- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003

American University athletic director Tom George announced his resignation yesterday, citing a desire to return to the private sector.

AU will have to find its third athletic director in three years. George’s predecessor, Dan Radokovich, succeeded Lee McElroy, and he lasted just eight months. American plans to have a new AD by Sept. 1. AU vice president of development Al Checcio said a search is under way, adding he was not surprised by George’s decision.

George, who took the job in October 2001, officially will leave at the end of July.

He came to American after serving as vice president of Octagon, a renowned sports agency and marketing firm that represents athletes like Anna Kournikova, David Robinson and Michael Vick. It is rare to make the transition from marketing to athletic administrator the way George did when he took charge of a program that joined the Patriot League at the start of the 2001-02 school year after years in the Colonial Athletic Association.

“I came into a staff that knew much more about being an athletic director than I did,” said George, who grew up in Montgomery County. “The last two years have been reaffirming. The coaches and student-athletes particularly were reaffirming of many of the values I aspire to.”

George, 48, was brought in to improve the athletic department’s marketability and further build its identity, which struggles to compete in the Washington market with professional teams and elite collegiate programs like Maryland and Georgetown. The resignation of George suggests either an impatience in his timetable of penetrating the market financially or a change in philosophy, maybe toward a less aggressive approach, by AU administrators.

“I miss the autonomy I had in my previous position,” George said. “The planning and approval process here is much more difficult.”

The Eagles have enjoyed success with George. Athletes’ grade-point averages are at an all-time high, and AU won conference titles in eight sports since it joined the Patriot League. The men’s basketball team reached the conference’s title game the past two seasons, losing to Holy Cross both times. The 2002 championship was played before a packed house at Bender Arena.

“Tom did a wonderful job in his tenure,” Checcio said. “He really had a dedication to our student-athletes. And that part will be missed.”

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