Athletic director John McCutcheon could be on his way out at UMass

Last modified: Tuesday, August 04, 2015

AMHERST — With the tasks of finding a new conference for the football program, and maybe all sports, the UMass athletic department is in the midst of a time period that will likely affect it for years and maybe even decades to come.

The university might soon be navigating those waters with a different leader.

Athletic director John McCutcheon confirmed Saturday that he is a finalist the vacant athletic director’s job at California-Santa Barbara. McCutcheon interviewed for the position in mid-November.

“I have interviewed for the position, but there’s not much more I can say as the process is still ongoing,” said McCutcheon, 61. “It’s something (he and his wife) thought we needed to explore. It’s nothing against UMass. We’ll see where this may or may not go. That’s all I can say right now.”

According to the Santa Barbara News-Press, other than UCSB associate athletic director Andy Fee, the school is only considering finalists that are already athletic directors as McCutcheon is competing against Indiana State’s Ron Prettyman, Idaho’s Rob Spear, Santa Clara’s Dan Coonan and Saint Mary’s Mark Orr. There is no timetable for a hire.

Before UMass, McCutcheon was the athletic director at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, which is just under 100 miles north of Santa Barbara.

McCutcheon, who previously served as the associate athletic director for business at Boston College, was hired in 2004 to stabilize the athletic department. After Bob Marcum retired in 2002, UMass had three different men leading the department – interim directors Bill Strickland and Thorr Bjorn as well as Ian McCaw, who was hired for the full-time post in 2002, but left to lead Baylor after less than a year.

McCutcheon has a contract in place through 2016 that pays him $259,338 annually.

During his tenure, McCutcheon has hired two men’s basketball coaches, four football coaches and has overseen the building or upgrading of several facilities including the recently finished football performance center and press box, and the men’s basketball practice facility, which is expected to be completed in 2015.

However, the defining aspect of his tenure will be the upgrade of the football program from the Championship Subdivision to the Bowl Subdivision. McCutcheon wasn’t the driving force behind making the move, as he never publicly advocated for the switch before it happened, but his fingerprints are all over the process that has followed.

Whomever is leading the department in the near future will play an important role in finding a new conference for the football program when the Minutemen leave the MAC following the 2015 season. Conference affiliation will strongly affect UMass’ ability to control costs and find new revenue streams for the program going forward.

McCutcheon said the process hasn’t been a distraction to his work in Amherst.

“This hasn’t affected anything at UMass,” McCutcheon said.

Matt Vautour can be reached at Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at


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