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UTEP’s Director of Athletics Search Filled with Mystery

Steve Kaplowitz.
Steve Kaplowitz.

Since Bob Stull announced his retirement exactly three weeks ago today as UTEP’s Director of Athletics, the rumor mill has been filled with names for his potential replacement. However, I have heard so many different scenarios from people “close to the program” over the last few weeks that it is impossible to gauge who has the best chance.

As you might expect, all four potential candidates who once worked for Bob Stull at UTEP have been mentioned. Brian Wickstrom (Incarnate Word), Lisa Campos (Northern Arizona), Jeramiah Dickey (Baylor), and Stephanie Rempe (Texas A&M) have all been linked to the job. However, all four candidates have good current jobs as either Director of Athletics (Wickstrom and Campos) or Deputy Director of Athletics positions (Dickey and Rempe), and they will not publicly express any interest in the opening. In addition, sources out of UTEP have indicated that Stull is pushing for Chris Park to be named his replacement. Park is currently a Senior Associate Athletic Director at UTEP in charge of Development and External Operations. One other name that has surfaced over the last few weeks is Greg Foster. The former Miner basketball player and graduate assistant coach is currently working for the Milwaukee Bucks as an assistant coach.

The other scenario is that UTEP hires a Director of Athletics with no connection to the school or to Stull. The position was finally posted online earlier this week and Dr. Diana Natalicio is heading up the search committee. The school has not released any information on who else will make up the hiring committee, but the online posting does indicate that application queries or nominations should be sent to Executive Vice President Richard Adauto.

Dr. Natalicio has given no indication as to what she wants most from the position. If fund raising is her top priority, Wickstrom could be the top choice. According to his bio, he has been personally responsible for securing more than $91 million in commitments. His wife, Celina Avila is also an Sun City native, having spent nearly 10 years as a TV anchor and reporter in the El Paso market. However, he recently took the same job at Incarnate Word in San Antonio, so there is no indication that he is ready to leave a position he just started to pursue the UTEP opening.

The only other El Paso native is Dickey, however some believe that his first Director of Athletics position will be at a Division 1 school larger than UTEP, perhaps even a Power 5 program. Rempe could be earning a larger salary at Texas A&M than Stull, and like Wickstrom, she recently took her new position in College Station. Campos could emerge as a serious candidate if UTEP wants to hire a female leader with El Paso ties.

For now, it is still very much a guessing game.

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