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Where will USF turn for new athletic director?

Florida Football Insiders



Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Friday afternoon devastating news for USF Athletics, that AD Mark Harlan was abruptly leaving for a Pac 12 job just weeks after agreeing to an extension, has now given way to: “what’s next?”

And, obviously, that is more like: “who’s next?” to run the Bulls athletic department.

Here’s a quick list of likely candidates:

Derrick Brooks: The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and NFL Hall of Famer (above) was first Florida State legendary linebacker and has remained a Tampa resident since his playing career ended in 2008. He’s previously been the general manager and part owner of the now defunct Tampa Bay Storm Arena Football League team. He’s also been on the Florida State Board of Directors and therefore, is familiar with University important decisions at the highest levels.

Brooks would also be following the path of the late Buccaneer legend and former USF AD, Lee Roy Selmon. Selmon, who after working as an assistant in the athletic department with fundraising for the start of football, eventually took over running of the department from 2001-04.

With Bulls in desperate need of someone, who can not only administrate, but more importantly, raise significant money. Brooks fits that profile.

Rob Higgins: A former USF student and basketball manager, Higgins has been the ultra successful executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission since 2004. That organization has repeatedly been involved in bringing big events like the Superbowl, the College Football Playoff Championship Games, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four and so on, to the area.

Higgins, while not having direct experience in administrating college athletics, would be a forward thinking choice and has endless devotion to the Bulls.

Mark Dominik: The former Buccaneers GM from 2009-13 certainly has a background in administration and is still in the Tampa area. Dominik worked for the NFL team for nearly 20 years in the scouting and personnel departments. After being fired with head coach Greg Schiano, Dominik landed an ESPN NFL studio tv job.

However, he was part of the network’s massive talent layoff in May of 2017. He has been a co-host/analyst on Sirius/XM radio’s NFL channel over the last couple years, too.

Dominik doesn’t have specific experience working in or running a college athletic department, and the fundraising part would be something new, and a detriment to his chances, too.

Finally another interesting name,

Lelo Prado: Currently a marketing executive with Republic Bank in Tampa, Prado is Tampa baseball legend. He won a Division II National Championship, as a coach with the University of Tampa and was later the Bulls baseball coach for seven seasons before taking an assistant job in the athletic department dealing with external affairs and fundraising. He held that job for three years before leaving last year.

It’s unknown how much interest Prado would have in coming back to run the department, but he’s certainly familiar with everything at USF, including donor relationships, etc.

Obviously, USF could also look outside the area in a nationwide search.

That landed them Mark Harlan from his UCLA assistant role in 2014.

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