Lucas at Large: Deputy post has prepared Eichorst to be sheriff at Miami

UW athletic director Barry Alvarez had the ideal parting gift for his deputy.

"Be yourself,'' Alvarez told Shawn Eichorst. "You're ready. You can do it.''

That endorsement meant everything to the 44-year-old Eichorst, who has left the Badgers to become the new athletic director of the University of Miami Hurricanes.

"There were a few people who I trust and respect,'' Eichorst said, "and have been mentors of mine who suggested that it would be a good fit and the timing was right.''

One of those mentors was South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier, with whom Eichorst had a strong working relationship during his years as a senior associate athletic director in Columbia.

Obviously another mentor was Alvarez, the former Badger football coach who, of course, has been a long-time favorite of Miami president Donna Shalala, the former UW chancellor.

Eichorst joins Jamie Pollard, another former Alvarez deputy, who has moved on to run his own athletic department. Pollard is the AD at Iowa State. What has Eichorst taken from Alvarez?

"One of the things I've learned from Barry,'' Eichorst said, "is doing a real good job hiring good people who are in it for the right reasons and then allowing them the room to do their job.

"You watch Barry and he's got that natural ability to lead. He's been a good role model that way.  He also has that 'Don't Flinch' mentality, and when you're around him, it rubs off a little bit.

"That doesn't mean you're not caring about every situation that comes across your desk, but you're trying to put it in proper perspective and manage that way instead of managing under fire.''

It's about having a plan, Eichorst said, echoing Alvarez again.

"I've felt like I've been ready over the last four to five years,'' he said of timetable on becoming a BCS athletic director. "But I've always paid attention to the job that I've had and worked hard at that.''

Do that, Eichorst constantly reminded himself, and everything else would take care of itself.

"It's kind of a bittersweet deal,'' Eichorst said of leaving the UW athletic department. "When you see people who are truly happy for other people's success, you know it's a special place.''

Asked if he would be interested in talking to Alvarez about arranging a home-and-home football series between the Badgers and the Hurricanes, Eichorst said, "Absolutely. I'd love to do that.''
ON WISCONSIN