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SPORTS    Thursday, May 08, 2003         Subscribe!
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A warm UVM welcome

By Hillary Read
Free Press Staff Writer

The major piece of the University of Vermont athletic puzzle fell into place with the hiring of Robert Corran as director of athletics Wednesday. Members of his new community, including the people who will work for him, like the initial fit.

"As you get to know Bob Corran, you will feel what I felt from the first moment I encountered him: the quality of his character and the timbre of the leadership that he will bring to our campus," UVM president Daniel Fogel said.

Corran, former six-year athletic director at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, gained universal approval with coaches, administrators and associates in the application process with his ambition and infectious optimism.

"I got to meet him last week when he was visiting campus. I'm very impressed," said former UVM men's basketball player and athletic council chairman Barry Stone, who has been involved with the school's athletics for almost a half-century. "I think he'll be very successful."

"What really jumped out for me was his background, his experience, his education and the way he presents himself. He has a real focus, a plan for what he wants to do," UVM field hockey coach Nicki Houghton said. "I would hope that in the next two years, we're going to see real, significant differences."

Coaches hailed Corran's record of success at UMD -- where 14 varsity teams have won 11 conference championships in 2002-03 -- and a reputed willingness to make tough decisions as welcome signs of change in the department's philosophy.

"I think what's happening now is that we're all going to be held to another standard. When you want to get things done, people are going to be held accountable," said 17-year UVM men's basketball coach Tom Brennan, who led his team to its first NCAA bid in March.

"For many, many years, this was a fabulous place to coach, because there was never a great deal of pressure. You really didn't have to worry about getting fired as long as you didn't do anything stupid. But now, I think the bar's been raised, and all the coaches like that. We want that."

UVM's most storied program, the men's hockey team, last enjoyed national prominence in 1996 with a trip to the Frozen Four. Coach Mike Gilligan is hopeful that Corran's appointment will help the program regain a place at the top of the ECAC.

"What's happened is that we've gotten behind the eight-ball a little bit. Everyone else is going the civic center route; everyone else is really pushing the envelope in admissions and financial aid; everyone else is keeping up with each other in terms of compensation packages, recruiting expenses. These are the things that are going to have to be addressed to give us a chance at the Frozen Four again," Gilligan said.

"I certainly think that if he does some similar things that he did at UMD, we could be back in the hunt."

One of Corran's competitors for the position, UVM assistant athletic director Jeff Schulman, is excited about the prospect of helping Corran's transition.

"None of us knows exactly how our responsibilities might shift, but we're excited to have him here," Schulman said. "He's a great person with great experience, and we as administrators are here to support him and help build the success of UVM athletics."

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