Arizona Football

Pressure’s on: Review of Heeke’s hires at Arizona and Central Michigan

The spotlight is on Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke, who only nine months on the job, has decided along with the school’s administration to fire football coach Rich Rodriguez.

Heeke has the pressure of making a hire that will please the masses following the controversial decision to remove Rodriguez, executed without cause after a former administrative assistant alleged sexual harassment and a hostile work environment under the former coach.

Included in that pressure: hiring somebody who will fill the stands by creating an excitement for the program in the community.

Dave Heeke is in his ninth month as Arizona’s athletic director (University of Arizona graphic)

Heeke’s time is so limited at Arizona that he has made only one hire since replacing Greg Byrne on April 1. He hired a new men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach. He is in the process of finding a permanent replacement for the gymnastics program after Tabitha Yim left to lead Stanford’s program.

Heeke hired Arizona graduate Augie Busch in July to coach the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs after Rick Demont retired.

An Arizona assistant for eight seasons under his father Frank Busch, Augie Busch returned to Tucson after spending four seasons as the head coach at Virginia (2013-17) and the previous two seasons as the head women’s coach at Houston (2011-13).

A review of Heeke’s hiring background at Central Michigan indicates he was active during his tenure there. He made 16 hires from 2006 to 2016 of the 12 sports the Chippewas field.

He was forced to make five firings, including three of the coaches he hired.

Three coaching changes were a result of controversy. A women’s golf coach was later found to lack necessary degree requirements. A volleyball coach was accused of unprofessional behavior toward athletes. A women’s soccer coach was forced out after he allegedly had inappropriate sexual activity with two players.

Heeke hired the women’s golf coach in question. The volleyball and women’s soccer coaches were hired before he became the athletic director there.

Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke meets John “Button” Salmon. (Photo courtesy of Rocky LaRose)

Here’s a brief summary of Heeke’s hires in each sport at Central Michigan (where applicable):

Baseball — Steve Jaksa was hired in 2003, three years before Heeke became the Chippewas’ athletic director.

Men’s Basketball — Heeke hired former Providence and Drake coach Keno Davis in 2012-13, replacing Ernie Ziegler, who was fired after going 75-111 from 2006-07 to 2011-12. Heeke hired Ziegler on June 29, 2006 — his first hire at Central Michigan — after Ziegler was an assistant under Ben Howland at Pitt and UCLA. Ziegler replaced Jay Smith, who resigned after coaching the program for nine years. Davis is 89-84 in his six seasons at Central Michigan. He has yet to make the NCAA tournament. His team is currently 12-2 overall.

Women’s Basketball — Heeke hired Sue Guevara on April 17, 2007 after he did not renew the contact of six-year coach Eileen Kleinfelter. Guevera is 162-138 in 10 seasons with the Chippewas. She has taken Central Michigan to the NCAA tournament once in 2012-13. The Chippewas did not go beyond the first round. They are presently 10-3.

Track and Field/Cross CountryMark Guthrie was hired by Heeke as Central Michigan’s director of the track and field and cross country programs in July 2013. Guthrie replaced Willie Randolph, whose contract was not renewed after he coached four seasons. Randolph was hired in 2009 by Heeke after Jim Knapp retired as men’s coach after 24 years. Karen Lutzke’s contract was not renewed in 2009 after seven years as the women’s coach. Guthrie left Central Michigan in the summer of 2016 to run the Wisconsin-La Crosse program. Under Guthrie, the Chippewas set 17 indoor and outdoor track & field program records, featured 11 All-MAC cross country runners, three MAC Freshman of the Year Award winners in track & field, one Outstanding Field Performer Award at the MAC Outdoor Championships, eight titles at the MAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and two All-America honors in track & field.

Women’s Field Hockey — Heeke hired Molly Pelowski on Feb. 3, 2015. She replaced Cristy Freese, who became the school’s senior associate athletic director after coaching the program for 29 years. Pelowski was 3-49 in less than three seasons. Pelowski was relieved of her duties in October by Heeke’s replacement, Michael Alford.

Embed from Getty Images

Football — John Bonamego was hired by Heeke on Feb. 8, 2015, his fourth hire to lead the football program. Bonamego (21-18 in three seasons with Central Michigan) replaced Dan Enos, who resigned to become the offensive coordinator at Arkansas after five seasons. Enos was hired by Heeke in 2010 after Butch Jones left to Cincinnati. Jones was hired by Heeke in 2007 after Brian Kelly also left to coach the Bearcats. The Chippewas finished 8-5 this season culminating with a 37-14 loss to Wyoming in the Famous Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

Women’s Golf — Cheryl Stacy was lured away from Michigan by Heeke on Dec. 10, 2014. Stacy was hired after previous head coach Tom Beidleman was fired from the position in August 2014 for lacking the necessary degree requirements. Beidleman was hired by Heeke on April 18, 2013. The women’s golf program started in the 2014-15 school year.

Women’s Gymnastics — Jerry Reighard coached before Heeke’s arrival at Central Michigan, since 1984.

Women’s Lacrosse — Heeke hired Sara Tisdale on July 16, 2014, as the school’s first women’s lacrosse coach. Tisdale is 13-20 in her two seasons.

Women’s Soccer — Peter McGahey was hired by Heeke on Jan. 9, 2013. He is 25-22-5 in his four seasons as the head coach. McGahey replaced Neil Stafford who resigned to take the same position at Cincinnati. Stafford replaced Tom Anagnost, who left to Miami in 2011. Anagnost replaced Tony DiTucci, who resigned in 2008 for personal reasons. Central Michigan agreed to pay $450,200 to two women’s soccer players after they accused DiTucci of inappropriate sexual activity.

Softball — Margo Jonker has coached at Central Michigan for 38 years.

Women’s Volleyball — Mike Gawlik was hired on Jan. 16, 2016, Heeke’s last head coaching hire at Central Michigan. Gawlik was hired after Eric Olson’s resignation went into effect Dec. 31, 2015. Olson, hired in 2004, resigned after a two-month investigation regarding an accusation of unprofessional behavior toward athletes. The investigation was terminated upon Olson’s resignation. Central Michigan is 26-31 in Gawlik’s two seasons as head coach.

Wrestling — Tom Borrelli has coached at Central Michigan for 25 years.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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