The new guy.
According to former colleague Bob Moosbrugger, now the AD at Bowling Green, Sterk’s acclimation process at SDSU was quicker than many expected.
"Jim was the fourth athletic director in my time" at SDSU. "In between those four athletic directors we had three interim athletic directors," Moosbrugger said. "When he came on, the donors felt, ‘Here we go again. We have to train another athletic director.’ What they saw in Jim was how genuine he was. He’s a great listener and he built trust with those donors, that what he was telling them was factual."
He is not from the car salesman branch of the AD tree. Foley described Sterk’s best traits as "sincerity, humility." Former Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden, who knows Sterk, included the adjectives "consistent" and "disciplined" and said the new guy is highly regarded nationally among athletic administrators.
Considering the events of the last year at Missouri, "consistent" sounds way sexier than before. When asked about how he convinced candidates that the situation at Missouri isn’t as chaotic as it seems, Foley said he didn’t do much convincing.
"I wanted somebody that wasn’t so concerned about me and have the self-confidence to come here and do the job independent of who was, quote-unquote, the chancellor," Foley said. "I put that right out there. And if people couldn’t jump over that hurdle, then I wasn’t interested."
The approach worked with Sterk, who said after meeting with Foley, "I could go to war with that guy."
When Rhoades left, much of the speculation centered around Jon Sundvold and Mike Owens, two "True Sons" short on college administrative experience but long on love for the university and business background. Mizzou, perhaps more than most, values its own. The football coach and basketball coach are both alums, and "Mizzou Made" billboards are displayed all around the state.
But there is also a case that Sterk brings something else, something the university could use more of. He walks in with an appreciation of MU’s stature and potential, but also new eyes. All four executive associate ADs — including Reesman — have degrees from MU. Maybe some turnover is coming, but particularly when you add the coaches, MU’s decision-makers do not lack for institutional knowledge.
If Sterk can find the balance between respecting what’s here and imagining what could be, then this could be a productive partnership.