Humboldt State president Lisa Rossbacher announced this week that she will be forming a search committee before the end of the month to find a full-time Athletic Director, and that the position will be filled before she steps down at the end of the school year.
Exactly what that means, however, remains to be seen.
Current interim AD Duncan Robins has been in the position for a year and a half now and remains an extremely unpopular choice within the local sports community. But he is close with Rossbacher, who ultimately will have the say over the hire, regardless of any search committee.
If she does hire him, it would be one final slap in the face to a community that feels she has persistently let them down and failed miserably in her responsibilities.
Of course, after she’s gone, whoever takes over will have the final say on whether to keep or replace any of her hires, although there’s no guarantee the head of the athletics department will be a priority for a new president who will inherit a campus with widespread problems and concerns.
It also depends on whether the new president understands the importance of Humboldt State athletics to the local community, or how beneficial its presence is to the entire school.
Local sports mean more to the North Coast than other communities, in large part because of the relative isolation here, and that’s something that was more than evident during the whole North Coast Section mess this past fall.
It’s also something Rossbacher and Robins have continually failed to grasp, and any apathy on the new president’s part in regard to athletics could continue to send the department into chaos.
That’s the danger of a potential full-time hire by Rossbacher.
Which brings us on to next month’s public forum, and never has the future of Humboldt State sports depended so much on the present.
CSU Chancellor Timothy White and the four trustee members on the search committee responsible for the process of hiring of a new president will be in town on Feb. 4 for a public forum, where community members and boosters can air their grievances (in person or online) and let them know what’s important to them in a new president.
It’s an important opportunity for local boosters and fans to let the decision makers know how important sports and football is to this community, and just how much they feel the current administration has failed them.
They need to let these people know, because this is about all our futures, and not just the future of athletics at HSU.
Getting rid of the football team is about far more than just eliminating the cost of one sport at the school.
It’s about adding to an already declining enrollment. It’s about adding to a declining diversity on a campus that needs diversity more than ever. It’s about the local economy. And it’s about alienating a community that is the lifeblood of the school.
Callous or clueless?
That alienation will be evident at this year’s sports dinner/auction fundraiser, and it’s something that will have a negative effect on all the teams at the school.
Scholarships will be lost.
Interest in HSU sports is down.
You’re already seeing it in the stands of Lumberjack Arena, where the men’s basketball team is 8-0 but few people seem to care any more.
On top of that, this year’s guest speaker at April’s annual fundraiser will be a football player.
Are you serious?
Are the decision makers that callous, or that clueless? Or are they both?
Right now, the school’s athletic department is on a path to implosion, and if local fans want to do something about it, it’s time to let their voices be heard.
Mark the date on your calendar — Feb. 4.
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.