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Archive for Friday, April 24, 1998

THE BIG 12 CONFERENCE WILL SOON BE LOOKING FOR A NEW COMMISSIONER, BUT KU ATHLETICS DIRECTOR BOB FREDERICK IS TIGHT-LIPPED ON THE POSSIBILITY OF REPLACING STEVE HATCHELL.

April 24, 1998

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Big 12 Conference commissioner Steve Hatchell is a lame duck, but Hatchell's short-term status hasn't prompted Kansas athletics director Bob Frederick to mail a resume to Dallas.

Frederick was runner-up when Hatchell was named commissioner of the new conference in March of 1995.

When Hatchell leaves, would Frederick be interested in the job again?

``I think it would be inappropriate for me to respond to that question,'' Frederick said Thursday, ``because Steve is our commissioner, and will be for some time to come.''

Hatchell's contract does have 20 months to run, but Hatchell said Thursday he plans to leave around the ``first of June or the first of July.''

Hatchell told Texas A&M president Ray Bowen, chair of the league CEOs, he was interested in a joining the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

According to the Associated Press, however, pressure has been applied on Hatchell to step aside because of management and staff problems at the league office in Dallas.

Bowen refuted rumors Hatchell has been asked to pursue other interests.

``This is not a force out,'' Bowen said during a Thursday morning teleconference.

``None of the Big 12 office staff has brought any problem to me. Any allegations about sexual harassment are totally false. As of today he is fully empowered as commissioner of the Big 12 Conference. There are no problems,'' Bowen added.

Hatchell was commissioner of the Southwest Conference when the Big Eight Conference annexed SWC members Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Baylor in 1995 to form the Big 12.

Hatchell and KU's Frederick were the two finalists for the commissioner's job. Hatchell won by a reported vote of 7-5 when two members of the north division -- Colorado and Missouri -- voted for him.

Frederick received votes from Iowa State, Kansas State, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma State.

Hatchell admitted there have been personnel problems since he assumed the post.

``I know there are some people who are unhappy,'' he told the Associated Press.

Bowen said he empathized with Hatchell.

``There is a lot of trauma in starting a new entity, and there always is stress involved in the early going,'' Bowen said.

Just last week, the league lost its associate commissioner for administration and compliance when Britton Banowsky quit to take a job in the private sector. Banowsky's departure isn't believed to be connected to the Hatchell rumors, though.

Bowen said the CEOs have hired Dave Martin, currently associate athletics director at Oklahoma State, to join the league office as Chief Operating Officer.

``I don't know if he will eventually become interim commissioner,'' Bowen said. ``We'll maybe look at him for both positions.''

The Big 12 has three other associate commissioners -- Donnie Duncan, Prentice Gautt and Tim Allen.

Duncan runs the Big 12 championship football game and Allen is in the charge of the men's basketball tournament. Both live in Dallas.

Gautt, who lives in Lawrence, is in charge of academic services and life skills.

Hatchell has considerable experience with the Olympics. He was a member of the USOC public relations committee in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., the '84 Summer Games in Los Angeles, the Winter and Summer games in 1988 in Calgary and Seoul and the '92 Summer Games in Barcelona.

-- Chuck Woodling's phone message number is 832-7147. His e-mail address is cwoodling@ljworld.com.

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