UNLV athletic director emerges as likely Marshall candidate

Position would bring Mike Hamrick back home to West Virginia

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Mike Hamrick

UNLV athletic director Mike Hamrick proudly hangs his framed white Marshall football jersey, bearing green 92 numerals, in the upstairs family room of his Seven Hills house.

Antlers, maybe a dozen points, hang on another wall.

Both offer some insight about where home is for Hamrick, a hunter who might be heading back to his native West Virginia.

According to many sources, Hamrick, 52, is a serious candidate for the athletic director post at Marshall University, his alma mater.

In recent days, Hamrick is believed to have interviewed, in Dallas, with the executive recruitment firm of Eastman & Beaudine, a search Marshall paid $50,000 for E&B to conduct far from West Virginia.

Hamrick could not be reached for comment and he did not return several phone messages.

He hails from Elkview, W.Va., about 45 minutes from the Marshall campus in Huntington, he played linebacker on the Thundering Herd football team and he graduated from the school in 1980.

Hamrick is easily the best fit for Marshall among four finalists, wrote Chuck Landon, a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington. “Hamrick’s the man,” read the headline on Landon’s story Friday.

“Hamrick should be the clear-cut choice,” Landon wrote. “Marshall’s foundering athletics need a seasoned hand on the wheel if this ship is to be righted. Hamrick is the only (candidate) that possesses that experience.”

Other candidates include UCLA senior associate athletic director Ross Bjork, Texas-El Paso senior associate athletic director Brian Wickstrom, and either University of San Diego associate athletic director Steve Becvar or SMU deputy athletic director Mike Vaught.

After seven years, Bob Marcum retired as Marshall’s athletic director this summer. David Steele has been the interim director over the past few weeks.

Marshall chief of staff Bill Bissett told the Charleston Daily Mail that the process is moving “at a quicker speed than expected.”

One source believed Hamrick would be offered the job over the weekend. Another source said Hamrick taking the Marshall job is imminent and that the end of July is an accurate timetable.

Marshall has had four consecutive losing football seasons and has slipped in attendance and fundraising, and significant budget cuts are around the corner.

Going home, though, might be too attractive for Hamrick, especially given an uncertain climate at UNLV. Hamrick’s boss, David Ashley, was recently demoted from the presidency of the university, so job security could be an issue.

Hamrick makes $287,000 on a UNLV contract that expires in June 2010. Marcum’s last annual salary at Marshall was $110,000. The average Conference USA athletic director earns $280,000 a year.

Marshall apparently likes Hamrick’s ties to the school and his track record. In eight seasons at East Carolina, Hamrick oversaw $46 million in facility improvements.

Hamrick was hired at UNLV by former president Carol Harter in August 2003. He spearheaded $11 million in facility improvements and inked a significant partnership with ISP Sports.

Hamrick’s hiring of Lon Kruger, with key guidance from former UNLV athletic director Brad Rothermel, turned around the Rebels basketball program.

In 2007 and 2008, UNLV won games in consecutive NCAA basketball tournaments for the first time since Jerry Tarkanian accomplished the feat in 1990 and 1991.

The football program had been stagnant under Mike Sanford, another Hamrick hire. But the Rebels were on the verge of a winning season in 2008, after strong victories at Arizona State and at home against Iowa State, before fading and finishing 5-7.

The academic performance of UNLV student-athletes also has been dramatically boosted under Hamrick’s tenure.

There has been no indication of how UNLV would proceed should it lose Hamrick to Marshall.

Sun reporter Ryan Greene contributed to this report.

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  1. Mike is a class act and a very good AD. UNLV should not let this happen. Lets hope the lure to go back home is not as strong as it seems and Hamrick can continue to build the program.

  2. Smart move. Jumping to a new job buys him at least 5 years of the big bucks.

  3. UNLV can do better. Never been too impressed. And he sucks at promoting women's athletics.

  4. WTK - Hamrick offered a fair degree of stability. Even if there wasn't a huge push forward - and in basketball there certainly was - the sports programs were relatively stable (once he got his coaches in there).

    Has any Mountain West school had an athletic director that's made a tremendous difference? I think the best an AD can do is keep a school from falling behind and hope to get lucky hiring some good coaches as time goes on.

  5. Hammrick is a solid AD. UNLV should try to keep him. The problem is that he is worried about his future with that moron Jim Rogers and the wacky Regents. He's afraid they'll roast him like they did Ashley.

  6. As a long time supporter and graduate of UNLV, I truly believe the rebs will miss ole Hammy. Every time I saw him at basketball games, he remembered my name and was always friendly. I disagreed with a few of his decisions but overall he has done a great job running the whole department.

    I really like the fact that he put so much emphasis on the academic side of student-athlete and the grades have never been better. He ran the program the right way and with no NCAA violations. What more could you want in an AD? And thank God he hired Kruger.

  7. This may end up being the greatest thing to ever happen for UNLV athletics. Anyone in the know is aware he was not the guy who brought in Kruger and his big hire, Sanford, will most likely be gone by the end of football season. Lets get someone in there who does not inspire hatred among most boosters and will be more than willing to glad-hand the bigwigs.

  8. i agree with dunks. he got lucky with kruger, and sandford should be back as an assistant coach somewhere.