Having served as athletic director since 1993, Paul Dee will no longer find himself in this role at the university. When everyone comes back to school next year, it will be Kirby Hocutt, not Dee, who will lead the athletic department. Dee has been involved with the university since 1981.
Dee will continue at UM as a professor. In his final moments as the AD, The Miami Hurricane caught up with Dee to reminisce about his experiences at the university.
The Miami Hurricane: What has your time, your experience at the University of Miami, as Athletic Director, been like?
Paul Dee: It’s been a wonderful 15 years. I started here, in this capacity, 15 years ago, in 1993. It’s been a very rewarding one. We’ve had our ups. We’ve had our downs. We’ve had more ups than downs. First of all, we’ve had a lot of great people, a lot of great coaches have been through here [that] I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Tremendous student athletes. That’s probably what makes getting up everyday worthwhile, getting to work with the young people coming through the university.
TMH: What would you say are some of the difficulties you faced, and how did you overcome them?
Dee: There were two or three. The one was the Pell Grant. We discovered there was a problem with people getting extra Pell Grant money, to which they weren’t entitled, and you started pulling on the string and it kept getting longer and longer and longer. It was like the guy that pulls the scarves out of his vest, the magician, you pull one out and another one’s there.
And then we had probably the two hardest things I ever was involved in, where people lost their lives. Those are difficult times because you are dealing with people. You are dealing with families. You’re dealing with teammates and all the people that are affected.
TMH: Of your time here, and of the memories you have been able to collect, what would you say is your greatest or your fondest memory?
Dee: This interview probably. Let’s see. I don’t know that there’s one thing. I think the best memory that I have is that I really feel like we’ve had some really great people pass our way, and the memory I have is all the people that I’ve gotten the chance to know, because I happen to be here.
One of my favorite memories – you probably all would not appreciate this – the first night of basketball in the Big East, they had ugly sweater night, in honor of Lou Carnesecca. He was a coach at St. Johns. And he would wear these really – I mean he had to go out of his way to find this stuff. So we had ugly sweater night. So they had to find somebody, and it just started teaching me about the humor about the people around here. And, the winner was a guy who had on a Florida T-shirt or a Florida sweatshirt. That was the ugly sweater. I thought that was pretty funny. Even though I went to Florida.
Sebastian and I have had to have a few conversations. Sebastian is hilarious, sometimes, and he tried to be hilarious other times. And, to many people he is, but sometimes Sebastian steps over the line. I remember the first time I had any incidents with Sebastian. He got arrested at Florida State. They had sent us a letter that they didn’t want him on the field. I don’t know if you know their opening there, but the horse comes out onto the field, Osceola. The chief is on the horse, and he plants the spear at midfield. And, it’s on fire. Well, I’m under the stadium, before the game, and here comes Sebastian. He’s got a complete fireman’s outfit on and a big fire extinguisher. Sebastian’s going right on up the field and puts out the flame on the spear. And, I’m like “here we go.” He did worse than that, but that was sort of my introduction to the Sebastian sense of humor, which I thought was great, for the most part. But, it’s one thing to have a great sense of humor, and it’s another to be his boss and have to be responsible for his sense of humor.
TMH: What do you plan on doing next year, Thursday night, first game of the year?
Dee: Interesting question. I have thought about it a lot. I will be a member of the faculty of the university, alum of the university, twice. Before I became the athletic director, I always had season tickets. And, I suppose I’ll be a fan, and I’ll be there like everybody else – finding my seat, going to the ballgame and enjoying one.
Pravin Patel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
News from the Dee interview
Miami basketball is still negotiating with Kansas for a home-and-home series beginning next year. Miami will not play the Jayhawks if they insist on playing at the AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami, which they did earlier this year.
Renovations to the baseball stadium are expected to be finished by the start of next season, completing Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park.
Miami has received the necessairly permits to open up previously-prohibited seating above the student section in the BankUnited Center.
The basketball practice facility being constructed next to the BUC has been delayed. Originally scheduled to open in August, the building is now expected to open in November due to sewer permitting problems.