Mustangs fans could have to get used to a former UC Santa Barbara Gaucho running Cal Poly’s athletic department.
They might also welcome a new athletic director from the school most famous for bringing Larry Bird into our consciousness.
Or Cal Poly could snatch one of the key cogs in San Diego State’s athletic department before the Mustangs and Aztecs meet on the football field once again next season.
Starting today, three finalists will be visiting campus to interview for the vacant Cal Poly athletic director job in the following weeks. Each will be made available to the public during an open forum detailed in full interview schedules released by the university Tuesday.
Ron Prettyman — the athletic director at Bird’s alma mater, Indiana State — will begin the process with a campus tour today and will be present to answer questions in an open forum Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to noon.
Portland State athletic director Torre Chisholm, a 1997 UC Santa Barbara graduate, will follow next week, and San Diego State senior associate athletic director Don Oberhelman will arrive for interviews March 7.
Chisholm’s open forum will be from 11:30 to noon in Mott Gym on March 1, and Oberhelman’s is scheduled at the same time for March 8 at the Performing Arts Center.
“Having gone through the process before, interviewing for an A.D. job can be a grueling activity,” said Chisholm, who joined Portland State in 2007 after lengthy stints at UC Irvine and his alma mater. “It’s also very rewarding. People that come to all the sessions are people that care about the program, and they’re really passionate about it, and as a candidate, that makes you passionate about it as well.”
Chisholm isn’t just any former Gaucho. The former Anteaters and UC Santa Barbara development and marketing specialist is credited with founding the tortilla-throwing student support group known as the Gaucho Locos while working at UC Santa Barbara.
Undoubtedly of more importance to the hiring committee and new president Jeffrey D. Armstrong: Chisholm’s success improving the Vikings’ budget and facilities.
In a bio released by Cal Poly, Portland State boasts increased department budget and revenues of 35 percent and increased scholarship support of 40 percent under Chisholm, who also secured external funding for team video and student-athlete lounges and locker room renovations.
At UC Irvine, where he worked from 2000 to 2007, Chisholm increased fundraising by 200 percent and sponsorships by 150 percent, according to the bio, helping secure major gifts for the construction of a sports medicine center.
Working at UC Santa Barbara from 1991 to 2000, he witnessed Cal Poly’s entrance to the Big West Conference and its growing rivalry with the Gauchos.
“Cal Poly is a fantastic institution,” Chisholm said. “I was fortunate to live in the Central Coast area for probably longer than anywhere I’ve lived in my life and have a real appreciation for the area and the people in the area. That’s probably one of the reasons I initially looked at the Cal Poly opportunity.”
Oberhelman spent a few months in late 2009 and early 2010 as the interim athletic director at San Diego State after the Aztecs’ previous A.D. became embroiled in a scandal surrounding the improper use of state funds.
Helping the department bounce back, Oberhelman’s role as the chief operating officer charges him with daily operation, planning, implementation, administration and direct supervision of the department, including fundraising, according to his bio.
“I am impressed with Cal Poly,” said Oberhelman, “and am honored to be considered for the position of director of athletics. I look forward to meeting with the students, faculty, coaches and staff in two weeks.”
Oberhelman has more experience at distinguished athletic schools than the other two candidates.
Prior to his appointment at San Diego State in 2007, the 1993 Kansas State alumnus was a senior associate athletic director at Southern Mississippi and has worked at Texas A&M and Florida State.
News of Prettyman’s candidacy broke over the weekend.
His résumé highlights include overseeing the creation of Indiana State’s athletics website, construction of a weight training facility, the addition of a $1.5 million video board in the basketball arena, construction of a baseball stadium and renovation of the football stadium for the Sycamores.