Headhunter Chuck Neinas was the focus of an ESPN "Outside the Lines" report this past weekend. Much of this is territory the Wiz has covered, but with athletic directors screaming poverty at every opportunity — "We need seven home games to pay the bills!" — this is a good time for a refresher course.
Back in the day, athletic directors used to have a backup plan if a coach was fired or left for another job. Simply look at a list of potential candidates that was updated from year to year, then call the athletic directors at other schools and ask permission to speak with the parties. Everything was done in a gentlemanly way.
Granted, there were a few who preferred to be discreet and sought a "middleman" to help find a coach, and that often involved a well-heeled and trusted alum who was more than happy to be part of the process.
Today, you have headhunters like Neinas, who have made small fortunes doing the jobs athletic directors and college administrators were hired to do.
In 2006, the San DIego Union-Tribune reported that Neinas was paid $76,496.36 in an 18-month period by San Diego State. Neinas' involvement with the university started in 2004, when he paid $10,878.47 for an evaluation report on the athletic department. The 11-page report, which you can view at this link. is double- and sometimes triple-spaced and includes little in the way of criticism or administrative suggestions.
Why no criticism? Perhaps it was because Mike Bohn was San Diego State's athletic director at the time. Neinas helped him get the job. Their association dates to 1992, when Neinas was executive director of the College Football Association and he hired Bohn as the CFA's director of marketing.
When Bohn left for Colorado in 2005 (another $39,051.18 paycheck for Neinas), San Diego State hired Jeff Schemmel as his replacement ($30,000, plus expenses, for Neinas). Schemmel was a senior administrator at Minnesota when it was embroiled in a massive academic fraud case, one of the most notorious scandals in NCAA history. An independent investigation identified Schemmel as one of four administrators responsible for a lack of institutional control, but he somehow kept his job until Neinas found him a soft landing spot at San Diego State.
Schemmel returned the favor later that year by hiring Neinas for the search that resulted in the hiring of Chuck Long as football coach. Neinas sent an unitemized $30,000 bill to the university for his work in securing Long, who then returned the favor by hiring Toby Neinas, Chuck's son, as tight ends coach at a salary of $108,000.
Long was fired last season but is still being paid $715,000 per year by the university until his contract runs out on Dec. 31, 2010.
What does San Diego State have to show for all of this? A losing football team and athletic department that is struggling to make ends meet.
Thanks to Mike.