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USF athletic director search nearing its end

TAMPA — The search for USF's next athletic director is nearing its end.

Search committee chair William Sutton said he hopes to submit a candidate to president Judy Genshaft later this week with a hire likely coming by July 4. Sutton did not name any specific candidates during a meeting Monday afternoon with four other members of the search committee, but he did reiterate criteria for the next AD.

Sutton said USF wants a proven leader, preferably with previous AD experience and local ties. Keeping an eye on the future is critical, Sutton said, especially in the realm of conference realignment when the Big 12's media rights deal expires next decade.

"If there's going to be a change, that's going to be the trigger," Sutton said. "There's a lot of speculation right now that the Big 12 will expand. There's also speculation that the big five (conferences) will become the big four, and each conference will have 16 teams. No one knows exactly how it's going to play out, but we need somebody who's tuned into that and can get us in the conversation."

USF also needs someone with high integrity and a character that's "above reproach," Sutton said.

"No dirty laundry. That's important…" Sutton said. "To do anything to undermine (USF's status as a preeminent university) would be crazy. We're going to be in a position where we're going to do the right thing for the right reasons, and that's what we're going to do."

After the meeting, I asked Sutton whether that means former Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich is a candidate. Sutton politely declined to discuss any specific names.

RELATED: The pros and cons of Tom Jurich as potential USF AD candidate

Names that my colleague, Joey Knight, and I have heard include Jurich and former Arkansas AD Jeff Long. 

Sutton said about 90 percent of the candidates are currently employed, and none have been brought to campus yet. The next step will be for Sutton to go back to the search firm and reconsider the pool of candidates before sending a name to Genshaft.

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