Rob Higgins says he’s not pursuing Bulls AD job

MONICA HERNDON   |   TimesRob Higgins, Tampa Bay Sport Commission Executive Director, and members of various law enforcement agencies spoke during a press conference about security preparations for the College Football Playoff on Tuesday December 20, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa.
MONICA HERNDON | TimesRob Higgins, Tampa Bay Sport Commission Executive Director, and members of various law enforcement agencies spoke during a press conference about security preparations for the College Football Playoff on Tuesday December 20, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa.
Published June 8 2018
Updated June 8 2018

One of the most prominent names linked to the USF athletic director vacancy said Friday he has no intentions of pursuing the job.

Bulls alumnus Rob Higgins, highly successful executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, said in a texted statement to the Tampa Bay Times he instead plans to assist his alma mater in its search  for Mark Harlan's replacement.

"I love what we do now and do not plan to be a candidate," said Higgins, whose group has helped Tampa land a number of prominent events such as the 2017 College Football Playoff title game and '18 NHL All-Star Game.

"However, I've had great conversations with USF and will be helping with the AD search. I couldn't be more excited to work with (Board of Trustees) Chair (Brian) Lamb, President (Judy) Genshaft, and Dr. (Bill) Sutton to find the right person to lead the next chapter for USF Athletics, which is poised to be the best one yet."

Harlan resigned last Friday for the same job at Utah. In an ensuing Times survey conducted on social media, Higgins received the second-most votes as Harlan's preferred successor, behind Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks.

Sutton, veteran director of the nationally heralded Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program at USF, was tabbed to head a six-member AD search advisory committee. On Friday, the school confirmed it has retained Eastman & Beaudine — the same national search firm it used in its previous AD search — to help find Harlan's successor.

Also on the committe: former USF men's basketball player Anddrikk Frazier; Karen Holbrook, USF Sarasota-Manatee regional chancellor; Joel Momberg, USF senior vice president and CEO of the USF Foundation; George Morgan, chair of the USF Foundation Board; and USF alumnus Jose Valiente.

Scott Kull, USF's deputy AD for external relations, is serving as interim AD.

Meantime, former Louisville AD Tom Jurich, whose name also has been  attached to the USF vacancy, downplayed the speculation in an exclusive interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Jurich, who gave Bulls football coach Charlie Strong his first head coaching job at Louisville in 2010, was fired last fall amid a pay-for-play corruption scandal in college basketball.  Jurich has a condo on Clearwater Beach.

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