Michael Adams keeps denying, sort of, that he’s interested in being the NCAA president. Funny thing, though. More than a few folks believe otherwise.
To the Associated Press back in September, Adams said this: “I’d never talk publicly about two things, jobs or money. I love the University of Georgia. My plan is to be here until retirement.”
To the AP during the NCAA convention here last week: “We’re Georgians. We love it here. My family is happy here, and if the Regents will let me stay, I expect to be here. Is that clear enough?”
Uh, not really. Neither time did Adams say, “If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.” He has left the door ajar just enough that nobody is counting him out.
Here, from Steve Wieberg of USA Today — I should note that Mr. Wieberg knows the inner workings of the NCAA better than any outsider — is this breakdown:
“Penn State president Graham Spanier, who once led the Division I board of directors and remains active in the NCAA, also has support as a prospective candidate, say several people within the NCAA who talked on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the search. Georgia president Michael Adams is another widely speculated but less certain prospect, according to those same people.
“Another name submitted to the search firm is Donna Shalala, who spent eight years as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton and has been president at Miami (Fla.) since 2001.
“Shalala … said via e-mail: ‘I am not a candidate and really have no interest. I am sure there are good candidates.’ “
See? That’s a denial.
If Adams is interested — and he was a close associate of the late NCAA president Myles Brand, who died in September — it makes sense to soft-pedal it. He has overplayed his hand before: During the messy back-and-forth with Vince Dooley, whom Adams shoved aside as athletics director, and again when he advocated in January 2008 that the BCS be junked in favor of a playoff system. (The proposal, for which Adams believed there was broad support, never came to a vote.)
And it’s unclear how many allies Adams truly has. He’s an indefatigable networker, but many in collegiate circles recall that he recommended Dooley interview Jim Harrick for the Georgia basketball job back in 1999, and many also recall that Adams overruled his AD in 2000 and fired Jim Donnan, who had won 67 percent of his games.
But there’s also this to consider: Parker Executive Search of Atlanta is doing the NCAA’s headhunting, and that firm who ran the search when Adams was hired by UGA in the first place. Georgia has continued to throw business Dan Parker’s way: The searches for the AD to replace Dooley (turned out to be Damon Evans, who was working down the hall) and the basketball coach to replace Dennis Felton (turned out to be Mark Fox) were also Parker productions.
Wieberg reports the NCAA wants to have a new president by summer. Could UGA be about to bid adieu to its Prez? Despite Adams’ protestations, there’s a good chance he’ll be headed to Indianapolis. And if he does, you folks out there would feel … how?