They don't just poach the coaches. They also gun for the athletic directors!
Starting to be an annual theme is the availability of Brad Bates, AD for Miami University. The name comes up this year because of the football program's rebirth, but due to so many MAC championships in non-revenue sports and also success in the CCHA, the Chicago Tribune says that Bates could be in the mix for the open Fighting Illini position.
I don't know how plausible this is, since going from the MAC to the Big Ten as head of an entire athletic department is a huge leap. But his name just keeps coming up for these jobs. Some secondhand information indicated that Bates might be a candidate for the Tennessee job.
Two years ago Bates was rumored to be in the running for the AD job at Michigan, where he played football. But the position went to former Dominos CEO Dave Brandon. The Michigan job made more sense for him since he was an alumnus as well as in charge of a successful hockey program. Illinois doesn't have that, but Bates has been able to transform one spot into a national power — albeit hockey.
The football team has won two MAC football championships under Bates' reign and one MAC basketball tournament. Bates' dossier also boasts high athlete academic marks and facility renovations. However the basketball program has failed to win a MAC East title despite the 2007 NCAA appearance.
He's under contract for two more years, so at some point another long-term deal may be headed his way. I reckon it would make more sense for him to take another job (if he chooses) at the end of the 2011-12 season just because the timing seems way too late to undertake a large school's helm a month before football season. And if he does, it'd be something on a level between the MAC and the Big Ten, such as the Big East. What's that, you say – UConn may need an AD?