By NEIL PIERSON
When Dr. Darren Hamilton came to Eastern Washington University last August, he proclaimed loud and clear that the athletics department was “going to be extraordinarily successful.”
After less than seven months on the job, however, Hamilton won't be the one to resurrect the Eagles. The university announced his dismissal as athletics director last Thursday, citing a need to change directions.
In a March 16 Spokesman-Review report, Hamilton said the decision to terminate his contract was made after discussions with EWU president Rodolfo Arévalo.
“It just wasn't a good fit,” Hamilton said. “I just thought it was best to separate. I have high expectations, and I'm not so sure that's the direction that Eastern's ready to go right now.”
Arévalo released a statement last Friday through the department of university relations, but didn't field questions about Hamilton's dismissal.
“After long discussions with our athletic director this week, we have agreed to terminate his contract and make a change in that position,” Arévalo said in the statement. “I will very soon name an interim athletic director and begin a search for a new AD as soon as possible.”
Attempts to reach Hamilton and his wife, Sherry, an employee with EWU's physical education, health and recreation department, were unsuccessful. Associate ADs Mike Allen and Pam Parks did not return phone messages before press time.
The Spokesman-Review reported that Allen and Parks, as well as a group of coaches, met with Arévalo to discuss concerns relating to Hamilton's management and communication skills. It also mentioned two separate complaints alleging Hamilton made improper advances towards two female colleagues, though EWU media relations specialist Dave Meany said last Friday those were unrelated to Hamilton's dismissal.
“It does not have anything to do with the sexual harassment allegations,” Meany said. “Absolutely not.”
When asked about possible personality conflicts with Arévalo or athletics department staff, Meany didn't go into much detail.
“As far as any dynamics in the athletic department, I can't speculate,” he said. “It was probably best to part ways and seek a new direction.”
Hamilton was officially hired at Eastern on Aug. 1, 2006, after a one-year stint as AD at Chicago State University, filling a year-long void at the position following the resignation of Scott Barnes in 2005. He was chosen from a field of three finalists, beating out college sports adviser and attorney Michael McNeely and athletics consultant Kelly Higgins. Hamilton also served in various positions at Cheyney State University, Bowling Green University and Duke University.
Hamilton said a “termination for convenience” clause in his contract was invoked, and he'll receive nine months of his $110,000 annual salary.
Meany said the university expected to name an interim AD this week.
“That interim person will preside over the department until Eastern can complete a search for a permanent replacement,” Meany said.
Neil Pierson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org