Wednesday, June 4th, 1997

It's Official: the Hokies are now Braine-Dead

As expected, the official announcement was made in Atlanta Tuesday - Dave Braine is now the new Athletic Director at Georgia Tech. He spoke of the challenges he'll face at Georgia Tech, but I've got to think that in this case, it wasn't the "challenges" at Georgia Tech that drew him away from Virginia Tech, where he had been for almost ten years. Number one, it was the money (Georgia Tech offered him $250,000 a year for ten years), and number two, it was the stable conference membership that Georgia Tech offers.

Think about it: for almost ten years now, part of Dave Braine's job has been begging for someone to let Virginia Tech into an all-sports conference. It was a worrisome, bothersome, sometimes humiliating task, and it was always there. Now, with this new job, that task has been taken away, and at the same time, his pay has been doubled. Sweet deal. Add into that his ties to Georgia Tech - he was a football coach there earlier in his career - and the attractions that Atlanta offers, and you can't blame the guy for a second.

To Dave Braine, we say thanks for a job well done. You left us a lot better off than we were when you got here, and that's what counts.

In allowing Braine to escape to Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech president Paul Torgersen said, ''We could not match that (GT's offer of $250k a year), nor would we want to do so. I suspect we could find some alumni that would one way or another come up with that funding. But it throws our other salary structures out of balance. I'm not sure that a salary of a quarter of a million dollars wouldn't say that athletics is a lot more important than I'd like to say.''

Good point, and if you read between the lines, he's saying, "I'd have a lot of explaining to do to the Board of Visitors and all of our academic staff and faculty."

I personally would have liked for Braine to stay, but I can appreciate the position that Torgersen is in. He's not the president of the Virginia Tech Athletic Department, he's the president of Virginia Tech. He's got more on his mind than (gulp - dare I say it?) just athletics. I don't, but he obviously does.

It made me a little ill to see a smiling Dave Braine don a Georgia Tech hat during the press conference Tuesday, but only for a minute. It's a nice step up for him, particularly financially, and I don't begrudge him that. And now, for Virginia Tech and Hokie fans everywhere, it's time to put Dave Braine in the past and move on. We've got a big task ahead of us: namely, finding the next Dave Braine, a top-notch AD that we can afford. It's not an easy task, but it can be done.

Heck, we did it ten years ago. We can do it again.

Braine will work until July 1 for Virginia Tech, at which time senior associate athletic director Sharon McCloskey will take over as interim AD. Torgersen is very comfortable with that situation, and he reports that Tech will take their time finding a replacement for Braine.

The newspapers are reporting that if Tech goes outside for their new AD, the likely candidates are Keener Fry, a former football player at Tech who is now the AD at East Tennessee State, and Wyoming AD Lee Moon. He succeeded Braine at Marshall University when Braine moved to Tech (proving once again that it's not what you know, it's who you know. Moon knows Braine, so - ta da! - he's a candidate for a job thousands of miles away from his current job). If Tech decides to stay in-house for their next AD, it's apparently a one-horse race between Sharon McCloskey and nobody else.

I'll have few thoughts soon on what Tech should think about when shopping for their next athletic director. I won't stun you with my brilliance or anything like that, because the landscape of Tech athletics isn't terribly complicated. I'll post it in the Special Features section as a rare "My Opinion" piece - remember those? Till then, don't anybody go committing suicide or anything over this. This train will move on. Count on it.


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