Today, UNO announced five finalists to be the next athletic director: Cliff Dochterman from Cal-Riverside, David Miller formerly of SMU, William Weider formerly of South Florida, Bruce Van De Velde formerly of Iowa State, and UNO hockey coach Mike Kemp. An intriguing group of candidates.
The big name on the list is Van De Velde, who was in charge of the Cyclones for 5 years. He brings not only Division 1 experience, but also experience in a BCS conference.
Miller has a local connection, as he hails from Manning, IA and has a brother-in-law who played football for UNO. Dochterman has experience with several division II schools who have transitioned to division 1.
Kemp is the intriguing "internal" candidate. The timing of the announcement could be better, what with the Mavs on the road at Michigan State for the 2nd round of the CCHA playoffs. They need to win 2 out of 3 games this weekend without Hobey Baker candidate Scott Parse, who left Saturday night's game against Bowling Green in the 1st period with an injury. They probably don't need the "Kemp for AD" distraction this weekend.
Many UNO fans are torn with respect to (and for) Kemp as coach. AJ thinks he must go; Sam wants him to stay. So why consider him for athletic director? Two reasons come to mind: (a) he knows the program, it's wants and needs, and the community and (b) he's very personable and able to sell the program to players and fans. Is he the best business mind? Don't know, but I don't know about the other candidates either. But in this environment where UNO's athletic department has burned bridges with many supporters, Mike Kemp might just be the right guy to come in. Of course, one question is how Kemp is viewed by the other athletic programs. Would they view Kemp as "one of them" --- or the hockey guy firming up his power over the rest of the athletic department?
Now, could Kemp wear both hats? Guys like Barry Alvarez have done it for a period of time. But Kemp told 1620 the Zone today that with the needs at UNO that it would be difficult to wear both hats. In some respects, this might be a win-win situation for UNO by allowing Kemp the opportunity to rebuild UNO athletics and name his successor at the very least. It could be a way to start the healing after UNO's summer of discontent.