Read charged with reducing $1 million deficit

Updated: May 28, 2004, 2:56 AM ET
Associated Press

MISSOULA, Mont. -- Don Read, the most successful head football coach at the University of Montana, was named the school's new athletics director on Thursday, charged with helping the department address a $1 million deficit.

Read, 70, will begin work on June 1 and hold the position for two or three years, said UM President George Dennison. His salary is $109,000.

Dennison characterized Read as a "transitional leader," who would help the department implement plans to erase the budget shortfall, after which the school will begin a national search for a new athletic director.

"I've been straightforward with Don all along," Dennison said. "He has every right to be a candidate if he wants to be two years from now."

Read -- who coached at UM from 1986-95, compiled an overall record of 85-36 and led the Grizzlies to the 1995 NCAA Division I-AA national title -- told a news conference that addressing the deficit will be his top priority. But he said fixing that deficit is already under way, under a plan laid out recently by the university and approved by the state Board of Regents.

"There is no question in my mind that there has been a good, sound plan created to solve the deficit problem that we face, and my job is to be sure that we do it," Read said. "I believe that it is a plan that is achievable and I am excited to be a part of it."

Former athletic director Wayne Hogan resigned in early March, five days after the department's projected $1 million deficit was reported. Marie Porter, an associate athletics director, has been serving as the interim director.

"My thrust, along with the top priority regarding the deficit, is to try to move the program forward," Read said. "By that I mean to give the coaches every opportunity possible to succeed in their individual programs. I think the athletic director should provide leadership, and needs to be concerned with the coaches' morale, with their goals, and with their purpose. I need to create as much harmony among them as I can so that they do the best job possible."

Since retiring from UM in April 1996, Read has written a book "Complete Quarterbacking," and is writing another book. He has also served as a football consultant at the high school and college levels and was a volunteer coach at Douglas County High School for four seasons while living in Castle Rock, Colo.

"I did a lot of things and really enjoyed my retirement," Read said. "But, I really need something to focus on, and what is better than to come back to the University of Montana and be part of a great university and a tremendous athletic program?"

Read said he is anxious to return to the Montana campus.

"My heart has always been in Montana," he said. "I feel so close to the people here and to this university."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press