COLUMBIA— Outgoing South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman said the job he’s leaving is vastly different than the one he took over seven years ago.
Hyman said the school needed to update facilities and increase revenue when he came to campus in 2005. He says much of that has been accomplished and he’d suggest his successor should be someone who’ll stay the course.
“There’s a different skill set that’s needed than was needed before,” Hyman said Tuesday. “I don’t think a person needs to come in and build. You’ve got a system in place.”
Hyman resigned June 29 to become AD for Texas A&M.
He’ll spend the next couple of weeks tying up loose ends and start in College Station in mid-August.
He said it was difficult at first getting university and government leaders to see South Carolina had to invest more to succeed in the Southeastern Conference. Now, the school is well into a $200 million reshaping of athletic facilities, including a new administration building and third-story AD’s office Hyman won’t fully move into.
“I’ll be here a couple of weeks,” Hyman joked. “I’ll make it toxic for the next” athletic director.
South Carolina’s next AD won’t have the infrastructure and fund-raising challenges Hyman faced seven years ago.
Once aging courts, fields and buildings are coming down and will be replaced modern structures. The upgrades this fall for Williams-Brice Stadium include a $6.5 million video board that will be the third largest in the SEC at 36 feet by 124 feet.
A new, $30 million tailgating area is being built next to the stadium in what had formerly been home to the State Farmer’s Market.
A new softball stadium and landscaping work is ongoing alongside the just opened Rice Coach’s Support Building, all part of a $200 million building plan.
Hyman can monitor it all from what would have been his new office. Since Hyman’s resignation, there’s been a rising tide of support for two-time national champion baseball coach Ray Tanner to take over the department. Tanner has long been interested in moving into administration and has talked with Hyman about switching over several times.
One local sports radio host called it “Ray-mania” in Columbia because of the backing to make Tanner the AD. The coach has said he’d listen if asked.
University President Harris Pastides appointed a five-member panel including women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley to consider an interim AD. Pastides has been overseas the past week and is expected back today. The president said before the trip he wasn’t sure if he’d appoint an interim leader or simply name a new one outright.
Hyman said it’s not his place to speculate on who’d be best for the job. He hasn’t been asked yet by Pastides for input and isn’t sure if that request will come.
Hyman was asked by TCU leaders on possible successors and suggested two names, including that of Danny Morrison who led Horned Frog athletics for four years before becoming president of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers in 2009.
Should Tanner take over at South Carolina, Hyman cautioned that the black-and-white mind-set most successful coaches have generally doesn’t work as AD.
“You deal with so many stakeholders,” he said. “That’s a lot different. So you have to operate in the gray, a lot more than in the coaching world.”
Whoever South Carolina selects likely will benefit, Hyman said, from not being Eric Hyman. He was not popular with fans for introducing a seat-licensing program to purchase football tickets, for revamping football parking and for the basketball team’s demise under his hire of Darrin Horn.
Horn was let go this March and replaced by Frank Martin.
“You want to be the guy who follows the one who put in the YES program,” Hyman said, referring to the Yearly Equity Seating revenue plan. “You can bet he won’t be bludgeoned.”
Hyman, 61, was grateful for his time at South Carolina, but felt things were right for a move despite what he sees as the athletic program’s continued rise.
“That’s what makes this so hard to go,” he said.