TAMPA — Two years ago, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik agreed to finance the University of South Florida’s Sport and Entertainment Management Program, which he said would ensure a brighter future for those industries.
Now, Vinik will have a stake in the future of USF athletics.
Vinik is part of USF’s six-member committee that will help to select the school’s new athletic director. The composition of the committee was confirmed by a public records request.
The committee is chaired by Bill Sutton, a College of Business professor who heads the sport and entertainment management program.
The committee’s most important work could be months away.
On Jan. 16, USF athletic director Doug Woolard, on the job since 2004, announced he would retire when his contract ends on June 30, 2015, coinciding with his 65th birthday.
USF has since hired the Texas-based Eastman & Beaudine executive search firm to identify candidates to become Woolard’s successor. The vetting of candidates is expected to be private since Eastman & Beaudine, retained by USF for $100,000, is not subject to Florida’s public-records laws.
Once the firm has decided on final candidates, they will be presented to the committee and a decision will be made.
In addition to their USF partnership, Sutton and Vinik are both on the board of directors for the Tampa Bay Sports Commission.
Others on the USF AD search advisory committee are Jose Hernandez, Oscar Horton, Joel Momberg and Donna Petersen.
Hernandez is USF’s chief diversity officer and head of the school’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Horton is owner and president of Sun State International Trucks, LLC. He is also a member of the executive committee that coordinates the selection of USF Athletics Hall of Fame inductees.
Momberg is USF’s senior vice president for advancement and chief executive officer of the USF Foundation.
Petersen is dean of USF’s College of Public Health.
No timetable has been established to name Woolard’s successor. Woolard remains on the job, but will help in the transition to a new AD before serving out his time at USF in a variety of “strategic projects,” which have not been specified.