College: Arizona hires Mississippi St AD Greg Byrne
TUCSON, Ariz. — Mississippi State athletic director Greg Byrne will take the same position at Arizona.
Byrne, who graduated from Arizona State and previously worked at Pac-10 schools Oregon and Oregon State, replaces Jim Livengood, who left in December to become the AD at UNLV.
“I’m absolutely over the top with excitement about the hire. ... This is going to be a tremendous hire for the U of A,” university president Robert Shelton said Monday, adding that he and Byrne finalized a deal last week.
Byrne, who has been the AD at Mississippi State since February 2008, will start at Arizona on May 1. He will be introduced at a press conference Wednesday.
Byrne will be paid a base salary of $390,000 and his contract, which must still be approved by the Arizona Board of Regents, includes incentives for academic and athletic achievement.
Byrne’s tenure at Mississippi State included the hiring of Florida assistant Dan Mullen as football coach, volleyball coach Jenny Hazelwood and hiring baseball coach John Cohen away from Kentucky where he was the Southeastern Conference coach of the year in 2006.
“There wasn’t any single factor that led me to make Greg the top man,” Shelton said. “It was the whole package ... his familiarity with this region, with the Pac-10, his AD experience, his fundraising ability, his commitment to the student athlete, his youth and the energy he brings to it.”
Shelton said he started with a list of about two dozen “folks of interest” and Byrne was the only person to get a second interview.
“While I am excited about a new opportunity, I am heartbroken to be leaving a lot of friends,” Byrne said in a statement released by Mississippi State. “Our job here is not done, but the pieces are in place to bring success to Mississippi State athletics.”
Byrne was hired as an assistant AD at Mississippi State in June 2006 from Kentucky, where he held a similar position. He later succeeded Larry Templeton, who was forced out after 20 years by school president Robert “Doc” Foglesong.
His father, Bill Byrne, is athletic director at Texas A&M and was also AD at Oregon from 1984-1992.
Byrne said he did not pursue the Arizona job.
“There is little question that this decision is a good one for my family,” Byrne said. “It places us back in a part of the country with which we are familiar, one that returns us near family and lifelong friends. But this decision was more than just family. My new position offers many of the same challenges we faced here at Mississippi State. We will attack those challenges in the same way we did here.”
Mississippi State president Mark Keenum said he offered Byrne a new financial package but was turned down.
“I cannot say enough about what Greg has meant to our athletic program,” Keenum said. “I began working with Greg even before assuming the presidency at MSU, during the search for a new football coach, and our relationship has always been a close one. The strong foundation he laid has created tremendous momentum and excitement and given MSU fans much to cheer about, with the promise of greater things on the horizon.”
Byrne worked in the athletic department at Oregon from 1995-98 and was an assistant AD at Oregon State from 1998-2002. He then moved on to Kentucky.