It would make perfect sense to think Arizona Wildcats basketball coach Sean Miller had a stamp of approval before the university hired a new athletic director.
Miller is the face of the athletic department, the men’s basketball team being UA’s most visible program, and his happiness with a new boss — at least his comfort level, if nothing else — is a mighty important factor.
Arizona announced Saturday that Dave Heeke would replace Greg Byrne, who left for Alabama. Heeke had been the athletic director at Central Michigan for more than 11 years, and had been at Oregon for the previous 18.
Miller said he met Heeke “just briefly,” but that was enough for a good first impression.
“Very, very excited,” Miller said Monday.
“I think we’re all very excited to have him. His experience, both as an athletic director in the Mid-American Conference at Central Michigan for a decade … and additionally, he was at Oregon for 18 years and learned the Pac-10 at that time, the West Coast. I think the blend of both of those, we’re excited to have him and his family here.
“I had a chance to meet him and he’s a really, really good guy. He reminds me in some ways of Greg Byrne … some of the characteristics that I think we all really liked about Greg, Dave has those as well.”
“One is, he’s a really good person, easy to talk to, very down to earth, very genuine. I think he will fit in very, very well here. He’s coming at a really crucial time for our program, for the athletic department, and I think we’ll be in really good hands.”
Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez has a working knowledge of Heeke, who hired one of RichRod’s assistants at West Virginia, Butch Jones, to be CMU’s head coach in 2007. Jones went 27-13 in three seasons before moving on to Cincinnati and then Tennessee.
“Very well respected,” Rodriguez said of Heeke. ” We’re happy he’s going to be a Wildcat.”
Rich Rodriguez on new Arizona AD Dave Heeke after meeting with him last week … Rodriguez said he has a list of needs and wants ready to go pic.twitter.com/53b7vmRmDx