By Ferd Lewis
Herman Frazier didn't plop his gold and bronze Olympic medals down on the table before the University of Hawai'i search committee, but the effect wasn't much different than if he had.
Between his athletic background, which included gold in the 4x400-meter relay and bronze in the 400 meters at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, and a resume studded with U. S. Olympic Committee posts, it doesn't take a television psychic to divine the new athletic director's attractiveness to UH.
From the moment his application was passed around on June 8, Frazier began to assume what people around UH termed a "uniqueness" among the candidates.
"We had some good candidates but, with his background, he really stood out," said more than one person involved in the search process.
The ties developed and the wide array of duties performed during a quarter-century involvement in the Olympic movement helped separate the 46-year-old Frazier from the pack.
This despite the fact that, except for one finalist, he had the shortest AD tenure, just 20 months. Selection committee members said they gave Frazier high marks for his 23 years at Arizona State, where he held a succession of administrative positions, including senior associate athletic director.
His brief stay at Alabama-Birmingham, from where he is expected to resign today, was more difficult to quantify.
But the addition of the across-the-board Olympic experience and tasks, "gave him a much stronger package," said David McClain, chair of the search committee.
Frazier had credentials as a past president and board member of the Fiesta Bowl, a position that put him in touch with the elite of college football. And extensive Pac-10 associations formed through two decades at ASU stood out.
But, it was the Olympic tie that put the ribbon on this package. With UH President Evan Dobelle's stated interest in carving more of a global role for the university, the Olympic brand assumed an added importance. Especially with the approach of the Beijing Games in 2008.
It is important enough that UH is apparently inclined to not only let Frazier pursue his duties as a USOC vice president but to encourage him to stay involved for the benefits it may bring.
"He knows everybody, I mean everybody," said agent Charlie Wells, a former Olympic sprinter who represents Marion Jones. "He has contacts all over the world."
That carries an unmistakable cachet in Manoa these days. It is in keeping with the hiring trend where Dobelle has gone about filling the lineup of his management team with people who have demonstrated broad experience and, in many cases, a global perspective.
With the choice of AD, time will tell if the choice glitters like Olympic gold.