there is no basis for making that charge or accusation at all. There exists a vocal minority that maintains that trustees or boosters will have an undue influence on athletics. In fact, if you follow their logic, anyone who had walked across this campus twice is ineligible because you might have been influenced by somebody, but I would say to you that it is my observation that Jay is the person.

"We have not had any problems, and I think Hal will confirm that, with influence this past year and I don't anticipate any undue influence in the future. I think it is time for all true Auburn fans, and when I say true Auburn fans those who are interested in Auburn, not individual programs or themselves, to step forward to support this university in light of this very specific appointment to support our athletic program.

"I remain confident that Auburn's future is very bright, both academically and athleticially, and has a very promising future," Richardson added. "I am very confident that today's decision will bear that out in months to come."

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