Sumarah expects a nationwide search to replace Towriss, but isn’t sure how candidates will respond. He said any serious contender will want to speak first with Towriss before accepting the job.
“I think you’d kind of like to know what occurred, for sure,” he said about the resignation, which Towriss called a “mutually acceptable agreement” in the statement.
“You don’t want to walk into a hornet’s nest as a coach. I mean, the biggest thing a coach can have and get is support. You want to know you’re getting backing from the university.”
When it was announced the University of Saskatchewan had formed a Huskie Athletics advisory board of trustees, my first thought was Brian Towriss would no longer be the football coach.
I am confident in saying at least one person on the 11-person board wanted Towriss out.
With a six-to-five split between members of the public and employees of the university on the board, I fear Huskie Athletics is now being run by a citizen or a small group of them. It is the first board of its type in Canada. I find that interesting in itself.
Members of the board are David Dube, Diane Jones Konihowski, Tom Anselmi, David Sutherland, Shelley Brown and Ken Juba. U of S representatives are Patti McDougall, Greg Fowler, Debra Pozega Osburn, Chad London and Peta Bonham-Smith.
U of S president Peter Stoicheff appointed Dube as the first chair of the advisory board. Dube is a businessperson, philanthropist, member of the U of S board of governors and long-time supporter of Huskie Athletics.
Dube has sunk a lot of money into the football program. He is responsible for some of the special uniforms the team wears and funds game-day promotions. They have become spectacular events. I am sure Towriss loved being part of them.
Dube made it clear when the board of trustees was announced that change was long overdue at the U of S.
“Do you have the same cellphone as you had 20 years ago? I doubt it,” Dube said. “I’m sure you don’t fly in a 100-year-old airplane, or a 100-year-old car. This was a 100-year-old governance model.”
And you don’t play football for a 60-year-old coach who has been in the job for 33 years, apparently.
The advisory board, which reports to Stoicheff, was scheduled to begin its work last month.
Not long after it grabbed the reins, Huskies athletic director Basil Hughton announced his retirement. Last week, an emotional Towriss stepped in front of the media to announce he was stepping down after those 33 years as head coach. There is a pattern here.
I don’t get out of the office nearly enough for news conferences. I didn’t want to miss this one because I had a feeling the announcement was going to pertain to Towriss’ future with a program. Was he going to be fired?
I had one question prepared: “What was the role of the advisory board in making this decision?”
Right off the hop, an emotional Towriss announced he was stepping down. A month earlier, Towriss told The StarPhoenix he would be back in 2017 unless someone thought otherwise.
Clearly, someone or a group of someones thought otherwise.
I changed my question.
“Was the decision yours, Brian?”
He stumbled, but toed the company line.
I had a phone call when I returned to the office, confirming what I suspected. A tweet from an insider, since deleted, said people are being naïve if they believed Towriss was leaving of his own volition.
The boosters have been given the U of S Huskies. It’s as simple as that. The Huskies are not an athletic department of the University, they are a play thing of wealthy donors. Have fun recruiting someone to fill that position.