Hocutt leaves Miami for Texas Tech, creates uncertainty

Kirby Hocutt

It’s not you, it’s me.

This, in short, is what Kirby Hocutt told the University of Miami on Friday. He abandoned his position here as athletic director in favor of the same title at Texas Tech. A surprised administration and fan base are left to wonder about his motives, our future and what the hell just happened. There had been no publicized courtship between Hocutt and the Big 12 school, not a single indication that his heart was anywhere other than South Florida. But within days of the initial reports, barely over three years after he was introduced as Paul Dee’s replacement, Miami found itself without an athletic director.

Hocutt is the only person who knows his true reasons for leaving, but that doesn’t mean outsiders haven’t started speculating. Suggestions of possible tension between Hocutt and Donna Shalala or even major athletic booster Paul DiMare have already arisen, but the likelihood of either being factual is shaky. Why would Shalala have problems with the person she trusted enough to fire a football coach, one who had basically performed to her standards? And why would DiMare, who provides boatloads of cash to the program, have beef with the man who just made the Al Golden hire he fully supported?

While it does nothing to appease our love for drama, the easiest and cleanest reason for why Hocutt left, that he’s a Texas guy who wanted a Texas gig, probably has the most clout. If that is indeed the case, comparing Lubbock, Texas to Miami is not worth the energy I’m exerting typing this and certainly not the time you’re taking to read this. Moving on.

As we begin to pry our narcissistic eyes away from the jet headed to West Texas and toward what this means for our teams, our future has only become more unstable. Al Golden will now work for someone who likely will have had no role in hiring him, which means he may have no reason to stick around if another job (see: Penn State) opens up.

Frank Haith, the coach of an allegedly talented men’s basketball team, just found his last pillar of support crumble beneath him. Without Hocutt, Haith is left with alumni who don’t have his back and an apathetic fan base that has grown tired of watching under-performing teams play in half-full arenas. So as the new athletic director scans the resume of his basketball coach, one surprising run in the NIT and a myriad of losses (a few of them close!) to Duke won’t scream “cornerstone for success.”

So just like the Nintendo character that bears his name, Kirby swallowed UM whole, took on its characteristics of calculated yet aggressive action, only to spit us out once the next opportunity presented itself. Hocutt is no more of a carpetbagger than any other professional administrator, coach or player, but that doesn’t change the impact of his decision.

Miami, while trying to regain its identity in football and struggling to find any glory in men’s basketball, must now find somebody new to lead the charge. It’s not impossible, but without Kirby, it just got a lot tougher.

Austen Gregerson may be contacted at agregerson@themiamihurricane.com