Though it stood as the most important element in Pat Chun’s decision to accept the job as Florida Atlantic’s athletic director, convincing his wife Natalie took very little effort.
“She’s from Arizona, so as soon as I said ‘Boca,’ she was all in,” Chun joked. “She does not need Ohio winters anymore.”
As his family watched Monday, Chun was formally introduced as FAU’s new athletic director in front of more than 100 administrators, coaches and media members in FAU Stadium’s Recruiting Lounge. He replaces Craig Angelos, who was dismissed from the position in March, and interim AD Melissa Dawson.
“(Chun) is a person of great accomplishment, energy and vision, and we’re delighted to welcome him to FAU,” said FAU President Mary Jane Saunders. “We have great confidence in his ability to take our athletics department to the next level of excellence.”
Chun, a former associate athletic director for external relations at Ohio State, told the gathered crowd that he’d start slowly, hoping to gather enough information to craft similar fund-raising and community outreach efforts that he mastered at Ohio State, where he started working immediately after graduating from the school in 1997.
In 15 years of work in Ohio State’s robust athletics department, Chun held six different positions, engineering Ohio State’s record-breaking $126 million multimedia partnership with IMG College and shepherding a 20-percent increase in annual fund-raising.
He oversaw more than 90 employees at Ohio State, working in communications, fund-raising and promotions, ticketing, alumni and community relations and several other areas. He’ll spend more time at FAU overseeing all departments, taking a long-term, big-picture approach.
At FAU, he’s joining a completely different athletics culture. A 2012 USA Today report listed Ohio State as the second-richest athletics department in the nation, with more than $130 million in revenue in 2011. FAU generated just $19 million last year. He’s also leaving the Big Ten, one of the nation’s most powerful athletic conferences, for the Sun Belt, one of Division I’s smallest.
“Being at a place like Ohio State gets you ready for a job like this,” Chun said after his press conference. “This is a huge opportunity. If the question is, ‘Why FAU?’ The potential is here. … I hate saying potential. You could tell people are sick of hearing that word around here, but the potential is what attracts you here.”
Chun takes over in a period of transition at FAU.
The Owls have a new football stadium, a sterling $62 million complex that opened in October, and a new head football coach in Carl Pelini, who took over immediately following FAU’s disastrous 2011 season. The school has also been mentioned several times in conference realignment talks, though it’s still a member of the Sun Belt Conference as Chun takes over.
“The role of the athletic director is complex,” Chun said. “The role of the AD is provide leadership for this program. We just need to make sure our goals are correct and start achieving things. We’ve got a team together that’s going to try to do that.”
Chun was one of four finalists for the job, FAUOwlAccess.com reported. He had a phone interview in mid-May, and flew down several weeks later to spend a day on campus with Saunders and the search committee. Last week, Chun met with just Saunders and Robert Stilly, chair of FAU’s Board of Trustees, for a final up-close chat.
“You get yourself to a point where you know this is a good job,” Chun said. “Luckily for me they liked me as much as I liked them.
“When I spent the day down here, initially, when you meet all the people and spend time with them and hear how much they care about this place — great people define organizations. At that point it’s a no-brainer.”
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