When LSU’s administration got wind of the fact that Tennessee was courting athletic director Joe Alleva, the reaction was a swift, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”
After getting a lot of love, affection and it appears, more money from Chancellor Michael Martin and the LSU Board of Supervisors, Joe said no to Tennessee and decided Tuesday he will stay at LSU.
Good for Alleva. More money and more security is always sweet if you can get it. In April, he received a three-year contract extension through June 2016. Now he’s got the other half of the package, to borrow a euphemism from Martin during Tuesday’s flurry of rumors and reports concerning Alleva’s future.
Is Alleva staying good for LSU?
On the face of it, yes.
LSU would certainly lose face if it lost its A.D. to a peer program in its own conference. Especially when Alleva is about to begin a five-year tenure on the men’s basketball selection committee, the most visible and arguably most prestigious committee the NCAA has.
Alleva’s departure could have raised questions in the minds of future coaches, even recruits, as to where the LSU athletic program is headed: “What does he see coming that I don’t know about?”
There are likely a lot of LSU fans out there who ask what has Alleva done for the athletic program aside from hire Trent Johnson, replace Van Chancellor with Nikki Caldwell and bring in Beth Torina to coach softball when Pat Murphy got cold feet. He’s also set as a priority to beautify Tiger Stadium and under his watch LSU built practice facilities for its basketball programs.
Basically, that’s what athletic directors do: hire and fire coaches and find the money to build things. When not doing that, Alleva has kept a low profile in his three years at LSU compared to his predecessors, Joe Dean and Skip Bertman.
Dean and Bertman were both well-known LSU figures before they sat behind the A.D.’s desk. If Alleva was known in Louisiana, it was for being embroiled in the lacrosse scandal while athletic director at Duke.
When you think about it, what A.D. was popular? Certainly Dean’s “Mr. String Music” image got frayed when he presided over six straight losing seasons in football. And Bertman’s five national championship trophies didn’t cut much ice with fans put out by seat licenses (the Tradition Fund).
Could LSU athletics be doing better? Certainly. This spring marked the first time in nearly 30 years that men’s and women’s basketball and baseball missed their respective NCAA tournaments in the same year, and football is on probation. Ultimately, it’s Alleva’s job to hire or retain successful coaches who build winning programs and do it the right way.
But just because he has a job in which he can please virtually no one is no reason to assume Alleva is not good for LSU. If he was doing such a lousy job, you’d have to believe Martin and the LSU board would have let Joe go without a fight.
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