TCU Daily Skiff Friday, April 23, 2004
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Hyman’s approach keeps him out of the limelight — just how he likes it
Low-key athletics director Eric Hyman cautiously stays behind the scenes.

By Braden Howell

The world of college athletics is dominated by high-profile coaches and players who are always in the spotlight of the media.

However, sometimes a central figure remains elusive, only appearing every now and then, and never in any depth. In some cases, it could be the fault of a reporter for never fully reporting an issue, but in the case of athletics director Eric Hyman, it has more to do with skepticism.

Hyman acknowledged he can be skeptical of the media and difficult to interview on occasion, depending on the information people are trying to acquire. Regardless, he does not perceive it as a bad thing.

“I’d call it healthy skepticism,” Hyman said. “I represent the university, not a person or a sport, and because of that, there are some things I just can’t talk about due to university policy.

“People always want to know, for instance, how long a contract is, or what the stipulations in a contract are, and it’s policy not to talk about those things and people take it the wrong way.”

Hyman has been involved in a number of situations with the media since being named athletics director of TCU in 1997 that force him to practice his policy of healthy skepticism. The most recent situation was in April 2003, involving Hyman’s candidacy for the athletics director position at the University of Tennessee and Gary Lundy, a sportswriter for the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Lundy covered the Tennessee athletics director search for the News Sentinel and said Hyman was the only candidate he never talked to.

“I’ve been in this business for about 25 years, and I believe he is the only athletics director to never return a call,” Lundy said. “I put in probably 30 calls to him, and never got a response.”

Hyman said he is usually protective when he is unfamiliar with a person, and that in this particular case there were factual errors in the story, and, having never dealt with Lundy, he was skeptical.

“Until I get to know someone and until I can be confident they will be fair and objective, I am a little guarded,” Hyman said.

Almost a year later, Lundy said he has no ill feelings toward Hyman but said he just doesn’t understand.

“I’m not losing any sleep over it,” Lundy said. “It’s his right to not call me back, but if something was wrong with the story then that’s all the more reason to call and discuss it.”
Although Hyman’s skepticism was something new to Lundy, it is something past colleagues of Hyman are well aware of.

“Eric Hyman is skeptical of the media?” Miami (Ohio) University President James Garland asked rhetorically.

“I am stunned Eric is skeptical of the media; he must have acquired that after he went to TCU,” Garland said, laying on the sarcasm even thicker, before changing his tone to one of seriousness. “Actually, I think most people in administration guard what they say due to the nature of the position and the information people are after.”

Prior to coming to TCU, Hyman was the athletics director at Miami (Ohio), and Garland praised him for his accomplishments at the school.

“He was an outstanding athletics director,” Garland said. “He hired great coaches, promoted gender equity, and built strong relationships with the fans and the student athletes. We were very sorry when TCU lured him away.”

The Horned Frogs, however, couldn’t be happier.

Chancellor Victor Boschini said he admires Hyman’s integrity, and that he truly considers the students as student-athletes versus athletes who happen to be students; an idea that Garland seconded, saying Hyman improved student-athlete graduation rates during his tenure at Miami (Ohio).

“The bottom line is Hyman is a quality individual in a field where I do not often see ‘quality’,” Boschini said in an e-mail. “He truly sees the athletic department as part of the university versus the university as part of the athletic department.”

Hyman said the athletic department wants to continue to help the university accomplish its goals, but he said the specific accomplishments are not as important as the overall well being of the athletic department and the university.

“I don’t look at the micro, I look at the macro,” Hyman said. “People feel they are making an investment and people are proud of the athletic department. All the wins and losses run together over time. It’s developing a relationship with individuals and working together that is the most important.”

One of his relationships that will be getting even more attention in the future is with Boschini. Boschini will be taking over the athletic duties of the provost and after June 1, he said Hyman will be reporting only to his office.

Fortunately for the university, the healthy skepticism Hyman has toward the media does not carry over into his view of the future, although he admitted the future will be different from what people have become accustom to.

“A lot has been accomplished, and we probably won’t continue to make the giant strides we did in the past,” Hyman said. “Our goal will be to continue to have all our programs competing at the highest level.”

Garland, however, is worried about just one thing when it comes to Hyman’s ability to keep TCU athletics performing at the highest level.

“We are a little concerned about his cowardly streak,” Garland said with a hint of sarcasm masked by honesty. “He did refuse to play us in the GMAC Bowl.”
TCU Daily Skiff ©2004
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