Sports 56 WHBlog Q

May 29, 2009

The case for R.C.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg Gaston @ 4:21 pm

University of Memphis Athletics Director R.C. Johnson has been in Memphis for about as long as I have, 14 years. We have a very good relationship. We also have mutual respect for one another. It doesn’t make me happy when I say that a termination may be in order. Let me emphasize….”may”.
I am far from the judge and jury but I can certainly layout the pros and cons of his tenure at the U of M. Does the good outweigh the bad?
Johnson has been able to bring in donations like nobody before him, and likely nobody that will follow him down the pike. Yes, plenty of the success in fundraising is due in part to Calipari and the Basketball Bonanza, but Johnson was the one who brought him to Memphis. He is charming, well liked, and able to get most of the Memphis bigwigs to open up their wallets and purses.
Johnson has served on several National committees and helped push the Memphis brand forward. The success of the athletic program under his tenure, is probably the best run in the history of the school.
His relationship with Memphis city and county officials is strong. He has the support of both Mayors and other area political figures.
Johnson is usually very accessible to the media and willing to chat about the state of tiger athletics.
He also did everything he could to keep Calipari, and in fact, may have kept him from going to N.C. State several years ago. Now I know people today may think that’s a bad thing, but let’s remember how worried fans were when losing Calipari became a strong possibility.
Now let’s look at the other side of the ledger. Johnson’s dismissal of former hoop coach Larry Finch is still considered one of the ugly moments in Memphis sports history. His choice to replace the “Legend” withTic Price, was a disaster. Price became one of the most infamous figures in Memphis history.
Memphis unsuccessfully attempted to get into the Big East Conference although in my opinion I don’t think there was much they could have done to beat out the schools that were eventually chosen.
Johnson turned a deaf ear to the cry’s for an on campus Football Stadium although the timing may not have been right.
And of course, the NCAA investigation into alleged violations in the Men’s Hoop and Women’s Golf Basketball programs.
The major beef from fans was why was the NCAA notice of allegations not made public? And why was new Head Coach Josh Pastner not apprised of the situation, or at least, made sure he clearly understood the serious implications, before he signed on the dotted line?
This is not everything, but it highlights the ups and downs of R.C.’S tenure at Memphis.
I would now love to hear your opinion.


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