Miami AD Radakovich talks football, facilities and UM contracts

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University of Miami athletic director Dan Radakovich said Wednesday that the first 100 days of his tenure have been “incredibly rewarding” and that the Hurricanes are immersed in the initiatives they have undertaken, including “a dive deep enough” in installations in the future.

Radakovich, the former Clemson AD, was announced in early December as the new UM AD to replace Blake James just days after Mario Cristobal was named head football coach to replace Manny Diaz.

Here are some of the questions Radakovich addressed during a Zoom call with local media:

The university has announced several extensions for coaches in recent weeks. Many coaches did not receive them, including Paige Yaroshuk Tews (women’s tennis) and Gino DiMare (baseball). Are you still in the evaluation process or is there something to read about it?

“There were a number of these extensions that were in the works before I took over in January. So some of them, if they had been done immediately, would have been done maybe four, five six months. But they were sort of in limbo.

“Paige and Gino are amazing. We’re waiting for the end of the season and we’re moving forward. I wouldn’t read anything into it. A few extensions you saw were leftovers so to speak. And we just had to fill in all the proper docs… Paige and Gino have amazing seasons, so nothing to read into that.

We saw some photos of the ripped up and redone locker rooms and were told that the [indoor facility] field will be extended to 100 meters. What are some of the details of the immediate changes to the facilities and what’s on deck for the next project?

“The football locker room is the project of the day. Try to take care of it before the student-athletes come back for fall camp. The rest of the stuff is the deep dive into the facilities we’re doing right now to figure out how the process will work for the Soffer Indoor expansion to 100 meters.

“Other major pieces of the facility that we need…the Watsco Center – where it is as far as basketball goes [and] a few smaller projects with regards to weight rooms associated with basketball. But what we really hope is that this summer, before launching it in the fall, we want to have an installation plan that has been reviewed and approved by the university community on campus and by the board of administration. . This will allow us to take this and share it with you all [and] our fan base and start raising funds for these facilities. It’s just not ready for prime time yet. It is still in the assessment stage to understand where we need to go and how we need to get there.

Mario has built up a very large staff in football. Do you foresee that growth in the near future. Is there a limit to the number of people you can have in the football program as assistants other than the NCAA mandated 10 for on-field assistants. What about someone you know now who hasn’t been announced and will be joining the staff soon?

“The only limitations imposed by the NCAA in college football are the head coach and 10 assistants. … After that it is really up to the institution to know how you want to organize your sports program and in particular your football program. I think Mario is on the negative side there He just finished spring training [and is] going through his conversations with players right now. He and I will meet I’m sure next week to get all our stuff together – questions I have and I’m sure he has too.

“But I don’t know if there’s going to be a new influx of individuals. The team he has there now is pretty much complete.”

So, is there anyone you know who will join the program?

“No, not that I know of.”

What about [former Canes great and current Seattle Seahawks assistant to the general manager] Alonzo Highsmith? He was expected to join you in the coming weeks. Have there been discussions with Alonzo in recent weeks and if he joins you what would be the job?

“At this point, it’s really premature to talk about it. … I have known Alonzo for many years. In his role as a professional scout, he visited a number of schools where I worked over the years, so we kept in touch. In fact, he was one of the first people to call me once I accepted the job. So I have known Alonzo for a long time. Mario too.

“Alonzo has a great job right now and lives in Seattle. So what the future holds, I really can’t predict on that one. Alonzo is a hurricane through and through, and if somewhere in the future it might work, we’d certainly be looking to try and do something like that, but I couldn’t tell you that that, by any stretch of the imagination, is imminent.

Your thoughts on the space you need to work with to expand facilities?

“It’s no secret here that we don’t have acres and acres to work with on our campus… So we have to be a little more judicious with our space and how we put it together – that’s why this facility dives deep and how it works maybe a little more extensive than you would have in other places… That doesn’t mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that we don’t have the space to do the things we need to create a great environment for our [student-athletes].”

Attendance has been a challenge for UM basketball programs over the years, even during major seasons. As a newcomer with a new point of view, is there anything you think you can do to increase attendance for men’s and women’s programs?

“Dan Boyd and his in-game entertainment team have taken a step forward. We have to keep coming out in the community, make sure the ACC schedule that we get is good because this season we’ve had some incredible crowds and three or four different times the students sold their lot. [1,800 tickets] and played a role in the game. These are top priorities because these will directly create dollars… Most [college] basketball arenas have the same number of spectators as we have at Watsco Center, so how do we create the opportunities for premium experiences for those who want them? »

Looking at the men’s and women’s basketball team playoffs and the conversations you’ve had with coaches Jim Larranaga and Katie Meier, what are some of the things they need to continue on that trajectory?

“We are looking to expand their gym and strength and conditioning area. This is something that is really important and is at the top of our list of short-term installs. Coach Larranaga is looking to replace [associate head coach] Chris Caputo and I hope it will be done shortly. We’re looking for consistency because the race at Elite Eight was so exciting and captivating not only for the college community but also for the greater Miami community and we want to make sure it doesn’t become a rare occasion. We want to make sure they have the right resources.

How did the ballpark’s small capacity hurt UM’s chance of hosting a Regional or Super Regional? [fewer than 4,000] seats and the NCAA [prefers capacities] 5000 or 6000?

“I think there are a lot of places in the country that don’t reach that 5,000 or 6,000 seat capacity. These are rare for ballparks across the country. Especially when you look at regionals, teams work their way into those areas, and baseball has been very, very good at having the opportunity to reward teams that deserve to host.

“We have tabled our offers for Regionals and Super Regionals and if the team continues to play well and earn their place in a host position, we will host here in Miami as Miami has done many times in the past. “

Miami being private doesn’t release a lot of numbers. We have an idea of ​​what Mario does and his staff is much larger than the old ones. It’s an incredible financial commitment. How satisfied are you that there is a financial sustainability plan for the future. It’s not a market that sells all the time.

“Ticket sales are part of that. Funds donated to the Hurricane Club are another part of it. The university certainly understands the commitments it has made. That’s part of it too. There are a finite number of dollars you can earn with a football stadium, whether on campus or off campus. So we’re looking to maximize that and we’ve made progress in the number of season tickets we’ve sold and individual game tickets we’ve sold. We feel really good about it.

“In a private school, when you have tuition and fees at the level we have here, there’s always some college help that’s going to help balance the books for the athletic program. Our job is to continue to create revenue streams, whether it’s ticket sales, licenses, sponsorship opportunities, donated funds, whether it’s money from sharing revenues from the Atlantic Coast Conference. All of these things come together to ensure that we limit the dollars that come from the institution as much as possible.

This story was originally published April 20, 2022 1:45 p.m.

Miami Herald sportswriter Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes’ football editor since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She’s won several national APSE writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to college football playoffs, major marathons to the Olympics.

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