Marshall AD talks to business leaders

Published 10:13 pm Saturday, November 21, 2009

SOUTH POINT — There was no bomb dropped as to the fate of Marshall University football coach Mark Snyder.

But new athletic director Mike Hamrick agreed that with a 5-5 season this is a critical year for the Ironton native coach. That comment was made during a question-answer period during the monthly luncheon of the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce Friday afternoon.

Hamrick, a Marshall graduate, was the guest speaker at the luncheon where he said he viewed the job of athletic director as comparable to running a business.

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“I get up every day and I have a $20 million business,” Hamrick told the audience. “I do the same thing you guys do. I’m just in the public eye.”

Hamrick left the post of AD at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas to come this past July back to Marshall and his home state of West Virginia. One of his biggest challenges, he said, was keeping a healthy balance between athletics and academics for students and alumni.

“America is the only country where education and athletics are together and they conflict,” he said. “In Europe athletics are separate from academics. Sometimes alumni don’t understand the athletic side of it. That is when I come in. That is the most challenging part of the job, meshing athletics and academics together.”

As a student athlete at Marshall, playing for the Thundering Herd, Hamrick saw firsthand the challenge of balancing classroom work with the rigors of weekly games and daily practices. But both can teach students valuable life lessons. Hamrick came to the team just a few years after the Marshall airplane crash that wiped out the football team.

“Those four years I played football taught me about perseverance, how to get me through tough times. I have seen some student athletes come through and get an education, get a degree and then they run successful businesses,” he said. “They are successes in life. We will value education at Marshall University, but we will do what needs to be done to win.”

Part of Hamrick’s job includes traveling around the country talking to alumni to find out what they want to see in the athletic program. Those conversations he translates into a business plan for the university’s athletic department.

“In my business I have to have the same vision as the supporters and the alums,” he said. “Then it will be a shared vision. Then I ask them to be a part of the plan.”

As to the fate of the beleaguered coach, Hamrick didn’t answer directly.

“I will make the decision on what I think is best for my business,” he said. “We will evaluate the football program and see what the future is.”