North Texas acting athletic director Hank Dickenson spoke with representatives from Eastman & Beaudine Inc., the search firm helping the school search for a replacement for Rick Villarreal, on Monday.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told the Denton Record-Chronicle on Tuesday that the meeting took place. Those sources and others provided some perspective on where UNT’s search stands and how it might proceed.
Dickenson, a longtime UNT athletic department official, has guided the school’s athletic program since June 6. Former UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal officially stepped down on Monday. Villarreal’s departure was announced on May 23.
UNT officials met with the school’s lettermen on Tuesday night. A similar meeting with boosters is scheduled for next week
Those meetings are a part of the school’s efforts to evaluate the program. UNT hired Trip Kuehne and Michael Sicuro as consultants to help with that process.
Kuehne is a well-known amateur golfer and the son of UNT booster Ernie Kuehne. He is the founder and senior managing partner of the Westlake-based investment firm Double Eagle Capital Management, LP.
Sicuro works for Venture Capital & Private Equity. He has more than 30 years of experience with public and private companies with revenue of up to $4 billion in annually.
The evaluation process of UNT’s program has been underway for the last several days, a source with knowledge of the process said.
“They are trying to evaluate the staff,” a source who did not want to be identified said. “That has been going on for a couple of weeks.”
Multiple prominent UNT boosters said Tuesday that school officials have managed to keep the details of how the search is progressing quiet, even among the most connected donors.
Other than Dickenson, few names have come up in connection with UNT’s opening for its first athletic director since the spring of 2001.
One prominent UNT booster said he brought up Arthur Johnson, the executive senior associate athletics director at Texas, as a potential candidate. The booster did not have any knowledge of whether or not Johnson is on UNT’s list of potential candidates.
UNT is looking for a leader who can take advantage of the facilities Villarreal put in place during his tenure and spark its high-profile programs. UNT opened Apogee Stadium, the school’s $78 million football venue, in 2011 and also built several other key facilities, including the Mean Green Athletic Center.
UNT finished 9-4 and beat UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at the end of the 2013 season.
That is the lone winning season UNT has produced in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball — its three programs with the highest profile — in the last four years.
Dave Anderson, a longtime UNT booster, said he didn’t know what direction the school’s search would take, but expressed confidence in the future of the program.
“Change in any organization can be good,” Anderson said. “I hope they make a good decision.”