Reaction: Steve Watson Departing SBU
News came down last night that current AD Steve Watson was taking the same position at Loyola Chicago. To those close to the university and athletic program this news was really no news at all. It has been no secret over the last year plus that Watson has been taking interviews with other schools and was growing less and less enchanted with the inter-workings of the department. Anytime a professional is taking interview after interview it is obvious they want out. From what we’ve heard Watson was more or less tired of dealing with red tape and maneuvering with a microscopic budget compared to other A10 departments. Last night, Adrian Woj (he of Bona grad fame) tweeted about a possible rift within the university between Watson and Richard Trietley who oversaw the department. I’m sure if he’s tweeting about it it’s true, so Watson probably had his reasons for leaving.
Watson did a nice job as AD to be sure. His hiring of Schmidt almost as soon as he took the job was the biggest decision he was ever going to make and he nailed it. Schmidt won the Bonnies an A10 Tittle in 2012 and has turned the program into a competitive team year-in and year-out. The women’s basketball program has been nothing short of amazing during Watson’s tenure. As for the non-revenue sports, they’ve been up and down…mostly down. The cross country team has never been good, men’s soccer has become one of the worst teams in the country, baseball has slipped and the same could probably be said for women’s softball…though I can’t say I really follow those teams or did research. The swimming team has been a bright spot almost every single year. But honestly, 95% of alums don’t care about those sports, they care about men’s hoops. And in that regard, Watson deserves an A for hiring Schmidt, helping turn the program into a winner and keeping Mark following 2012 season when other schools certainly came calling to invite Schmidt to interview for a bigger opening.
The A10, and Bonaventure to a more significant degree, has been and likely will always be, a stepping stone job for those working in athletics. Guys take the job, do well and bounce for a bigger school where they can make more money and try to continue to climb the ladder. That’s just how it works. So those ticked off at Watson for leaving don’t understand college athletics. If Schmidt left after the 2012 season I would have felt the same way. That’s just how it is. The fact that Watson was able to get this job only highlights the success he had in Olean. Wish the guy well, he deserves it.
The university now has a major decision to make in finding Steve’s replacement. The new hire’s biggest challenge? Keeping the ball rolling with the basketball programs who are already on the right track…likely this is easier said than done.