The third-most recent Northwestern athletic director is currently the president and CEO of the Green Bay Packers. The second-most recent Wildcats AD is now the commissioner of the ACC.
The most recent guy? Well, at least he got to hire a men’s soccer coach during his nine-day tenure atop a Big Ten athletic department — a tenure that came under fire before it even began, a tenure that saw the school president ditching his town and his constituents amid campus protests, and a tenure that came to a merciful, if not predictable, end on Wednesday night.
If there is a playbook on how to mess up a good thing, on how to turn your digs from the penthouse to the outhouse, and on how an institution that fashions itself as an Ivy Leaguer can instead resemble a bottom-feeder, then Northwestern just authored the manual with its botched hiring and subsequent resignation of Mike Polisky.
Northwestern was, or at least should have been, a top-10 AD job in the country.
Look at where the Wildcats’ previous two athletic directors, Mark Murphy (Packers) and Jim Phillips (ACC), ended up after their runs in Evanston. The football program, led by a 16th-year homegrown head coach and buoyed by a new $270 million lakefront facility, is as stable as any in the country. Heck, even the men’s basketball program, dreadful as it has been, can promise brighter days (if not a new leader) because of a recent $110 million renovation to its home arena and a $30 million renovation of its practice facility.