“While there’s still debate on what Byrne’s long-term legacy might be, there’s very little doubt that a major part of the next athletic director’s will be what happens with Kyle Field.”
I wrote that almost two months ago now when laying out the biggest things a new A&M Athletic Director would be facing. Texas A&M needed a new athletic director who could help guide the many aspects of a stadium overhaul. In addition, another of the three keys I wrote about was knowledge of the SEC.
“At best, (Bill) Byrne’s attitude about the move to the SEC could be described as compliant. The Aggies need an athletic director who embraces the move and sees it as a chance to make their mark on the future of Texas A&M.”
That’s why, given the importance of those two aspects, there’s no other description for A&M’s imminent hire of South Carolina’s Eric Hyman than an absolute home run.
Let’s start with facilities. Since his arrival at South Carolina, the Gamecocks have opened a new baseball stadium, made major upgrades to the football stadium, including renovations of the locker rooms, coaching offices, recruiting rooms and the addition of a players lounge. They’ve renovated the locker rooms for both men’s and women’s basketball, and further additions to the football stadium are still in progress.
He’s also made some big time coaching hires. Most notably and most recently, hiring Frank Martin away from Kansas State was one of the most talked about coaching moves in recent seasons. At TCU Hyman hired both Dennis Franchione, and then had the vision to promote Gary Patterson from within to be the next head coach.
He’s also no stranger to conference changes. Hyman was an important part of TCU’s move from the WAC to Conference USA in 2001, and then again to the Mountain West in 2005.
It wasn’t easy for Hyman. When he arrived he made the unpopular choice to overhaul the football season ticketing distribution. A decision that some South Carolina fans still have issues with, but one that had to be made if the Gamecocks were going to bring their facilities up to par with the rest of the SEC. It’s that kind of leadership that the Aggies are going to need as they head into the new era for the athletic department.
It’s also big news from a publicity standpoint. The Aggies have gone out and hired an acting athletic director of an SEC school. One that is well respected around the country, and has had success at his current job. It’s a bold move for the Aggies, but one that sends a clear message that they aren’t playing around about their future success in the SEC. Hyman was courted by his alma mater North Carolina last year, and still elected to stay at South Carolina. In fact, I've heard from several people that Texas A&M is one of only a couple of schools that would have been able to pry him away.
We’ll have more as things become official in the coming days, but wouldn't it be fitting if things were wrapped up in time to have Hyman in front of the microphone by Monday? That's the day that Texas A&M athletics is already hosting a large event at the Cox-McFerrin Indoor Complex to celebrate A&M's entrance into the SEC that becomes official on Sunday.