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Hiring Tom McElroy as an associate athletic director, a potentially interesting move for UMass



Last modified: Wednesday, September 30, 2015
When UMass officially announces Tom McElroy’s hiring next week, most casual fans will barely notice. Other than active boosters, most fans’ encounters with upper athletic department staffers is minimal.

Several UMass sources confirmed that he’ll be on board by the beginning of next month as the associate athletic director for external affairs. He's essentially replacing Tim Kenney, who left to become the A.D. at St. Bonaventure.

But McElroy is interesting for a couple reasons and the biggest is:

1. He used to be an associate commissioner of the Big East. From 1981-2001 he rose to senior associate commissioner. He was through much of that league’s evolution.

Connect the dots:

* UMass hasn’t hid the fact that it would really, really REALLY, REALLY like to end up in the American Athletic Conference, which would be an enormous move for football and a significant one for everything else.

* The AAC employs quite a few employees who were with the Big East before the Big East and AAC split. McElroy and Big East commissioner Mike Aresco are friendly, according lots of people. I’m not suggesting that would be enough to get UMass into the AAC. But if there are negotiations to be had, McElroy can help the process.

2. McElroy worked with former UConn athletic director Lew Perkins on the study that led to UMass upgrading to FBS football. He comes in knowing something about the program, its resources and the challenges it faces.

3. McElroy pursued the UMass A.D. job early in the process this spring. Assuming it was new A.D. Ryan Bamford’s decision to hire him, it says something about Bamford’s confidence that he was willing to bring on someone, who had previously coveted his job. It also gives Bamford, an experienced hand on his staff, someone who counteracts Bamford’s youth to some degree.

4. McElroy was the Rhode Island athletic director for two years before Thorr Bjorn was hired. His dismissal came with three years left on his initial contract. Neither he nor Rhode Island administrators discussed it publicly.At the time of his dimissal, the Providence Journal cited sources claiming there were clashes between McElroy and URI president Robert Carouthers.

Since leaving URI he’s been a senior vice president at the Leffler Agency, a sports advertising agency.

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