Mack Rhoades off and running at Missouri
COLUMBIA (AP) - Asked how to raise attendance at sporting events, new Missouri athletic director Mack Rhoades said simply, "Win games."
"That's just human nature," Rhoades said. "People want to be associated with a winning program. They want to be associated with the next great thing."
Four days into the job, Rhoades answered a range of questions Thursday. Describing himself as a "high- energy" person, the 49-year-old Rhoades wants to invigorate the school's fundraising efforts and enhance its presence in Kansas City and St. Louis.
Under Rhoades the past six years, the University of Houston raised nearly $100 million and built $160 million worth of facilities, including a football stadium. One of his stated first priorities will be overseeing plans to build a football complex connecting to Memorial Stadium that will contain office and training space.
"I think we're in the best conference in the country," Rhoades said. "The competition is at an extremely high level. We've got to continue to make sure that we give our student-athletes and coaches the best chance to do that."
He needs to hire a deputy athletics director. Rhoades hoped he could bring assistant Hunter Yurachek with him from Houston, but the Cougars promoted Yurachek on Tuesday to their top spot.
"I had a moment there where I wasn't really happy," Rhoades said. "And I kind of lost perspective. I'm supposed to be happy for a dear friend, and I wasn't. But then I quickly said, 'You know what? Things happen for a reason.'"
Since Missouri announced his hiring March 9, Rhoades continued to work during the day for Houston before transitioning to the Tigers each night. He thanked predecessor Mike Alden for helping him with the move and involving him in discussions surrounding football coach Gary Pinkel's contract extension that was announced Friday.
While Pinkel is entrenched at Missouri after 14 seasons and consecutive divisional titles in the Southeastern Conference, basketball coach Kim Anderson faces more pressure after leading the Tigers to a 9-23 record in his first season. Rhoades promised to go "in the trenches" with Anderson to determine how to turn around the program.
"I never want to point a finger at anybody," Rhoades said, "but I think we all realize that what Kim inherited wasn't a perfect situation. It just wasn't. I think we all can call it what it is, and that's exactly what it was."
Rhoades also expressed interest in restarting the rivalry with Kansas and has already talked to Jayhawks athletic director Sheahon Zenger, but offered no specifics about the chat.