Well, if you haven't heard by now, Bill Moos is resigning as athletic director, effective in March. Moos says that to take the next step would require more time than Moos wants to spend. Its the classic "spend more time with the family" line. Best of luck to Bill with that.
The question is where does that leave the athletic program. John Canzano says that Moos' departure is a troubling sign. Canzano's concern is that Moos' resignation, coming off Dave Heeke and Jim Bartko's leaving the program for better gigs elsewhere is a sign that Phil Knight is unhappy with the status quo at Oregon. It is true that he had a run in with the University in regards to joining the Worker's Right's Consortum, and that Bartko and Moos had to woo him back on board with the Autzen expansion afterward. It is widely rumored that Knight's demands regarding having the track program built on distance running led to Martin Smith's resignation as track coach. It is much speculated that the major holdup in the construction of the new basketball arena is that Knight's unhappiness with Moos is holding up the funding. Basically, Canzano is concerned that a coup is going on at the Casanova Center.
Now, Canzano is a sensationalist. I'm not sure how much Phil Knight had to do with Bartko or Heeke leaving the programs, as they both got much better gigs elsewhere. But Moos and Knight have not always seen eye to eye. And Moos' inability to deliver on the basketball is largely due to his inability to secure Knight's funding. There definitely is some creedence that Knight is the "owner" of the Ducks. So is this move Knight's coup? We'll reserve judgment on that until we find out who will replace him.
Two frequently mentioned candidates to replace him are Mike Belotti and Vin Lananna. I don't really care for either of those choices. I know that coach/athletic directors were in vogue in the 1980s, but both coaching and athletic directing are more than full time jobs, and I don't see either man doing well at both. Maybe when they retire from coaching, but not now. Rich Brooks is another name floating around, and one that would make more sense. Usually, it takes a while for a good idea on who the candidates will be to pop up.
What does this mean for the program? Expect Phil to have input on who the new guy will be. The first responsibility of the new guy will be to butter up to Phil and get the basketball arena built. We know that Mike Bellotti is virtually untouchable, but I wouldn't buy stock in Ernie Kent's job security right now. He was already on the hot seat, now his main supporter is gone. Best make the NCAAs, coach.
The real concern is Knight's influence, and the effect that it will have on the University. Knight puts a lot of money into the program, and for that contribution his voice rightfully deserves to be heard. He will have input in this decision. But it is my hope that the new athletic adminstration realizes that it is a University first. What we don't want is breaking our athletic department's self-sufficiency in the name of more expansion. Moos has done a lot of good for this university. However, these event signal that there will be a radical change in direction at the Casanova Center. Time will tell whether it will be positive or negative.