New University of Akron Athletic Director Staying Positive

U Akron president Scott Scarborough (L) with Larry Williams and Zippy
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The University of Akron has been the target of complaints this summer after officials announced hundreds of layoffs to meet budget deficits.

The school also eliminated the baseball team in the process, reportedly causing some applicants for the athletic director job to pull out of the running.

School president Scott Scarborough implied the real reason may be that the applicants already knew who the top choice was.

“It became clear to everyone who our top choice would be.”

Former Marquette Athletic Director Larry Williams knew about the cutbacks at Akron and the squeeze that the governor and state legislature is putting on state universities. But he says he had no reservations about coming to Akron and he supports the decision to cut baseball.

“I support that decision. We’re going to work like crazy for the other 18 sports to make sure they’re as supported as they possibly can be.  And that’s really going to be our entire focus.”

Williams says he had to cut a sport when he was A-D at Portland and said it was the hardest thing to do.

Amateur athletes

The former Cleveland Browns lineman is also a lawyer who has worked for a marketing company that specializes in corporate trademark licensing.

He says doesn’t believe student athletes should be paid but he does the support the new NC-Double-A stipends for athletes called “cost of attendance” payments for supplies and travel.

“I believe in putting those dollars in the kids’ pockets so they can get home to see their parents when they’re ill or to see a friend that may be in a tough time.  I want to be able to give them the opportunity to realize the full cost what it means to be a University of Akron student athlete.”

Daughter Kristin

He had success as an A-D at the University of Portland and Marquette where he was known for setting high academic standards.   At Akron his daughter Kristin will be watching, as she works for the Mid-American Conference.

“After I told her I accepted the job, was offered the job and accepted it she said ‘Oh good, I finally get to be the boss of you.’   So she does compliance of student services on behalf of the MAC.   And my hope is we never get into a situation where we are taken to task by that compliance officer.”

Browns days

Williams’ first order of business is to increase Akron football ticket sales after the Zips ranked last in attendance last year among Division I schools.

The former offensive lineman says he wants to bring back the excitement he saw playing for the 1986 Browns, even if that included the infamous AFC Championship loss to Denver, known as The Drive.

“It was wonderful time.  I also played the next year when we had The Fumble out at Denver. Great teams, great guys.

Urycki:  You have a bad record.

“I don’t know.  Let me put it this way, if we can get our basketball team into the Final 4, if we can get our football team into - I would consider those successes.“

He already has one success.  One day before Williams was introduced as the new athletic director, Akron junior Shawn Barber, competing for Canada,  won a gold medal in the pole vault at the World Championships in Beijing.

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