Todd Stansbury Takes Off

Just as the Oregon State campus and community was getting settled in after the first day of fall term, Athletic Director Todd Stansbury shook things up by announcing his resignation.

Stansbury’s decision came as a sizable surprise, coming only a little more than a year after he took the job. Stansbury, pictured above with Oregon State University President Ed Ray at his introduction as Athletic Director, replaced Bob Decarolis, returning to Corvallis where he had previously worked for 9 years in the Athletic Department.

Stansbury’s abrupt and early departure isn’t a product of any problems at Oregon State though; Stansbury’s reason for leaving is to take the newly opened Athletic Director position at Georgia Tech, which is Stansbury’s alma mater. Stansbury also played football for the Yellow Jackets.

Stansbury even said the entire process unfolded over just 3 days this week.

When someone leaves a position this early, there are usually only a couple of reasons. One is for what is only a handful of premier jobs in premier locations. The other is typically to return home, to one’s alma mater or home area. Neither should raise red flags, though it can produce concerning disruption in operations.

The move nevertheless took President Ray by surprise, along with most everyone else. Ray announced he will appoint an interim Athletic Director “as soon as possible” (which, rather than having a name of a department member ready to announce, is what tells us this really was unexpected), and begin a national search for a new Athletic Director.

Ray said in a release he will engage an advisory group of university, alumni and leaders in intercollegiate sports to begin an immediate national search for a new athletic director. The selection process will be aided by a national search firm focused in intercollegiate athletics. Ray said he plans to name an interim athletic director as soon as possible by following university procedures.

The search committee will be led by Joey Spatafora, an OSU distinguished professor and the university’s faculty athletic representative to the PAC-12 conference.

The outcome of the search will be the important thing for Oregon State, which has a long (and in some cases, high priced) list of projects still to take on to continue moving the Beavers forward.

Stansbury’s brief tenure’s most notable accomplishments were the signing of the basketball coaches to contract extensions, but Wayne Tinkle had just guided the Beavers to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a generation, and Scott Rueck had just completed the best season in the history of the women’s program, getting the Beavers to the NCAA Final 4 for the first time ever. Anyone would have made similar extensions.

The other major development during Stansbury’s year+ is the near completion of the renovation of the Valley Football Center, which won’t finish until long after he’s settled in in Atlanta, but is “done” as far as the in-stadium aspect. That project was already rolling along well before DeCarolis gave way to Stansbury.

Some of the other notable developments were less positive. They included the less than inspiring upcoming men’s basketball non-conference schedule, but again, a lot of that is a product of fulfilling commitments from the dubious scheduling during the Craig Robinson era.

On a brighter basketball note, Stansbury was a central player in furthering the “Dam Classic”, and also the spring football practice at Hillsboro Stadium, as part of the effort to bring Oregon State back into the Portland market.

The loss of the future home football game with Nevada, with no rescheduling at a later date, and the limited progress on future football schedules, was also disappointing, but the short time frame during which Stansbury was in place, and some of the problems he inherited, make it hard to fully and fairly evaluate the issue. It will, however, need to be an area of priority emphasis for Stansbury’s successor, due to the loss of time.

The move might put to rest speculation about a possible series with Stansbury’s former employer, Central Florida, in light of football coach Gary Andersen’s unfortunate comments about scheduling and Boise State earlier in the week. But it also serves to further suggest that Stansbury’s move was truly a surprise.

It will be interesting to see if President Ray again looks to someone with Oregon State ties, whether currently on staff or not, or decides to bring in someone with no history with the university, and maybe even the Pac-12 Conference or the region. There are pros and cons to both approaches.

Mark Masseri, current Deputy Athletics Director for Capital Projects & Internal Operations, who many expected to be the heir apparent to DeCarolis before Stansbury was hired, will likely again be a leading candidate.

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