Hank Dickenson: New AD?

Could the next Athletic Director at North Texas be Hank Dickenson? Ol’ Hank certaintly has experience. Long time athletic department watchers — yes, those people exist — have an anecdote or two that lean toward the man having the chops to make it. The Denton Record Chronicle published this touting the abilities of the man.

Kim Phillips says he was responsible for the good feelings you get on Saturdays when you are able to get free and discounted rides to the stadium, see busineseses stocked with NT gear, and generally enjoy a Denton that supports the football team.

You might know Kim Phillips as the VP of the Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau. She had the unique experience of visiting another University’s game day and wanting to duplicate some of the aura here. I’m sure this is the first time anyone has thought of this.

Firstly, we hoped to ignite a passion within Denton for its green team. I’ve shared in this column before about Tim’s and my baptism into Texas A&M football when our son Chris was in the Corps of Cadets there. Chris has graduated now, but our awe of what happens in College Station on game day has never dimmed. The entirety of College Station pulses with energy and enthusiasm for the Aggies. It was impossible not to be sucked right into it. Game day was fun, an incredible experience whether an Aggie fan or not.

Hank and I want to make that happen in Denton. Our vision was (and still is) Apogee Stadium packed; restaurants and bars booming with business from non-ticket holders; signs all over town and in business windows, promoting “Go Mean Green!” and fans donned in Mean Green gear.

Aside from this kind of fan support being best grown organically in response to true passion and excitement of a winning (or near-winning) sports team, doing the grunt work to make it easier for Dentonites to get behind the team is laudable.

She goes on to mention these efforts beign a way to foster a closer relationship with students and Denton. I found this odd, as I haven’t really known a recent alumnus with a less-than-fond memory of the little d.

Mean Green Game Day is growing each year. It is an expensive venture, though. The buses are free to riders, complete with Mean Green ambassadors revving up crowds with Mean Green spirit. Wayfinding signs, banners in businesses, pompoms and streamers are all part of the campaign’s provisions to amplify a uniquely Denton game day experience.

Wayfinding signs are useful. Community engagement is laudable. I don’t know if this means the administration should hang on to Hank as Athletic Director but it certainly can’t hurt his chances as a ‘horse in the derby’ as he put it.

Recent changes in the North Texas athletics landscape have altered Hank’s title from Deputy Athletic Director to Interim Athletic Director.

That’s putting a happy face on things.

There is more to being an athletic department head than enthusiasm. While an undying love for the university is appreciated, skills and ability matter much more. The love and adoration can come later. I don’t need my defense lawyer to love me to do a capable job presenting my case, after all.

The DRC reported that Hank Dickenson met with the search firm Eastmand & Beaudine last week. There, he had a chance to make his case to the ‘Top Executive Recruiting Firm in College Sports’.

Their website boasts placements such as Scott Drew, Chris Del Conte, Ian McCaw, Steve Alford, June Jones. The sketchy stories surrounding some of those placements is probably more indicative of the collegiate sports industry than the search firm. Still, these are some of the featured placements directly from their site. Good times.

Some of the more consipiratorial folks on the message board are concerned that the Hank Dickenson interview is really a way for the Old Regime to continue it’s reign of terror poor performance. They cite the last time President Smastresk went out a-lookin’ for an AD. Tina Kunzel-Murphy was hired as interim AD of UNLV in 2013 and her subsequent installment as the full-time AD in October of that year.

Hiring Dickenson would be some mighty strong commentary on Rick Villarreal. It would say that RV was holding this athletics department back, despite talented and capable people behind him. If the school goes another way, it likely means that there will be some house cleansing required, and the school would lose whatever quality institutional knowledge that was built up over the RV years — the kind of relationships that Kim Phillips mentioned in her post. It will take the new person some time and effort to rebuild those things.