Former Syracuse University athletic director Daryl Gross went on a public relations blitz Wednesday afternoon trying to convince the college sporting world that his new positions with the school–vice president and special assistant to the SU chancellor Kent Syverud–is... well... his doing.
In separate interviews with Syracuse.com's Mike Waters and ESPN CNY's Upon Further Review, the former Director of Athletics went on a "these aren't the droids you're looking for" propaganda frenzy the likes of which SU fans rarely get to see.
Let's start the public relations recap with these snippets from the Waters' piece.
In his first public comments since the announcement, Gross said he decided it was time for him to leave his position as athletic director.
"When I hit February, that was 10 years for me,'' Gross said. "It's been an exhilarating and amazing time. I'm fired up about 10 years. You get to point where you maximize what you can maximize and then you need fresh eyes on things. I felt like this was the time.''
(We can picture your shocked face and using the "no way did he just say that" head nod). It gets better.
On whether his reassignment was a result of the NCAA's sanctions against Syracuse and the university's expected appeal of those sanctions:
"I'd say that's totally inaccurate. Totally inaccurate. You've seen the report. It's too bad that certain things have been interpreted the wrong way. Obviously, I'm not here for big portions of it. I'm proud of the things we did in communicating as a leader should do.
On whether he could have continued as Syracuse's athletic director:
"I don't even go in that direction. That's so speculative. To speculate to me doesn't do any good.
"We (he and Syverud) had some great conversations and we came up with a wonderful plan.''
So, what DOCTOR Gross is trying to sell you is: Twelve days after the NCAA handed down sanctions to his athletic programs, he coincidentally chose to "step down" and take jobs with far less standing, that he is very excited for his new roles as an assistant and adjunct professor and that even if the NCAA sanctions hadn't come down, he'd still be making this exact same move.
Gross wasn't done with his magic #branding wand, as he joined ESPN CNY's Upon Further Review at 2 p.m. ET and said these things:
- He is so grateful for the opportunity to be the vice president at "this great university... We've (Syverud and himself) talked about being together for awhile."
- He called the Falk school one of the rising schools in the country.
- When it comes to these types of decisions (stepping down from director of athletics to his jobs now): "When you're at a great institution property like Syracuse athletics, and you do that job for 10 years that's a long time and there's a shelf life to that. Whether you do good things, or things don't always go great, you have challenges, there's a build up of scars after years, kinda battle scars, but it has been such an amazing, amazing ride and we've accomplished so many fabulous things."
- Gross goes on to mention Syracuse's move to the ACC and how it wasn't a popular announcement, but looking back people understand what the problem was.
- "We have done some many great things here. How much more can you max out without getting some fresh eyes to check it out? I look at it in such a positive way. It is positive for the university, and it is positive for me and my family, and it still takes advantage of some skills that can help advance the institution. A lot of people will probably think there's devastation, I see nothing be positive."
- On what he believes Syracuse University needs to do moving forward: "I think the university is in great shape. I always had a goal that when I handed the baton on, I wanted the program to be in great shape. If you look at our teams and our head coaches, goodness gracious, I am so proud of them, they're outstanding. So, anyone that can came in and grab these coaches and continue on for the quest to stay elite and be even better, it is there for them."
- "The brand is very, very strong. I think we will get through this period gracefully. In a classiest way. It is in great shape to hand it off to help the athletic department to move forward."
- His part in the NCAA report: "I don't want to spend a lot of time on the report. We feel really good about a lot of processes we did take. Everyone had the best interest. Things were discussed as groups, things were discussed in a transparent way within the institution. Sometimes the perception of what has been written is not accurate and that's just part of the deal. The right stuff and the truth with come out. I don't even worry about it. I don't even worry about some of the comments because they don't have enough data to say some of the things they're saying. It is just not accurate. I don't want to get into specific areas, but there's an area where we were not only truly trying to do the right thing, it was even stated in the report that certain meetings were appropriate and the right thing to do. Every day we went to work trying to do the right thing and trying to make the right decisions, and tried to do it with as many people and has many conversations as possible. That's something you should do in life. That's my feeling on it."
- What does he want Syracuse fans to remember about his last 10 years: "That's a beautiful question. I want them to remember that Syracuse University assembled some of the best head coaches across the board, anywhere in the country. We went from average in Olympic sports to one of the elite now, and that our brand was improved... The idea was to make it better than it was and I think we did that. We have seen significant revenue increases, we did some really groundbreaking things with our multi-media contracts. Just really a lot of hard work."
- Gross says, "the branding as New York's College team was very, very crucial for us getting an edge into getting into the ACC."