It was only a matter of time before San Diego’s athletics advantage and a vacancy in the office of the Mississippi State Sports Director intersected, and it seems that the time has come.
Auburn was trotting John Cohen over the weekend as his new AD with another SEC member from Mississippi, and SDSU Athletic director John David Wicker, an MSU graduate, is considered a lead candidate to replace him.
Wicker worked for a decade at SDSU in two different stages, first as Assistant Sports Director under Jim Stalk and as of 2016 as AD after Sterk’s departure for Missouri. The contract, which pays him about $ 400,000 in wages and benefits, expires in June.
Another attraction besides the SEC and the siren at your alma mater: Cohen was earning $ 1.1 million a year.
“Always flattering to be mentioned at his alma mater,” Wicker said in an SMS. “I am happy in San Diego. We have some significant opportunities ahead of us and I am currently focusing on taking advantage of them. “
It is a diplomatic way of addressing their aspirations for the conference of power. Wicker has listed SDSU as the most likely addition to the Pac-12 should it decide to replace UCLA and USC as they depart for the Big Ten in 2024. Transparency could come in the next few weeks as Pac-12 finishes a new media legal deal and then considers expansion. It is known that Wicker was in regular contact with representatives of Pac-12 and Big 12.
But even a seat at any of the conferences would not match the riches offered by the SEC, either personally or professionally. It is the country’s largest football conference, and influences from other sports have begun to pay off on the pitch. The SEC appears to have split off even more in the rapidly changing landscape of college sports, with war coffers of cash now that athletes can monetize their name, image and likeness and transfer with fewer restrictions.
The state of Mississippi has 393 athletes in 16 teams, compared to SDSU’s 533 and 17, but the annual budget is almost twice as high according to the latest federal figures: $ 99 million versus $ 50 million.
“I think it’s a great job because it’s a great place to live,” Bulldogs football coach Mike Leach told a press conference on Monday. “The people you work with are great too. It is not perfect. I would definitely clear a couple, but not too many. I mean, less here than most places. This immediately puts him above other places.
“I think it’s a fantastic place. It’s a very down-to-earth place. I think it’s a pragmatic place that tries to find solutions to problems, not get yourself politically driven by kissing too many rings. The most important thing is you want a guy who really wants to be here and really wants to do it. You want a guy who won’t bother you, who understands that coaches in all sports are there for a reason and the role of the Sports Director is to provide support, not the coach.
Wicker was the guy at SDSU who takes his coaches effortlessly while focusing on fighting the competitive offer for Mission Valley real estate and building the $ 310 million Snapdragon Stadium there in less than two years. The soccer team won 12 matches last season. Men’s basketball team is ranked 19th in the Associated Press poll and was dropped from season 30-2 three years ago.
“They’ve done a great job with the stadium and the way they present themselves,” said Arizona AD Dave Heeke last September when SDSU hosted the Wildcats in their inaugural soccer game at Snapdragon. “It’s a great show and JD is doing great as a sports director. I’m impressed.”
The state of Mississippi did not announce a schedule to replace Cohen, who played and coached baseball there before becoming AD. But Wicker’s name was already mentioned as a viable replacement, along with John Currie of Wake Forest, Jared Benko of Georgia Southern, Scott Wetherbee of eastern Michigan, and a few internal candidates.
SDSU president Adela de la Torre declined to comment, referring to Wicker’s statement.
Wicker graduated from Mississippi State in 1992 with a degree in Professional Accounting and obtained a Masters in Sports Management in Georgia. He also worked for two years at Southern Miss, 10 years in Washington State, and 16 months at Georgia Tech between periods at SDSU. He still has a family in Mississippi.
The Georgia Tech sports director’s position also opened this fall, and Wicker has been on the candidate lists, although he is believed to have not made a formal application. Georgia Tech hired J Batt, an Alabama deputy AD.