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Alden combined a fundraising firehose with personal relationships

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Mike Alden has been a fundraising robot, but he also built relationships with his employees and their student athletes. UPDATED WITH QUOTES FROM PRESS CONFERENCE.

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The Trib: Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden resigning effective Aug. 31
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou's Alden to step down in August
PowerMizzou: Alden leaving AD role
The Missourian: Missouri Director of Athletics Mike Alden to step down

Mike Alden's mistakes were mostly public. If you have a bad relationship with the coach of an Olympic sport, or if the student-athletes don't like you very much because you're always/never around, the outside world might not ever know or acknowledge it. But pretty much anything Alden did wrong involved the public realm. Mizzou had plenty of PR stumbles, and the way things unfolded at the end of the Quin Snyder era nearly cost him his job.

(But on the bright side, the end of the Quin era eventually brought about my entry into the blogger realm because when other sites began creating "Fire Alden" petitions, I realized that for my own sanity, I needed to create my own little corner of the Internet universe.)

But if you have any doubts about Alden's ability to simply do his job, PR and optics aside, allow Mizzou coaches to try to change your mind. The Trib's Blake Toppmeyer got some incredible quotes from wrestling coach Brian Smith, softball coach Ehren Earleywine, soccer coach Bryan Blitz, and volleyball coach Wayne Kreklow regarding their relationship with Alden. I'm sharing a pretty big excerpt here, but trust me, there's quite a bit more at the link. More than worth the click.

Brian Smith:

"I remember sitting one time when he was supposed to be supposedly fired during the whole other mess" during the Quin Snyder era – "I’ve been here all 17 years with him – and I just remember going, ‘Ugh,’ because I would sit at meetings and head coaches’ meetings with all the wrestling coaches at times at NCAAs, and I’d hear coaches complain" about their athletic director, "and they’re like, ‘Well, how’s your guy?’ And I’d say, ‘I love my guy.’ I said, ‘I love the administration at Missouri. They do everything to help the student athlete.’

"And I believe that. I truly believe that, because it’s the truth. My team was crushed when they heard it. I told them at the end of practice. He was just at practice last week. He was sitting there and talking to the guys. That’s something special.

Ehren Earleywine:

"I think initially the administration as a whole said, ‘Let’s upgrade the softball facility.’ And Mike was the one who kind of said, ‘No, let’s do this right. Let’s build a new one.’ He wanted it to be the best in the Midwest. That was a huge show of support for us that I had never felt before at any other institution I’d been at.

"Here’s a guy that came to a lot of our games. Can you imagine being an AD of 20 sports, how busy you would be? And then to show up at games when it’s cold or windy or you’re playing a midmajor, and there’s Mike Alden sitting in the stands. That never happens at other schools, or at least at the schools I’ve coached at. That never happens.

"He gave his heart and soul to this place. I don’t know how he did it for 17 years. I don’t know how you could run and operate at that gear for that long, but I admire him for it. I hope that he gets some much-needed rest and he can downshift and sit back and enjoy all that he’s accomplished here."

Wayne Kreklow:

"We’ve always been so impressed with Mike. … I’ve always felt we’ve been really lucky, because the one thing I’ve told people all over, repeatedly, is the thing that I thought was real unique and we appreciated so much in our position, is that Mike wanted everybody to be competitive. It wasn’t just all about football and basketball. At so many places, that’s it. That’s all somebody like Mike, somebody in his position, cares about. They could care less about Olympic sports. Just stay out of the way, don’t cause problems, don’t be last, but other than that, we don’t care. And I thought that was one of the things that I felt really separated Mike from a lot of other ADs. He cared.

"I told coaching friends, there’s pressure that goes along with that. Be careful what you wish for. He was very demanding. He expected people to do well. But I would much, much rather work for somebody like that and feel that than work for somebody who doesn’t care. That, certainly, I felt like, set him apart from a lot of other ADs from around the country.""

Alden's announced resignation was met with plenty of "Aw, damn" reactions from other athletic directors and administrators, including Arizona's Greg Byrne. When you see things like "tremendous impact on our industry," it's a compact way of saying Alden combined a strong, nearly robotic fundraising ability with the ability to craft personal relationships. He was far from perfect, but he brought a unique skillset to the table, and it will be difficult to replace. Mizzou better knock this hire out of the park.

UPDATE: Some tweets from Friday morning's press conference.