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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

New Arizona athletic director hired

Greg Byrne
Greg Byrne

President Robert Shelton announced Monday that Greg Byrne, current athletic director at Mississippi State University, would take over as athletic director at the UA with the Arizona Board of Regents approval.

“”From my perspective, this is a very exciting day for the University of Arizona athletics,”” Shelton said. “”He’s very excited about coming. I want to make it clear that we had quite a process in arriving at this gentleman, and I am thrilled that he is coming to the University of Arizona.””

Pending ABOR approval in a meeting on April 30, Byrne, an ASU graduate, would take over athletic director duties from interim Athletic Director Kathleen “”Rocky”” LaRose starting May 1. Jim Livengood, who served as Arizona’s athletic director for 16 years, left for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on December 17, 2009.

“”Arizona is one of the truly elite programs,”” Byrne said in an Arizona press statement released Monday. “”They have great traditions, great support from their fans and a deeply rooted commitment to helping student-athletes succeed.””

If the hire is approved, Byrne’s salary will start at $390,000 in addition to any academic and athletic incentives, Shelton said.

In 2009, then-athletic director Livengood’s salary was $372,600.

“”I made every effort to convince Greg to remain in Starkville, (Miss.), including offering a generous package of financial incentives, but as he conveyed to me, his decision was driven by family considerations more than financial compensation,”” said MSU president Dr. Mark Keenum in a statement released Monday.

Byrne has been the athletic director at MSU since February 2008. During that time, Byrne hired three head coaches, including head football coach Dan Mullen.

Prior to that experience, Byrne was involved with two athletics departments in the Pacific 10 Conference, serving as regional director of development for the athletic department at the University of Oregon for three years before moving to Oregon State University as associate athletic director for development. Byrne also served as associate athletic director for development and fundraising at the University of Kentucky from 2002 to 2005 before taking the position at MSU.

In a press statement, Byrne said his decision to take the job in Arizona was aided by his prior experience on the West Coast.

“”While I am excited about a new opportunity, I am heartbroken to be leaving a lot of friends,”” Byrne said. “”There is little question that this decision is a good one for my family. It places us back in a part of the country with which we are familiar, one that returns us near family and life-long friends.””

The familiarity with the Pac-10 is a qualification Shelton said he was looking for in the next Arizona athletic director.

“”First of all, someone who had familiarity with this region, with the Pac-10,”” Shelton said. “”Secondly, (the) commitment to the academic side. He’s had great success in raising all the (athletic) numbers. And then somebody that has been very successful in hiring coaches and raising funds. We look for the whole package.””

In his involvement with collegiate athletics, Byrne has had a specific emphasis in fundraising, tallying $120 million in gifts.

Shelton said he had “”conversations”” with five other candidates, but that Byrne was the only one he actively pursued.

“”He has done a great job both on the athletic side and on the academic side,”” Shelton said. “”He is someone that I think fits in with the model of a student athlete, the way indeed that all of our coaches and our athletic staff celebrate both the academic and athletic side of what it means to be a Wildcat and what it means to be a student athlete here at the University of Arizona.””

 

The Byrne File

Age: 38

Education: ASU 1994 bachelor’s degree, Mississippi State master’s degree

Last College: Mississippi State University athletic director

Family: Greg Bryne is the son of Bill Byrne, the athletic director at Texas A&M for the past six years. The experienced Bill Byrne has been an athletic director for more than 25 years in NCAA Division I athletics.

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