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FSU TO NAME NEW ATHLETIC DIRECTOR

Department in need of morale boost expected to turn today to Utah State's AD.

Florida State president T.K. Wetherell is expected to introduce Utah State athletic director Randy Spetman as FSU's new athletic director at a 10 a.m. news conference today in Tallahassee.

Neither Wetherell nor Spetman could be reached for comment Sunday.

Spetman was in Tallahassee on Friday as the last of four candidates who interviewed to replace Dave Hart. The others: former FSU athletic department administrator and current Georgia Tech associate athletic director Wayne Hogan; Detroit Lions senior vice president and assistant general manager Martin Mayhew, a former star cornerback for FSU and the Bucs; and ex-Florida Marlins president Don Smiley.

"I'm disappointed, but I wish the university well," Mayhew told the Times on Sunday. "It would have been a great job, but I have a great job."

Spetman, 55, who spent nearly three decades in the military, including as chief of bomber planning in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, was the athletic director at his alma mater, the Air Force Academy, from 1995 to 2004 and at Utah State since the summer of 2004.

He came highly recommended from consultant Chuck Neinas, who recommended him to USF when it was looking for an athletic director in 2004.

"I think they all interviewed well, but if it is him, he'll be a wonderful choice," said Barbara Palmer, a member of FSU's search advisory committee and former women's athletic director at the school. "I describe him as a gentle giant and very contrary to what you'd think someone in the military would be like. He's calm, intuitive and has very good listening skills, and I think his ability to create a team will be different than we've ever had."

Ever since Wetherell made the decision more than a year ago to remake the athletic department senior staff, leading to the departure of Hart and other longtime assistants, morale in the Moore Center has been low.

"Team building is essential right now," Palmer said.

Interestingly, at the top of Spetman's resume he highlights three traits: team builder/fundraiser/visionary.

But as important as the job of putting together and developing a diverse, cohesive unit will be for the next athletic director, Job 1 will be dealing with the fallout from an academic misconduct scandal involving dozens of student-athletes. The school is preparing its final report to the NCAA, and someone as respected as Spetman could help if or when the NCAA investigates. Under Spetman, Utah State teams not only have fared well on the field (men's basketball reached the NCAA Tournament in 2005, 2006 and 2007), but off of it. It led the Western Athletic Conference with a 78 percent graduation rate the past three years.

"The first order of business will be to evaluate the protocols in places so this type of thing won't happen again," said Palmer, who might emerge as a candidate for a second tour of duty in FSU's new-look athletic department. "I think he'll jump right on that, if he is chosen."

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or at (813) 226-3347.

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