The Daily Nole

What Stan Wilcox Leaving Means for FSU

FSU athletics

Shocking news broke on Monday afternoon when a report came out that Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox was leaving the university for the NCAA. Wilcox will serve as the vice president for regulatory affairs, replacing Oliver Luck, who left to become commissioner of the XFL.

It is accurate to say that very few people were aware of the move before it happened. Usually there’s rumblings and rumors before it occurs, but this development was fairly out of the blue. Wilcox was well-liked among the boosters and brought considerable success to FSU. He leaves Tallahassee after three national championships and more than 20 ACC titles.

His sudden departure brings an uncertainty that Florida State has not felt in a long time. Many are left wondering what will happen with facilities plans, coaching changes, and the job itself.

Florida State’s athletic director position is unique among Power 5 programs — mainly because the funding for sports teams comes from the Seminole Boosters group, which is not controlled by the AD. This adds a layer of separation which ensures more stability for the department, but it also makes it difficult to enact sweeping changes and fund certain ventures. Very few programs are structured this way, making it a somewhat unattractive job for many candidates.

That’s not to say FSU will be extremely limited in its search. It is still a premier program in a very successful conference, so there will undoubtedly be some high-profile names linked to the position. But it might take a while to find the right fit, especially if FSU decides to go external, although some rumblings have indicated that FSU is prepared to hire an interim AD internally. The latter would make the process go much smoother and quicker.

Whoever steps up to the plate full-time will be forced to deal with pressing changes occurring over the next few years. Topics like building a new football facility, hiring a new baseball coach, the ACC Network, and upgrades to Dick Howser Stadium are all on the menu.

Program-specific questions will also need answering.

FSU basketball holds an undesirable position of having a decent program in an absolutely stacked conference. How the next AD wants to move forward is unknown, and Leonard Hamilton being 70 years old might mean that a head coaching change could come quicker than previously thought.

Wilcox was a huge supporter of Hamilton and the basketball program, even giving him a contract extension back in early 2016 when it looked like Hamilton was struggling to capitalize on an influx of talent. That decision paid off and thanks to Wilcox’s backing, FSU has recently upgraded both the men’s and women’s facilities.

Despite some concerns, it’s unlikely that a change in the AD will significantly affect head football coach Willie Taggart’s immediate expectations at FSU. He’s a brand new coach at a university that thrives off the football program. He will get time to implement his system.

Thankfully Wilcox left the next AD with a number of consistent programs. The soccer, softball, track and field, and tennis teams have all been noted for their recent success. All of these programs also have decent to great facilities, so it is very unlikely that there will be public spats pertaining to upgrades any time soon.

The main concern will be the hiring of a new baseball head coach and his staff.

Wilcox’s sudden decision does raise questions about his choice earlier in the summer to retain Mike Martin Sr. for one more year. All indications inside the athletic department were that Martin would not be returning for 2018. Why was there a sudden reversal in course? Could it be that Wilcox understood he would not remain in Tallahassee much longer? It’s all speculation, but given what we were told at the time, it’s worth asking.

There’s no easy way to put it: Wilcox leaving gives FSU a hard puzzle to figure out. We are now less than a month until fall sports start up for the 2018 season, and FSU has no athletic director. It’s not catastrophic, but it is a difficult situation to deal with for any athletic program. Wilcox will start his new job at the beginning of next fiscal year, which is Oct. 1.

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