Bruce Van De Velde.
Mention this man’s name to any Cyclone fan out there, and you will hear many different groans.
Ugh. Woof. Eek
Just when Iowa State was coming off one of their greatest decades in athletics history, their athletic director (Gene Smith) bolts for Arizona State.
The basketball team had just had a record-breaking 32-5 season, and the football program broke their own record of 9 victories, so you are thinking, “What could possibly go wrong?”
In stepped ISU alum (and sadly post-grad Team Out East alum) Bruce Van De Velde as AD.
Not only was the athletic department in financial despair, but they also fell into a deep depression after it came out that Larry Eustachy had been battling an alcohol problem.
It was Van De Velde who forced Eustachy to resign, and things only went downhill from there.
The coaching search for the basketball program went about as well as hiring a SCUBA instructor in the Sahara desert.
Iowa State first offered the job to then Tennessee-Chattanooga coach Jeff Lebo. And he turned it down.
Then Dana Altman said no. And Steve McClain. And Ray Lopes. Not that any of you know who those last two are, but obviously they were not quality candidates.
To say Van De Velde wasn’t the best fit for hiring a new coach was an understatement. His candor was as slippery as a used car salesman, and he ended up picking the bottom of the barrel with Wayne Morgan.
Morgan never coached again after his ISU tenure. In fact, he ended up selling DirecTV packages, and strung his guitar at local establishments in Ames for awhile. Let that sink in.
Now, while the departments financials strengthened, the only other good thing Van De Velde did was stay out of football coach Dan McCarney’s way.
In 2005, then-President Gregory Geoffroy decided he had enough when he decided “not to extend” Van De Velde’s contract. In the words of Donald Trump, “You’re fired.”
Van De Velde was forced to resign, and amicably he did.
He went on to run the athletics department at Louisiana Tech, and when the 9-3 Bulldogs football team was selected to play in a bowl game, he TURNED IT DOWN.
According to Van De Velde, he was weighing other options, and the Bowl Committee set a deadline, and when they didn’t hear back from La Tech, they went elsewhere.
Needless to say, shortly thereafter, Van De Velde resigned as Athletics Director, and is now flipping hamburgers at a local McDonalds.
No, actually he is a Senior Associate Athletics Director at Wisconsin at the moment.
Truly a forgettable hire for the ISU faithful.