CCU President DeCenzo expects to appoint search committee soon to find new athletic director

ryoung@thesunnews.comFebruary 21, 2014 

Coastal Carolina University President David DeCenzo hadn’t even made it back to town since the news became public that director of athletics Hunter Yurachek would be leaving next month for a job at the University of Houston, and he was already being inundated with interest about the position.

Yurachek announced Thursday that after four years running the Coastal athletic department, he will leave in the middle of March to become the vice president and chief operating officer for intercollegiate athletics at Houston.

DeCenzo has been away at the NCAA’s Committee on Institutional Performance in Indianapolis and was speaking by phone from the airport Friday as he stated he’d like to find a new athletic director as quickly as he can.

“I was out of a town at the meeting, I had my phone on silent, [but] I have been getting considerable calls, emails, text messages,” DeCenzo said. “My office has been getting calls, notes sent it. A couple others on campus have been getting calls. It’s a good sign there’s significant interest in what we’re going to be doing … [but] I really haven’t had a chance to sit down [and look at it].”

DeCenzo expects to have an interim athletic director in place once Yurachek steps aside around March 15. In the meantime, he also hopes to meet with Coastal coaches to solicit input on the vacancy and plans to form a diverse search committee next week to shepherd the university through the process.

He did not provide a firm timetable on when he hopes to ultimately make a hire, though.

“Obviously we’re going to look for somebody that is well versed in the sporting world. We’re looking for somebody who has a vision of where our program can go and what that person can do to implement that vision,” he said. “We’ve got a great foundation that Hunter has put in place the last several years and we want [to keep moving forward].”

The job will be formerly posted next week as human resources is in the process of reviewing a draft of the ad, DeCenzo said.

Asked if there are any in-house candidates under consideration, DeCenzo said it was “probably too early to tell.”

Yurachek spoke at length Thursday about his decision to move on from Coastal after a busy four years that saw the Chants complete construction of The HTC Center, make upgrades to Brooks Stadium and other facilities and launch construction for new baseball and softball stadiums. Coastal teams combined for 29 Big South Conference regular-season and tournament championships in that span and made 30 NCAA postseason appearances, and Yurachek was involved in the hiring of seven new head coaches.

Among other highlights, the baseball program has remained a fixture on the national stage by extending its streak of seven straight NCAA Regional appearances, the men’s soccer program has become a perennial top-20 program that reached the third round of the NCAA tournament each of the last two years and the football program had its best season in 2013 with a 12-3 record while advancing to the third round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the first time.

“It’s a mixed reaction,” DeCenzo said of Yurachek’s pending departure. “On one hand, you always hate to see somebody leave, especially when they’ve had some success for us. Clearly he has done a lot for the athletic program and I’m very proud of his accomplishments. On the other hand, if you truly believe in the spirit of mentoring and helping your employees reach their career goals, you have to take a little bit of pride in the fact that he was able to advance his career. That’s where the mixed emotion comes in. I’m very happy for his family.”

And the news wasn’t a surprise, DeCenzo added. Yurachek had never hidden his ambitions to continue moving up in his career – with the ultimate goal of becoming an athletic director at a school in one of the major conferences one day.

The move to Houston, where he’ll be the second in command with significant responsibility in managing the day-to-day operations of the athletic department, takes him to a much larger institution with a combined undergraduate and graduate enrollment of more than 40,000 and a greater share of the NCAA spotlight.

“When interviewing Hunter four and a half years or so ago, the one thing we had talked about was his commitment of time,” DeCenzo said. “His whole discussion with me at that point was his eldest son was going to be in high school and certainly he wanted stability for his son and while he was in high school he would not be looking [elsewhere].

“So I knew with his son graduating this year, and his second son will be getting into high school soon, that if he was going to make a move this was probably the time. It was not a great surprise that the timing worked out the way that it did. He fulfilled that original promise.”

Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.

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