ULM is announcing the resignation of its Athletic Director…..again.
If this feels like a broken record, that’s because it is.
Only a year ago, the Warhawks were in the midst of a PR crisis when Brian Wickstrom decided not to renew his contract. The story behind that move goes back to about a year before Wickstrom’s departure, when president Nick Bruno hired a replacement for Wickstrom without actually firing him:
Millsaps College athletic director Josh Brooks, a former director of football operations at ULM, was hired following the season to replace Wickstrom after his contract expired in July 2016. Wickstrom was instead given a one-year extension and Brooks departed for the University of Georgia in November.
But then, as we all know, Bruno decided not to get rid of Wickstrom. Bruno kept him around for another year – forcing him to work alongside his replacement. Awkward.
After the snub, Josh Brooks, effectively the Athletic Director in-waiting, left for a better gig at a more prestigious institution. And Wickstrom, none-to-pleased with Bruno’s antics to replace him, ratcheted up his job search.
Wickstrom was arguably one of the best Athletic Directors the Warhawks have ever had. He took over for Bobby Staub who left ULM in early 2013. Wickstrom was instrumental in orchestrating desperately needed capital campaigns and was even rated one of the Top 10 fundraisers among Athletic Directors by CollegeAD. For a school like ULM with an abysmal athletics budget – Wickstrom was a godsend.
That being said, he wasn’t without his faults. Wickstrom basically spent his entire time in Monroe actively job hunting elsewhere. Over the years, he was publicly named as a candidate at Tulane, Akron, and Sacramento State. It wasn’t the kind of behavior that endeared a lot of fans. And his employer wasn’t too thrilled either.
Wickstrom declined to renew his contract last summer. Perhaps it was a mix of having the lowest budget in the FBS, Nick Bruno’s lack of support, or higher career aspirations – in the summer of 2017, Wickstrom was out.
Following the departure of Wickstrom, Bruno brought in Nick Floyd – a college athletics veteran from East Carolina. Floyd had spent the past 30+ years working in athletics administration positions at Southern Mississippi, East Carolina, and at the conference level as Associate Commissioner of Conference USA.
ULM hired Nick Floyd 13 months ago….and just this week the university has announced that Floyd will be resigning to deal with a personal health issue.
Once again, the Warhawks are searching for a new Athletic Director.
The Warhawk’s Situation
It’s hard to say whether the Warhawks can’t catch a break or if Nick Bruno is just really terrible at managing the athletics side of university affairs. Maybe it’s a bit of both.
Floyd’s health issue is obviously not something Nick Bruno can do anything about. It sucks – and I wish Floyd nothing but the best as he tries to get healthy. But it’s important to remember that ULM wouldn’t be in this predicament for the third time in two years if it had properly managed its Athletic Director situation in the past.
They didn’t have to actively push out the best AD they’ve ever had just because his long-term career goals didn’t include him staying in Monroe forever.
And if they wanted to hire an Athletic Director in-waiting, they should have found one that, you know, actually was open to sticking around through the “in-waiting” part.
Going forward, the ULM job remains one of the tougher athletic director jobs in the country. Their ’16-’17 athletics budget was only around $15 million – putting it below the rest of the FBS. The Warhawks are essentially asking someone to come in and compete with $10 – $15 million less than the rest of its conference peers.
ULM will remain a tough job for years to come – but hopefully their next Athletic Director can bring some stability.
All of us here at Forgotten5 wish Nick Floyd the best as he tends to his health.