Husky Trails | Barbara Hedges a Hall of Famer?

Ian PetersonCorrespondent IMay 6, 2009

SEATTLE - JUNE 12:  University of Washington Athletic Director Barbara Hedges, addresses the media at a press conference announcing the firing of Head Football Coach Rick Neuheisel on June 12, 2003 in Seattle, Washington. Neuheisel was fired for betting on an NCAA basketball tournament pool and NCAA rules prohibit coaches from wagering on any college sport.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

Today, former assistant athletic director at USC and full athletic director at Washington is being inducted into the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors' Hall of Fame

In a word: what?!?

Anybody even remotely close to the University of Washington will know that her tenure as athletic director was an unmitigated disaster. One in which many fans blame the current state of Washington football on.

Her tenure lurched from one crisis to the next. From a prescription drug scandal to the betting scandal that ousted former head coach Rick Neuheisel, currently UCLA head coach.

Art Thiel, a Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter, wrote, well, artfully, that many inside the administration felt she was a weak manager and this was a disaster waiting to happen. Most, however, feared the power she wielded and said nothing.

She avoided the harder issues and confrontations by simply ignoring them, which led to huge problems for the University later on.

The prescription drug scandal was the most dubious, even if the gambling issue sticks in our heads better.

A former team physician, William Scheyer, over a period of 19 years handed out what has been described as "tons" of sedatives, stimulants, steroids, tranquilizers, and a multitude of other controlled substances.

The athletic department merely dismissed the employee in September of 2003, politely and quietly.

The gambling scandal swallowed the prescription drugs scandal in a heartbeat. The messy and very public breakup between Rick Neuheisel goes down in Washington history as one of the more intriguing dramas. 

Neuheisel was hired, with equally as much fanfare as his dismissal, in 1999. Jim Lambright, longtime assistant under Jim Owens and Don James and head coach from 1993-1998, was unceremoniously dumped for the flashier and younger Neuheisel.

Within four seasons, after diminishing returns, Neuheisel was fired for participating in an NCAA basketball pool. The problem was the athletic department was absolutely unclear on their policy of gambling, and internal sources noted that their policy conflicted with that of the NCAA.

Because of this, Neuheisel was able to sue the NCAA and UW for the way in which his termination proceeded, to the tune of $4.5 million.

She did have some success, with the football team going undefeated and winning a national championship in her first year, 1991. The team also went on probation in 1993 which ultimately led coach Don James to retire in protest.

She was a strong promoter of equal opportunity in sports, and led the growth of some of the smaller sports, especially women's sports.

She also was committed to up-keeping the academic standards of Washington athletics, which has always been a feather in the cap for the University.

However, her tenure is most certainly colored by her inability to deal with crisis and some of the major scandals that happened under her watch. It is no wonder that her successor, Todd Turner, was chosen specifically to by a steadying hand on the program.

But that led us to Tyrone Willingham, who though he ran a tight ship, it still was a sinking one.

Does she deserve to be a Hall of Fame athletic director, in terms of some of the other sports, maybe. In terms of football, I would say no.


News and Notes

We all know that Steve Sarkisian is a 180 degree turn from Tyrone Willingham in terms of personality, and if you need any more proof, does this look like something Tyrone would do.

The APR, Academic Progress Rate, scores came out today and Washington Football scored a 954, 13 points higher than the 941 Football Bowl Subdivision average.