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FAMU President Ammons still looking for program's next AD
James Ammons knows exactly what he’s looking for in the two finalists for Florida A&M athletic director.
And, it’s not someone with a strong coaching background.
Interim AD Mike Smith interviewed Wednesday for the position that has been vacant since December when Bill Hayes resigned. Ammons didn’t disclose the name of the second candidate during an interview Tuesday, but sources have named University of Mississippi associate athletic director for external affairs Derrick Horne as that person.
Horne is expected to meet with athletic department personnel this morning before Ammons makes his choice. That decision will be made before the start of the football season, Ammons said.
FAMU also is faced with having to fill five coaching vacancies within the next two months. Baseball has been without a head coach since Robert Lucas was fired in May, and the search also is under way to find head coaches for swimming and men’s track and field. Men’s and women’s basketball have vacancies for assistant coaches. Candidates for all of the vacant positions except swimming are being reviewed or interviewed.
A strength and conditioning coach was recently added to the to-do list when Antonio Wallace refused to re-sign an Other Personnel Services contract, without benefits.
Finding an athletic director has taken priority with the football season fast approaching. Both Smith and Horne are former athletes, but neither have coached on the college level. That suits Ammons just fine.
“I don’t need another coach,” Ammons said Tuesday. “I need someone who knows, understands and appreciates the business of athletics — the fundraising, the marketing, the managing. Managing the resources that we have.”
Smith might have the edge there, in only his short-term experience. He’s been getting good reviews from coaches and he comes with a financial management background as the former director of business and auxiliary services. Smith also is playing an integral role in helping the athletic department reduce a funding deficit that is down to $4.6 million.
Horne’s background indicates that he is seasoned in athletic management and fundraising. He also has a knack for appealing to alumnus and activities management, according to his brief biography on the Ole Miss website.
Horne is in his 14th year with the Ole Miss athletic department and that might weigh heavily in his favor.
“It’s very important that we get someone that embraces the overall mission of Florida A&M University, but is also passionate about winning,” Ammons said. “We’ve got to get our athletic program on a championship level. We’re going to work hard anyway so we might as well be champions. That’s what we’re looking for.”
While FAMU moves closer to deciding on an AD, it also is down to a handful of finalists for the men’s track coach position. More than 100 applicants have applied for the baseball job and the other vacancies are still being advertised.
Ammons said he wouldn’t mind filling some of those positions before the new athletic director is hired.
“I think whoever the AD is will agree with us if we get some of these things done before they get here,” Ammons said. “I think it’s important for the student-athletes to have someone to connect with, and also parents and perspective athletes.”
By St. Clair Murraine
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER