July 13, 2016
COLUMBIA, Mo. --- You can look at this one of two ways
* Mack Rhoades didn't last very long as Athletic Director at the University of Missouri.
* But while he was only there a short time, Rhoades really made a mess.
Thanks for the memories.
After Mike Alden directed Mizzou athletics for 17 years, Rhoades is leaving after just 14 months to accept the same position at Baylor, it was announced Wednesday afternoon.
Perhaps it was only fitting ... Mack the Knife has cut and run.
Or as some have suggested, hit the Rhoades, Mack.
"While my family is excited to start this new chapter in our lives," Rhoades said in a statement, "we do so with great appreciation for our time at Mizzou. We've met many wonderful people and made lasting friendships."
Can he really talk about lasting relationships?
"I believe the athletic department has a very bright future."
Uh-huh. In these days of being hammered with dizzying political ads, the propaganda doesn't stop with Democrats and Republicans.
Wren Baker has been named interim AD, giving the Mizzou the big-time interim trifecta --- all in a span of eight months. Interim AD, interim president, interim chancellor.
Rhoades is linked directly to the latter two, as well, as both Tim Wolfe (president) and R. Bowen Loftin (chancellor) stepped down during the debacle last fall that involved the football team.
In case your mind blocks out such bad memories, the racially-charged protests of Concerned Student 1950 led to a hunger strike by a student that led to a strike by the football team.
Certainly, some of these matters were beyond Rhoades' control. But at the same time, you can certainly question his handling of the situation. And there's always this --- the buck must stop somewhere.
Other "highlights" during Rhoades' reign included:
* The retirement of Gary Pinkel.
* The one-year self-imposed postseason ban and loss of scholarships by the men's basketball team, which continues to hit new rock-bottoms.
* This spring's poorly handled situation of the Missouri softball team and its head coach, Ehren Earleywine, which may have been the last straw for Rhoades.
But without question, the foundation for this mess was what happened last fall. What happened is a reality, but the lingering perception about Mizzou may be even more damning.
* Enrollment for the school has taken a huge hit, an estimated decline of 25 percent for incoming freshman and an overall drop of a staggering $30 million in tuition dollars.
* Budget cuts will be at least 5 percent, and even the Missouri legislature has tightened the monetary noose to show it's disappointment for how things are being handled.
* As of early May, sales of football season tickets were down 25 percent from the same time last year.
Here's what Rhoades concluded when meeting with the media to "celebrate" his one-year anniversary in late April.
"I told our staff: 'We have two choices," Rhoades said. "'We're either going to get worse from it or better from it.'
"'And worse is not an option.'"
Obviously, skipping town was.
You can't accuse Rhoades of not being able to handle the heat entirely for this decision, because Baylor certainly has its own dumpster fire. It's just a different kind of fire. Some have also reported Rhoades has shown interest in other jobs the last 2-3 months, but few saw this coming. Not now, at least.
Here's what Rhoades had to say after leaving the University of Houston to take the job at Mizzou on March 10, 2015.
"It was truly going to take something special for us to leave (Houston)," he said. "We're moving here with the intent of this being our last job.
"This is a destination place."
Just like politicians and most people in life, watch what they do, not what they say.
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Mack Rhoades served as Missouri's athletic director for only 14 months.
Mack the Knife cuts and runs:
AD Rhoades leaving Missouri