Officials silent on reasons for quick athletic departures
University officials are offering little comment about the abrupt departure of long-time athletic director Keri Gaither and assistant men's basketball coach Derek Thomas.
But an effort to quickly find Gaither's successor is being launched this week with the formation of a search committee.
Gaither and Thomas resigned Oct. 31 within two hours of one another to "pursue other interests," according to press releases issued by UDM.
But beyond the official statements, university officials have been unwilling to speak about the matter.
Prior to Friday's post-game press conference with men's head coach Ray McCallum, reporters were told that questions would not be allowed about off-court issues.
The resignations, which were effective immediately, came eight months after the Titans made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999. The team won the Horizon League Tournament and played Kansas in the first round, losing to the Jayhawks.
Named AD in 2007, Gaither had been with the athletics department for 25 years, expanding the university's Division I sports offerings from 16 to 19 teams. She oversaw the addition of men's and women's lacrosse and men's tennis, as well as major facility renovations.
"The university appreciates Keri's many contributions to the athletics program at UDM, and we wish her well in her future endeavors,'' said President Antoine M. Garibaldi.
The university press release credited her with playing a major role in development of the "$1.6 million all-purpose synthetic turf field and track, the tennis pavilion complex, the new basketball court dedicated to Dick Vitale and the new grass field to accommodate the lacrosse and soccer teams."
Thomas, one of coach McCallum's three assistants, arrived at UDM in June 2008.
Hoop Scoop, a recruiting service, ranked him as one of the top five assistant coaches nationally at the mid-to-low Division I level.
Thomas' resignation leaves McCallum with two full-time assistants, Jay Smith and Carlos Briggs. However, Briggs was not on the sidelines Friday night when the Titans defeated Northern Michigan 88-53, and has not been seen much on campus since the resignations occurred.
Jason Horn, associate athletic director for external affairs, is filling in as interim athletic director while the university begins its search for a full-time replacement.
Horn has 20 years experience in marketing, promotions, ticketing and sales, and has held positions with the University of Miami, Palace Sports and Entertainment, the NBA Development League, Bowling Green State University, University of Central Florida and the 1996 and 2002 Olympic Games, according to a UDM press release.
A Detroit native, Horn came to UDM from Northwestern State in Louisiana, where he was assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions.
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