Jim Livengood Was Good for Arizona Athletics
Like him or not, Jim Livengood was a good thing for the Arizona Wildcats.
As rumors swirl of his pending departure to UNLV, the Arizona athletic director did what any good business man does—made the Wildcats profitable.
Unlike their rivals to north, the Arizona athletics program has not had to take money from the state in order to keep operating and not go into debt.
Livengood was an excellent fundraiser. He was able to get alumni to give money back to the program, in order to make the Arizona Wildcats an elite athletics program.
When most schools were looking to cut programs in order to save money, the Wildcats were spending it. In a recession, they were able to pay one of the top young coaches in the country $2 million.
Livengood's only area of disappointment was handling coaching situations.
He forced out the most successful football coach in Arizona's history and hired one whose name is unmentionable in Tucson, John Mackovic.
Mackovic brought the program to the worst it may have ever been and was not able to recover until the past two seasons.
Mike Stoops has turned out to be a good hire, but earlier in his tenure, many were calling for his and Livengood's head. Stoops has managed to turn around the atmosphere of the entire program, and a lot of that is due to Livengood's loyalty to him.
Then there is the basketball debacle. Lute Olson showed just how much control he had over Livengood. Olson called all the shots, and Livengood's hands were tied due to Olson's immense popularity.
After Olson's first leave of absence, it appeared as though Kevin O'Neill would be Arizona's next head coach. Olson sent O'Neill to an administrative job before he got another coaching job.
Olson unfortunately suffered a stroke and was unable to continue coaching the next season as scheduled.
Livengood promised fans he would go after the best coach.
Livengood set his sights on John Calipari, but when Calipari left for Kentucky, Livengood had no backup plan.
Tim Floyd was it? Lucky for Arizona fans, Floyd had a change of heart.
Step in, Sean Miller. Despite almost losing Miller too, Livengood was able to convince him to come to the Old Pueblo and coach the 'Cats.
Sure, some of his coaching decisions were bad, but the 'Cats always made money. Livengood should be given a standing ovation for how he helped the Arizona program during his 15 years in Tucson.
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