The next director of athletics at BYU will face the challenges of moving the program into an expanded 16-team league and, most likely, into the 21st century.
The new Cougar athletic director is expected to be chosen in the next few days with an announcement shortly thereafter.More than 50 people applied to be BYU's next A.D., and according to a published report in Wednesday's Provo Daily Herald, four finalist remain in the hunt. They are (in alphabetical order) Houston attorney Rondo Felberg, BYU assistant athletic director Val Hale, Utah Valley State College athletic director Mike Jacobsen and former NFL quarterback turned broadcaster Gifford Nielsen.
None of the four finalists has been an athletic director at the NCAA Division I level. Three are former Cougar athletes, while the other has been involved with BYU athletics since 1982.
Felberg, a successful lawyer in Texas, is a former BYU All-America wrestler and a member of the BYU athletic Hall of Fame.
BYU has a history of hiring from within, which may give Hale an advantage. Hale has been an assistant athletic director for public and media relations for six years. He was promotions and publications coordinator for the athletic department from 1982-87 and has been the assistant director of BYU Development.
Jacobsen is a former Cougar football player. He's the only candidate with experience as an athletic director. Under Jacobsen's direction, UVSC's athletic program has become one of the west's most successful at the junior college level.
Nielsen is the most recognizable name of the bunch to the average BYU fan. He was a star at Provo High before staying home to play on both the Cougar football and basketball teams. He was an All-American quarterback in 1976 when he led the Cougs to the Tangerine Bowl. After a brief NFL career became a sports anchor for KHOU-TV in Houston.
With present athletic director Clayne Jensen set to retire in August, BYU advancement vice president R.J. Snow has headed a nine-member search committee. Among the others on the committee are football coach LaVell Edwards, men's basketball coach Roger Reid and women's administrator/volleyball coach Elaine Michaelis.