TAMPA - If Doug Woolard's performance as South Florida athletic director is a fraction as good as his rave reviews, then USF has hired the AD of the century.
Numerous big names in college athletics weighed in Wednesday on USF's new acquisition. Arizona AD Jim Livengood, who brought Woolard from the high school to college ranks at Washington State in 1988, gushed about his former protege.
"I know what he's all about, and I couldn't talk in any more glowing terms about someone than I do Doug," Livengood said. "He's one of those rare people that's too good to be true. And I don't just talk this way about everybody.
"He's a tremendous people person and extremely smart. His enthusiasm, his ideas - he's bright and articulate. Nobody I know is as good to people every day."
Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese was among the many USF president Judy Genshaft consulted before she chose Woolard over the other finalist, Virginia senior associate AD Jon Oliver. The Bulls joins the Big East in 2005.
"I don't know Doug personally, but I know five or six people who I have unbelievable respect for who have had nothing but the best things to say," Tranghese said. "Our conference is really looking forward to working with him."
Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive, the former commissioner of Conference USA, worked with Woolard from the inception of C-USA.
"Doug helped us work through some very difficult and complex issues," Slive said. "There were many cases where I had sensitive issues that had to be resolved and called on Doug to chair groups and help us through, which he invariably did."
Woolard's predecessor, Lee Roy Selmon, was absent Wednesday from the announcement because of a bank board meeting. However, he and Woolard dined at Selmon's restaurant Wednesday night, and Selmon issued a statement.
"I have enjoyed a good relationship with him in Conference USA," said Selmon, who was AD for nearly three years before resigning in February to take a newly created athletics fundraising position. "He is an outstanding person, and he will lead with great integrity and character."
USF baseball coach Eddie Cardieri and men's soccer coach George Kiefer said they were impressed by Woolard when he came to campus to interview, and Michael Rierson, vice president for advancement and interim AD, said Woolard's leadership skills are exceptional.
"He has what I refer to as a "leadership personality,"' Rierson said. "He understands how to identify the critical issues and how to resolve them."
Football coach Jim Leavitt had an appendectomy Saturday and was not at Wednesday's announcement. He said he has heard favorable things about Woolard, whose previous school does not have a football program but who worked with the football team as an associate AD at Washington State in the early 1990s.
"I've met Doug before at different C-USA meetings, but I don't really know him," Leavitt said. "He did an outstanding job at Saint Louis, and I'm sure he'll do a great job here. He's already been an AD and been very successful at a very good university."DOUG WOOLARD
AGE: 54 (Feb.10, 1950).
MOST RECENT POSITION: AD, Saint Louis.
RELATED EXPERIENCE: Associate AD, Washington State, 1988-94; AD, Carbondale (Ill.) Community High, 1978-88; basketball coach, Carbondale, 1975-78; teacher/coach, Murphysboro (Ill.) High, 1973-75.
EDUCATION: Carbondale, 1968; B.S. in education, Southern Illinois, 1973; graduate work in secondary education, SIU, 1985.