T. Carey Wicker’s entrance to Sugar Bowl membership may have been largely because his father was president at the time. But his elevation to the organization’s presidency nearly 30 years later was a product of his own hard work.
“I never really thought about being president, but I’ve always tried to serve in as many capacities and committees as possible,” said Wicker, a New Orleans attorney whose father, Tom, was president in 1985-86, a year before the younger Wicker became a member. “I think it’s given me an appreciation (of) our mission, which is to promote amateur athletics and be an economic engine for community.”
Sugar Bowl Chief Executive Officer Paul Hoolahan said Wicker’s varied experience will serve the organization well, especially during the first year that the football game will match the top non-College Football Playoff teams from the Southeastern Conference and Big 12 as part of a 12-year agreement that includes four CFP semifinals.
It also comes at a time when the bowl is considering its options after failing to land a future CFP championship game last year.
“We have a lot of opportunities in front of us, and we have to decide what our future course is going to be,” Hoolahan said. “That means making some informed decisions about what’s best suited for our particular mission. And among other things, Carey has really good insight into the situation, and he’s a very quick study. Plus he has the good leadership and people skills that will make him very effective in this position.”
Wicker said he is enthusiastic about the partnership with the SEC and Big 12. He held off on deciding to pursue a future title game, probably in 2020, because of the financial obligation put on the host city.
“We couldn’t have two better partners going forward, especially with the college football landscape shifting as it is,” he said. “As far as future championship games, we have everything seriously under review. We will take a measured, deliberate approach about what we do.”
Cities have until May to respond to the request for proposals from the CFP for future title games. A decision on the 2018, 2019 and 2020 games is expected in September.
At the same time, Wicker said the Sugar Bowl is just as committed to the nearly 50 other events it sponsors, including all of the state high school championships.
Wicker succeeds Dennis Waldron as president.
The other new officers are president-elect Chuck Lapeyre, vice president Stanley Cohn, secretary Rod West and treasurer Monique Morial. Former president Jay Batt was elected chairman of the executive committee.
Wicker’s official elevation to become the Sugar Bowl’s 58th president took place earlier this month. He said it was a particularly meaningful ceremony because his father, now 91, could be there.
“It was a very emotional time for both of us,” he said. “My father has always had a deep and abiding affection for the Sugar Bowl, and I think he’s thrilled that I am now the president.”