Bob Corran likes challenges. The
University of Vermont athletic department promises plenty.
The man charged with raising the "competitive metabolism" of
Catamount teams was introduced Wednesday as the school's new
director of athletics, greeted by a room full of varsity coaches and
Corran assumes leadership of a 22-team
department faced with ongoing financial constraints, substandard
facilities and numerous vacancies on its coaching roster. It also is
a department eager to meet those challenges.
coaches are energized by their inclusion in the grand plan of
first-year president Dan Fogel for UVM's future.
clear that athletics is a critical part of the president's 10-year
vision," Corran said in his opening remarks at Wednesday's news
conference at Waterman Building. "When I met the coaches and staff,
I knew that ambition would be realized."
Corran, 54, arrives
after a six-year run as athletic director at the University of
Minnesota-Duluth, where he faced many of the same hurdles he will
inherit at UVM. He succeeds Rick Farnham, whose 11-year tenure ends
with his retirement June 30. Corran begins work June 16.
Fogel consistently has said athletics plays a major role in
the university's future, serving as a vital conduit to the student
body, the alumni and the community. The president's sweeping vision
of the school in 2012 includes a 9,000-seat arena for hockey and
basketball as well as new venues for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey
Fogel's commitment to that vision can be seen
in Corran's $140,000 annual salary. That's $55,000 more than Farnham
made this year.
"His job is advancing the commitment to
excellence in an athletic program that really prizes
student-athletes, with the emphasis on student," Fogel said.
Corran shares his new boss' vision, referring to UVM as "a
sleeping giant" athletically.
"It's been said that the
athletic program is the front porch of a university," Corran said.
"I think here at UVM, we have a very strong and stable foundation
and there's lots of good wood. It's now time to build that porch."
He built a winning attitude in Duluth, a 14-team Division II
program that fields Division I men's and women's ice hockey teams.
Corran took over there in 1997 with the school mired in a
fund-raising scandal left by his predecessor.
came in and got us pointed in the correct direction," said Karen
Stromme, who just finished her 20th season as women's basketball
coach. "He's extremely gifted at bringing different groups together
and getting them focused."
Minnesota-Duluth won 58
conference titles during Corran's reign. The women's hockey team is
the three-time NCAA champion. The football team earned its first
NCAA berth in 70 years. The women's soccer team won 15 games. The
baseball team is the top seed in its conference tournament.
"He put UMD to the next level and made all of us expect more
of ourselves than we ever had before," Stromme said.
possibility invigorates Catamount coaches.
"I think the
bar's been raised, and all the coaches like that," said Tom Brennan,
UVM men's basketball coach.
"Just having the focus, the
vision, the energy, the goals should help us all become a little
more unified," said Nicki Houghton, field hockey coach and a member
of the 11-person search committee that recommended Corran.
Corran's first assignment will be filling coaching
vacancies. The women's basketball offices are empty after the
departures of Keith Cieplicki and his assistants last week. The
skiing, track-and-field and cross-country jobs remain open as well.
Many of the school's athletic facilities are inadequate or
deteriorating. Patrick Gym is a 3,000-seat band box that UVM
assistant athletic director Jeff Schulman suspects as a culprit in
the school's failure to land the America East Conference men's
basketball tournament next winter.
last facelift was 13 years ago. The track is in such disrepair the
school cannot play host to home meets. The lack of a turf field
keeps spring teams indoors well into April.
athletic budget is about $6.5 million, among the lowest in America
East. Its coaches are among the lowest paid Division I coaches in
Corran acknowledged these shortcomings, then
said the pieces and people were in place to tackle them.
just really seems like the people want to be successful, and what
they're looking for is somebody to facilitate that," he said.
"That's always been a real attraction for me; I get a kick out of
"My general approach has always been, 'Let's not whine
about our lot in life; let's get out and create what we want it to
be.'" Contact Patrick Garrity at 660-1868 or firstname.lastname@example.org