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Subject: Duquesne to Build New Recreation Facility & More. Why not Fordham?

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Date Posted: 11:07:26 05/15/05 Sun

New AD to be part of major changes
Duquesne president's role in athletics grows
Saturday, May 14, 2005

By Phil Axelrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The new athletic director at Duquesne University will report directly to president Charles Dougherty in a significant change in the chain of command for the school's athletic department.

Brian Colleary, who resigned earlier this week after 16 years as athletic director, answered to Rev. Sean Hogan, vice president of student life.

"I don't want to manage the athletic department," Dougherty said yesterday. "I want someone I can trust to run athletics. We want to have a new athletic director as soon as possible, but the No. 1 job is to get the right person. We want to get a basketball person of some sort.

"I think it will be a buyer's market."

The job should become more attractive with Dougherty's announcement that the university's board of directors has approved $20 million to upgrade athletic facilities -- $2 million for renovations of Palumbo Center and $18 million for a multipurpose recreational facility on Forbes Avenue.

Dougherty said the recreational facility is projected to be completed and available for the 2006-07 academic year, and the renovations to Palumbo Center should be completed by this fall.

Rev. Hogan will chair the committee that will make a national search and recommend candidates to Dougherty, who will hire the new athletic director. Paul Hightower, the current assistant director of athletics, will serve as interim athletic director throughout the search.

Dougherty said he decided not to renew Colleary's contract, but he wouldn't comment when asked if Colleary received a buyout.

Colleary, who was unavailable for comment, is a finalist for the athletic director's job at Georgia State University and a candidate at the University of Buffalo. He was a finalist at Canisius, which hired Bill Maher.

"With the new facilities and new leadership, this is the dawning of a new era of Duquesne athletics," Dougherty said. "We felt we needed somebody to come in fresh to help renew Duquesne's commitment to winning. We need to get men's basketball back in shape to be competitive. Duquesne is synonymous with basketball."

The Dukes have had 11 consecutive losing seasons, the past four under Danny Nee. Two years ago, Dougherty extended Nee's contract through the 2008 season. Duquesne was 8-22 last season and 39-78 in Nee's four years.

"The first three years marked improvement every year. Last year there was reason to believe it would be a breakout year. It was a terrible year that was unacceptable to the administration, unacceptable to the fans and unacceptable to Nee," Dougherty said. "I'm looking for a much better year this year."

As for Nee's contract at a reported $300,000 annually, Dougherty said, "I don't think anybody has job security, no matter what."

Nee blasted the administration last year for not providing enough support for his program. "I swim in a sea of criticism. That's part of my life," Dougherty said. "He had a string of very tough losses and that was an emotional reaction. It's over and forgotten about."

Dougherty would like to lure back the fans who have forgotten about Duquesne basketball over the years. "One of the jobs of the new athletic director will be reaching out to our alums. We've got to rebuild the Dukes Court. It hasn't met in a year and doesn't have any energy."

Dougherty said the athletic budget and facilities put the Dukes in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

"We want to find a new athletic director who can bring us a new level of excellence in all our sports," he said of the 20 varsity teams. "It's difficult to have excellence across the board. If we have to drop a sport or two and put money in another sport, I'm open to that. I'm not coming out and saying we're going to make cutbacks. There's no question we're putting our emphasis on basketball."

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Look like Duquesne is getitng a jump on Fordham in several ways, starting with cleaning house in an inept athletic department. We must do this to have a strong athletic program. (NT)FC'8014:52:34 05/16/05 Mon

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