February 12, 2008
TALLAHASSEE Few were surprised when, at the end of a week of interviews, Florida State president T.K. Wetherell came to the conclusion that Utah State athletic director Randy Spetman was the man he wanted to replace Dave Hart as the Seminoles' sports chief.
Unlike the other three candidates Wayne Hogan, Martin Mayhew and Don Smiley Spetman had spent time visiting with Wetherell at the NCAA Convention in Nashville in early January.
For weeks, Spetman's name had been bandied about as the front-runner for the job, despite the fact that his application hadn't shown up in FSU's personnel office until after the interviews had begun. The unanimous approval by the Wetherell-appointed committee to extend an invitation for Spetman to interview four days after his application was received seemed to support the open-and-shut search.
Spetman was interviewed on Feb. 1, and Wetherell offered him the post a day later. All that was left was the official announcement. Moments before tip-off of the Feb. 3 basketball game with North Carolina, a press release was issued, announcing a Feb. 4 press conference at 10 a.m. for the announcement.
No surprise, right? Well, it was if your name wasn't Spetman.
In its haste to bring the drawn-out search to a conclusion, FSU failed to notify the consolation candidates that the school had made its decision. Sadly, that news came indirectly from members of the media, who contacted Hogan and Mayhew on Feb. 3 to inquire whether they would be traveling to Tallahassee for the press conference.
It's unknown whether the responsibility to make those courtesy calls in advance of a press conference announcement fell on Wetherell or someone else within the university. What is known is that two men with FSU degrees, along with a passion for the university and its athletic program, deserved better.
Hogan, who concluded his Jan. 28 interview by saying, "I hope you don't forget me by Friday," was crestfallen. The former FSU sports information director, interim athletic director and Tallahassee native was easily the most impressive of the four candidates during his interview before the 24-member committee, so much so that he received a rousing ovation from the group at the conclusion of his interview.
No one else could make that claim.
Mayhew, the assistant general manager of the NFL's Detroit Lions and one of that league's highest-ranking African-Americans, was sought out by FSU to apply for the job. A Tallahassee native like Hogan, Mayhew was a standout for the Seminoles and during his decade-long NFL career. Though he lacks collegiate administrative experience, the former Academic All-American holds a Georgetown law degree.
Entering the interview process, Hogan and Mayhew appeared to be the front-runners, if for no other reason than Wetherell had told members of the FSU coaching staff that he intended to hire someone with ties to the school.
As it turned out, he chose Spetman, a decorated Air Force colonel who spent seven years as the athletic director at the Air Force Academy and the past three-plus years at Utah State.
"Randy Spetman has a strong record of leadership with honesty and integrity," Wetherell said. "His experience and organizational and management skills set him apart as one of the best athletics directors in the country."
Whether FSU can look in the mirror and make the same claim certainly is open for debate.
In something of an ironic twist, just as Wetherell was introducing Spetman as the Seminoles' new AD, a cell phone rang at the press conference. The phone belonged to long-time university communications director Frank Murphy.
Apparently, the school still was taking calls, even though it lacked the courtesy to place a few to the deserving job candidates who were bypassed in the process.
HAMILTON CONTRACT CONFUSION
Perhaps one of Spetman's first job duties will be correcting the mess the school has made of basketball coach Leonard Hamilton's contract.
On Nov. 8, 2007, Wetherell announced that he was extending Hamilton's contract for two seasons, through the 2011-12 campaign. That extension was announced just days before Hamilton reeled in a consensus top-10 recruiting class during the early signing period.
Three months later, that contract extension had yet to be executed.
When asked on at least two occasions in the last three weeks, Wetherell has said there is no problem with Hamilton's contract. In fact, he heartily has endorsed the efforts of the sixth-year coach, whose team has been rocked by injuries, transfers, suspension and an inability to finish off opponents.
It's unclear whether Wetherell is aware that the initial contract extension put before Hamilton which he signed on Nov. 28 (along with Hamilton and special assistant to the president Bill Proctor) actually removed a year from the coach's existing deal.
The amendment to employment agreement stated that the university was adding two additional contract years after the current agreement ends April 30, 2009.
The problem: Hamilton signed an extension with Hart back in 2004 that carried him through April 2010.
Though neither side appears to have questions about the validity of Wetherell's extension offer, the sloppy administrative handling of the deal reflects poorly on an athletic department that has been gutted of its senior management since October, while trying to cope with an investigation into an academic misconduct scandal.
SWANN INJURY DESTROYS DEPTH
Things were tough on the court for Hamilton's squad. It made the turn in the ACC schedule with a 2-6 record, which appears to have doomed the Seminoles to a conference-long, 10-year drought between NCAA appearances.
Then, on a night when the Seminoles mustered a rare league road win at Miami to snap a three-game slide, they lost senior guard Isaiah Swann to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Swann, the team's third-leading scorer, likely is lost for the season.
His injury came as the Seminoles tried to lock down nothing less than a winning record and maintain the slim hope of getting back to .500 in ACC play against a softer second-half schedule.
Hamilton already had lost 7-0 freshman center Solomon Alabi for the season to stress-fracture surgery, played nine games without suspended center Ryan Reid and limited the minutes of freshman forward Julian Vaughn because of a health issue. Hamilton also had a pair of reserves transfer at the end of the first semester.
Swann's injury came just two games after he was replaced by Ralph Mims in the starting lineup, a move that appeared to be paying dividends. Mims is a superior defender, makes sound decisions and can spell Toney Douglas on some ball-handling responsibilities.
In turn, Swann gave the Seminoles a bona fide scoring threat off the bench. That's no longer an option, as Hamilton will be forced to use freshman Jordan DeMercy (1.2 ppg) and junior walk-on Brian Hoff (1.5) more frequently down the stretch as subs on the wing.
FSU's interior options off the bench, at least offensively, aren't much better. Vaughn is averaging 2.9 points, and walk-on Matt Zitani is contributing just 1.5 per game.