Mike Alden spoke to a bunch of laptop screens for the last time as Mizzou's athletic director yesterday, and he was pretty candid in his answers. Lots of interesting reads here, and kudos to David Morrison for transcribing like the whole thing.
When Mack Rhoades asks for advice, what are the main topics he's asking about?
"It could be something like, if we're taking a look at our multimedia rights agreement, what's a window that we'd have an opportunity to take a look at that? It may be as specific as that. Or it could be just, 'What's the name of your courtesy car dealer? What's his name? What's his address? I might want to send him a thank-you note.' Or it could just be 'Tell me where your office is going to be on campus so I can come by and see it.' It's a variety of things, some that have been specific. But it's just really a conversation."
Why is baseball so far behind the rest of the SEC in attendance?
"When we made the move to the SEC, our success in baseball in the Big 12 over the last eight or nine years was pretty good. ... But what we really need to focus on is continuing to win -- which we have -- and continuing to try and fill this place. Now the situation of this stadium, where it's situated, it can be kind of challenging from a parking standpoint and how to traverse the hill. We've tried to have shuttles and all those kinds of things. You've got to continue to navigate how can you make it even more convenient knowing your stadium is going to be right there -- I'm not putting anything else out there. The baseball stadium is staying right there -- how are you going to make it easier for your fans to get there? I think when you do that, you're going to keep filling that place. You know, Vanderbilt seats 3,000. They fill it every game. And they're right there in the middle of Nashville and that's not an easy place to park either. How do we take some of those examples? They win at a high level. I get it. But how do we take some of those examples to be able to fill this place. I think Mack and his team will be able to do that."
Have you noticed any thawing between MU and Big 12 schools since then?
"I think so. I think the more time that goes between our leaving the Big 12 -- I know that. We made that decision to go to the SEC -- I think the more time that goes along and the Big 12 is doing great and Bob Bowlsby is doing a terrific job with them, I think the more time that goes the more that wound heals. I think that I'm at least sensing that. I know all the ADs in the Big 12. I'm hoping in the not too distant future, you're going to see more opportunities. Whether that is the University of Kansas or other schools, I don't know. But I think you're going to see more opportunities for Mizzou and the Big 12 to compete on a certain level. I think part of it that's going to help on that -- and this is my personal opinion -- is my exit. I really do. It's not about me personally, but I think as you have changing of things, Dr. (R. Bowen) Loftin's entrance has really helped things as far as that type of issue. It's really going to help that thawing. I think Mack will help that thawing, because there's not a lot of history with those people that were part of that move. I'm sensing it, I feel much better about it and I think in the not too distant future we'll kind of see some opportunities come out of it. I hope so."
Over time, Alden became a major player in the AD world, which at times, he acknowledged Tuesday, held him back from addressing issues under his own nose at Mizzou. Last year, when ESPN told the story of former MU swimmer Sasha Menu Courey, who alleged she was raped by MU football players before her 2011 suicide, Alden waited several days before addressing the situation with reporters while he attended a conference in Florida for the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. He admitted Tuesday that was a mistake.
"In retrospect, for me I wish I would have been able (to) just get on a plane and get on home," he said.
But both the vehicle and Alden's tenure experienced wear and tear — and hit plenty of speed bumps. Between Title IX investigations, a stagnant basketball program and messy departures of several head coaches, it's hard to define Alden's legacy as a flawless one.
"In some critical issues, maybe it would've been better to be more out in front than I was," Alden said. "As you look, there are a variety of things you wish you would've handled differently."
Alden says he believes his departure will help speed up thawing of relationships between Big 12 schools and Mizzou. Not because it's a personal issue with him, but just a different cast of characters.
I asked him about kansas. He said he was disappointed kansas chose to discontinue the rivalry. "In the heat of the moment, I understand you're making decisions because you're ticked, you're upset, whatever the term you may use…but you're making a decision that's a generational type decision…We're making decisions for decades of people before us and decades of people after us." Says if the rivalry comes back, it will be stronger than ever.
Alden didn’t really have an explanation for why it’s proved so challenging to grow the basketball program the same way football has developed.
"If I could put my finger on it and knew why it was, certainly we wouldn’t have wanted that to happen," he said. "We would have wanted to have that sustained success. It’s probably a combination of whether it’s recruiting philosophy, investment philosophy, who knows, at some points maybe an injury or whatever it might be. It could be a whole combination of things. Nothing that I’ve been able to specifically identify. As I look at it with Kim right now, I certainly know that he’s a Missouri guy that’s committed to this institution. Knowing that he has great values, it’s my hope and my belief that he’ll get this thing stabilized with some consistent things."
Swimming & Diving
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