NOT YOUR STEPPIN' STONE

The old saying that, "You can't go home again" obviously doesn't apply to college athletics. If anything, it's just the reverse. Mike Riley left his job as head coach at Oregon State for the pros, only to return when that experiment didn't work. Butch Davis left his post as a Miami football assistant, only to return to the head job a few years later. Gary Barnett made a 'triumphant' return to Colorado, and so on, and so on.

With that in mind, we can't begrudge Jeff Hathaway the wonderful opportunity to return to the University of Connecticut to take over as the Athletic Director. By every account, he did a very solid job in his short stay as the AD at Colorado State, as did his predecessor, Tim Weiser, who also left CSU to return home when he left for Kansas State.

It means, however, that once again, when the dust settles, CSU is left with a high profile vacancy. CSU officials have stated that they'll begin a 'national search' for Hathaway's replacement immediately, and hope to have a new AD in place by August.

Memo to CSU President Albert Yates: Rather than fight the trend, it's time for Colorado State to embrace it.

No one wants to have his or her school used as a stepping-stone, which is what CSU has become for anyone who isn't Sonny Lubick. This time around, when it comes to choosing the next AD, go after someone with CSU roots and CSU loyalties.

The right guy is not far away.

The perfect guy for the job? Keli McGregor. Not that this is a new idea –Keli, currently the President of the Colorado Rockies – has been mentioned every time there's been an opening in the CSU athletic department. He's a former Ram All-America football player, a Colorado native, and has a wealth of experience not only in pro baseball, but in college administration as well, having worked at the Universities of Florida and Arkansas as an assistant AD.

It's likely that Dr. Yates, the outgoing University President, has already called and spoken to Keli about this recent opening. McGregor has turned down previous overtures to return to Fort Collins, but he's been very, very…very interested.

It's just that there's been this stumbling block… Cash. Large amounts of it.

McGregor makes a very nice living running things for the ownership of the Rockies. His long time friendship with Rockies co-owner Jerry McMorris is well documented, and he has progressed nicely up the management ladder at Coors Field.

But in the current financial climate of Major League Baseball, there's certainly no certainty that McMorris and the Monfort Brothers will own the Rockies five or ten years from now. And if there were an ownership change, it's likely the new boss would bring in his own people to run things. In short, while the big money is there right now, there's not a ton of long-term job security in his current position.

McGregor's past refusals should not stop the CSU people from trying again. And again, and again if necessary. The time is right for him to make the move. McGregor's heart is in Fort Collins, and he's very close to Lubick. Keli wants the job, now it's up to someone in Fort Collins to come up with the financing.

The AD job at Colorado State offers much of what he does not have as an executive in Major League Baseball. But as things stand right now, McGregor would have to take a big pay cut to return home. That means money is probably the only thing standing between Colorado State and the perfect guy for the job.

Dr. Yates, get creative, get busy, and get the right guy for the job.


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