TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Stan Wilcox was waiting for just the right opening. The Duke senior deputy of athletics was surprised when he heard the news in June: Florida State was looking for an athletic director.
“When it came open, my first reaction was, ‘Oh, my goodness. The top program in the ACC is open,’ ” Wilcox said.
And he immediately went to his boss, Duke athletics director Kevin White, and said, “This might be the one.”
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As it turned out, Florida State and Wilcox turned out to be the right match for each other.
Wilcox, 54, has been at Duke since 2008. He has also served as an associate AD for the Big East, an administrator at Notre Dame and a legislative assistant at the NCAA.
He now becomes Florida State’s first African-American athletic director.
“I am thrilled and very thankful to President (Eric) Barron for affording me this great honor,” said Wilcox, who has a five-year deal with the school. “I have followed Florida State athletics from afar and through the ACC, and have always been a big fan of FSU’s student-athletes on the field and in the classroom.”
Florida State had formed a search committee and used an outside hiring firm to help conduct a national search for an athletic director to replace Randy Spetman, who was reassigned to adviser in June. Vanessa Fuchs had been running the athletics department in the interim after Spetman was reassigned to adviser.
School president Eric Barron said that he interviewed a number of people over the phone but narrowed the list to four finalists. Barron and a group of Florida State administrators and boosters flew to Atlanta on Sunday to meet with Wilcox.
Barron said he personally called Duke administrators, including White, and was impressed with what he heard. At Duke, Wilcox was in charge of football operations, football scheduling, promotions, ticketing, digital media and sports information.
Wilcox has also served as president of the Black Coaches Association from 2003-05 and was on the BCA’s board of directors for 11 years.
“His exceptional portfolio of strategic planning and fundraising experience and his reputation as a motivator, effective communicator and facilitator, as well as a commitment to the education of our student-athletes made Stan a clear choice,” Barron said.
On Wednesday morning, Wilcox was prepared to attend meetings with Duke administrators. But a phone call from Barron quickly changed his day, and he made the trip to Tallahassee for a late afternoon introductory press conference.
Wilcox spoke for about a half hour about a variety of subjects. Without going into specifics, he spoke about the need for upgrades to Doak Campbell Stadium and the Civic Center. He talked about the fans that have the option to watch games on Saturdays from plush sofas with cold drinks in the fridge nearby.
“We have to create a fan experience that is second to none,” Wilcox said.
Wilcox is a former Notre Dame men’s basketball player (1977-1981) and helped the Fighting Irish reach the Final Four in 1978.
So it wasn’t long before a question came about Notre Dame’s 2014 football game at Florida State. Wilcox turned to his right and began doing the chop.