Texas A&M had two goals in mind in replacing former athletic director Bill Byrne: make a splash hire and have everything done by July 1, the official date of A&M's entrance into the Southeastern Conference. It looks like that both possibilities are going to become reality as South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman resigned today and it is expected that he will become the new athletic director at A&M.
"We wish Eric well in his next endeavor. The University of South Carolina bears the marks of his leadership- from enhanced facilities to the hiring of strong coaches to higher student graduation rates," Dr. Harris Pastides said. "We will miss him on our team, but his legacy has made us stronger."
"I am very excited for the opportunity to help transition Texas A&M into the Southeastern Conference," said Hyman. "While this is a tremendous opportunity, the downside is leaving all the dedicated and loyal fans in Gamecock Nation and the best athletic department in the country. Pauline and I have loved living in Columbia. It will be sad to leave all the wonderful friends we have made."
Signs of Hyman's hiring began to appear Wednesday, after Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich's name was linked to the A&M job but he indicated to people in Atlanta that he was not the leading candidate at A&M. More information proceeded to filter out on Thursday that Hyman was that candidate. Hyman attended a retirement celebration for his administrative assistant, Emily White, on Thursday afternoon. According to a source, although Hyman refused to discuss the A&M position, it was acknowledged that he was meeting USC President Harris Pastides on Friday morning. South Carolina's board of trustees had a meeting scheduled for 11:00 AM CST and shortly after it began word leaked out that Hyman was headed to College Station.
A&M had a teleconference of its own board of regents at 2:00 PM and according to the agenda, the regents authorized A&M president R. Bowen Loftin to identify a candidate and "negotiate and execute an employment agreement with such candidate as Texas A&M University's Athletic Director."
Although South Carolina's board of trustee's could have made a serious run at keeping Hyman, he is currently making a little under $500,000 annually and Byrne was being paid $690,000 plus bonuses when he retired in May. In addition, his children live in Fort Worth where he was athletic director at TCU for seven years. Thus, family ties may have counted for more in A&M's favor than money.
Hyman has had success both on and off the field at USC. The baseball team captured College World Series titles in 2009 and 2010, the football team just went to its seventh bowl game, and in the 2009-2010 academic year nine of the school's 20 athletic programs finished in the top 25 nationally. USC has been through a $200 million master plan regarding its facilities which includes a baseball facility, upgrades to Williams-Brice Stadium, and the conversion of the Farmers' Market into a football parking lot and tailgating area. Academically, USC athletes have an average GPA in excess of 3.0. Previously, Hyman served as the athletic director at TCU where he helped improve the athletic performance of all sports, helped raise over $30 million for facilities, and oversaw TCU through conference realignment not once but twice.
Hyman is the "big splash" that A&M has sought since it was announced that Byrne was retiring as it would be luring not just a BCS level athletic director but a successful one from a competing SEC program who will become A&M's permanent Eastern Division rival beginning in 2013. In addition, with the A&M board of regents meeting today and Hyman's resignation, a press conference for tomorrow at 4 p.m. has been scheduled to introduce Hyman to the Aggie press corps.
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