Donald C. Fry

Donald C. Fry (Kim Hairston / BALTIMORE SUN / January 11, 2011)

Donald C. Fry, head of the group leading the search for Towson's next athletic director, said Thursday he hopes to have a new leader for the Tigers in place by the middle of August.

"We're going through resumes now, so we're not in the final interview stages or anything like that," he said. "But our hope is to identify a person and have them transition into the role pretty quickly. In this field, quick movement is not that unusual and is considered part of the industry."

Fry, the president of CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, would like to have a new athletic director in place for the start of the fall season but acknowledged the decision could be delayed for any number of reasons.

Meanwhile, school officials acknowledged this week that they are in negotiations with Linthicum-based credit union SECU for naming rights to the new arena. Jack Lambert, the excellent reporter who recently left the Baltimore Business Journal, had the original scoop on this back in May, but the deal is still being worked out.

Marty Conway, a former executive with IMRE and the Orioles and now a professor at Georgetown, said nabbing a large sponsor will set up Towson to convince other companies to spend on the new arena.

"That would give them the legitimacy they really need," he said. "Sometimes, you need one company to jump in."

Towson had ambitiously aimed to get $500,000 a year for naming rights. That money will go toward paying the debt service on the $70 million project, which was funded by the school at large and not the athletic department.

The athletic department will retain any advertising or sponsor dollars it is able to sell related to its events in the building. Raising revenue for the department will be the new AD's primary job.

Former athletic director Mike Waddell, who left to become an assistant at Arkansas, drew criticism for suggesting a plan to cut men's soccer and baseball in part to make up for a budget shortfall he created. But Waddell has also been credited for turning around the men's basketball and football teams, and for reorganizing the department to focus on donor and sponsor development.

Towson has the makings of a good job for an ambitious athletic director, though Waddell's approach left wounds that will have to be healed. Some long-time employees in the department felt marginalized and believed Waddell didn't respect Towson's past. Some boosters formed the same opinion. Others within the department and alumni community applauded the changes he made.

Fry, whose wife and son attended Towson, is an important ally as Towson fights for support in the Baltimore region. Waddell worked to get him more involved with the athletic department.