Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Keep Your Eye On Fred Mims, Who Could Become Iowa's Interim Athletic Director--Then, Who Knows, Maybe the Permanent Boss

Here's a name to remember:

Fred Mims.

Mims [right] is a loyal veteran of the University of Iowa athletic department, and could have a very interesting future at the school.

"Fred has been in the department for 30 years, and would make a capable interim athletic director," George Wine said.

Mims is Iowa's associate athletic director for student services and compliance. Wine says Mims would qualify as a capable person to lead Iowa's athletic department -- at least in the short term -- when Bob Bowlsby leaves after 15 years as athletic director this summer.

Bowlsby, a class act who has been an outstanding director for the Hawkeyes, will become the new athletic department leader at Stanford University.

"David Skorton is also leaving as Iowa's president, so a new athletic director is not likely to be named for at least a year when a new president is in place," said Wine, a retired Iowa sports information director who has authored two books on Hawkeye athletics.

If Mims lands the athletic director job on an interim basis, and does well -- and there's no reason to think he won't do well -- it certainly would be possible for him to get the job on a permanent basis.

Wine has worked with, and around, Bowlsby for a number of years. Wine probably knows what makes Bowlsby tick as well as anyone.

Like me, Wine says he was "shocked" that Bowlsby took the Stanford job.

"Stanford hiring Bowlsby was the best-kept secret since the Big Ten introduced Penn State as its newest member," Wine said.

"How this was pulled off in today's world of intense media scrutiny is truly amazing. No one in the state of Iowa or the San Francisco bay area had a clue."

Wine has much admiration for the job Bowlsby has done at Iowa.

"Bob gave Iowa a good 15 years and leaves a program that is in good shape financially and has excellent facilities," Wine said.

"I always thought his greatest strength was as a fund-raiser, and it's probably fitting that a multi-million dollar renovation of Kinnick Stadium is being completed as he walks out the door."

Bowlsby pulled off perhaps his biggest move when he surprised virtually everyone with the hiring of Kirk Ferentz as the Hawkeyes' football coach prior to the 1999 season.

There was strong sentiment among Iowa fans for Bowlsby to hire former Iowa player Bobby Stoops, but Stoops signed with Oklahoma instead.

When I was doing research for my book, "Tales from the Iowa Sidelines," Bowlsby told me that "the talk about Bob Stoops had been around even during the last couple of years Hayden [Fry] was our coach. That was always the package --'Hayden needs to retire and we need to hire Bob Stoops.'

"[But] Bob had been at a couple of places that were different than Iowa. I think he may have thought, and others may have thought, that this should be a turn-key deal. You go out and tap him on the shoulder and offer him 'X' number of dollars and that's the end of it.

"But it doesn't work that way. We had a number of quality candidates. I talked with Bob over the course of this process.I called him the first day after Hayden's retirement -- and he was the first guy I called. Through that process, we set up an interview time."

Stoops has been very successful at Oklahoma, but Ferentz has done well at Iowa, too. He has been a big winner and the Hawkeyes have become a consistent top-10 team nationally.

The jury is still out on Iowa basketball coach Steve Alford, who has not yet become the huge winner that Hawkeye fans want.

But, through the uneasiness, Alford's 2005-2006 team won 25 games and seized the Big Ten postseason tourament championship.

"Isn't it ironical that Tom Davis came from Stanford to Iowa nearly 20 years ago, and now Bowlsby is going in the other direction?" Wine asks.

Bowlsby didn't renew the contract of Davis, who became Iowa's winningest basketball coach, after the 1998-99 season. Alford then took over.

Davis has completed three seasons as Drake's coach. and has yet to have a winning record there.