Carr Sports Associates will play big role in UMass' athletic future

Last modified: Friday, January 03, 2014
AMHERST — Florida-based Carr Sports Associates will have a considerable impact on the University of Massachusetts’ athletic future.

In July, UMass hired the firm, which provides a variety of services to Division I athletic departments, to evaluate the school’s standing in regards to conference alignment. After dismissing head football coach Charley Molnar on Thursday, UMass athletic director John McCutcheon said the school will also be employing Carr Associates as a search firm to aid in hiring his replacement.

Carr Associates, which is run by former Houston athletic director and NCAA Division I Management Council member Bill Carr, is receiving $60,000 for the conference alignment review, $6,000 for a Title IX review and approximately $30,000 for consulting on the search. UMass will also pay for travel expenses.

According to the Carr website , former clients include Duke, Texas, LSU, North Carolina, Florida, three Mid-American Conference schools and several conferences, including the Atlantic 10.

McCutcheon said that while Carr may suggest candidates to replace Molnar, its most important function will be vetting them.

“Candidates will emerge from a number of different places. Either they’ll reach out to me or through Carr or there will be people that (Carr Associates) know of that they’ll bring to the conversation,” he said. “Their primary role is to help us manage through the evaluation of that total pool and help us with background checks and things like that. They have resources that we, working in-house, wouldn’t have. That’s one of the advantages of having them involved.”

Carr’s other UMass evaluations are expected to extend into January. UMass has long been considered a potential candidate for the American Athletic Conference, which was formed this year with former Big East and Conference USA schools. Any alignment evaluation at UMass would certainly involve looking at the AAC, although McCutcheon declined to mention specific conferences.

“We’re evaluating all of our options with our current alignment and any and all possible alternate alignments. It’s a due diligence kind of thing. Not that there’s anything pending,” he said. “We want to make sure we have all the facts, all the alternatives evaluated to make the best informed decision when and if something arises. It’s a comprehensive top-to-bottom athletic department evaluation.”

McCutcheon declined to mention if UMass received or made any inquiries regarding conference change.

“I don’t want to get into that whole thing of whether we’ve been approached of if we’ve approached others,” McCutcheon said. “In this climate, everyone is exploring their current position and their potential position.”

DOYLE REACTS — UMass sophomore quarterback A.J. Doyle said he was surprised at the timing, but not the move to remove Molnar. Many players were interviewed by a university-hired law firm looking into Molnar after a video emerged in September of the players competing in combative drills led by the coaches during winter conditioning in 2012.

“You don’t expect to wake up the day after Christmas and find out that your coach has been fired. A lot of people understand it’s a business. Obviously the athletic department feels that there needs to be a change and we understand that,” Doyle said. “Obviously a lot of people thought that there was at least a possibility that there could be some changes in the coaching staff especially with the investigation.”

Doyle hoped change might ignite the team.

“Maybe a new coach will be the spark that we need. But at the end of the day it comes down to us as players. We have to make the plays on Saturday. Coaches can only do so much,” he said. “I’m excited about the unknown. I’m working by myself right now and I’m excited to get back to work with my teammates.”

WEGZYN OPEN TO RETURNING — Former UMass quarterback Mike Wegzyn said Molnar’s dismissal opened the door for him returning to the Minutemen next year.

Wegzyn, who announced his intention to transfer shortly after the season, said Thursday that he’d like to see who the new coach is before making a final decision.

“That’s definitely going to be another option now. I’ll take that into consideration,” Wegzyn said. “The hardest thing for me was walking away from the guys on the team. I had such a good relationship with them, everyone at the school, all the administration and the fans. I love the school. I’m proud to be a Minuteman. It made it really hard to make the decision to move on.”

Wegzyn, who was the starter to open the season before being benched, said he was glad to hear the news of Molnar’s firing.

“I think it’s going to be good moving forward for the program,” he said. “I’m excited for the whole school that they’re taking things seriously and moving forward with the next best step.”

McCUTCHEON CONTRACT EXTENDED — UMass made no announcement, but McCutcheon’s contract, which was due to expire in February, was extended in May. The contract, which pays McCutcheon $207,441.78 plus annual bonuses, will now run until June 30, 2016.

McCutcheon said there was no specific reason for not announcing it.

“It was something the chancellor and I talked about and agreed to back in May. It worked its way through and it was never at a point where I felt we needed to make an announcement about it,” said McCutcheon, who has been in the position since Feb. 2004.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage