Miami sack AD Blake James, two days after losing football to FSU

Miami sack AD Blake James, two days after losing football to FSU

Coral Gables, Florida. – Blake James is no longer Miami’s athletic director, with both sides saying it was a mutual decision for him to leave college on Monday in a move that came two days after the soccer team lost to the Florida Hurricanes.

The school said it had begun looking for a replacement for him. Representative Jennifer Stroli will act as interim advertising representative during the research.

Miami is likely to consider more changes in athletics, and soccer coach Manny Diaz faces an uncertain future. The move was taken about six weeks after school president Julio Frink issued a letter to the university community insisting on increasing his involvement in athletics saying “we are fully committed to building teams of championship caliber in the United States.”

“It has been an honor to lead athletics in Miami and to be a part of such a world-class institution,” James said in a statement from the university. “I am proud of the work we have done together, although I know there is still more to be accomplished. …I wish Sugarcane only the best, and I look forward to my next endeavors.”

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Football – the bulk of Miami’s sports brand – has struggled again this season. Miami 19-15 in three seasons for Diaz, including 5-5 this year. The Hurricanes squandered an eight-point lead in the closing minutes of Saturday’s 31-28 loss to Florida State.

Miami has yet to win a football title in the Atlantic Coast Conference since joining the league in 2004, and has not won a national title since 2001.

Diaz said Monday, a few hours before James and Frink met to finalize the decision. “But we respect that winning is not as easy as it seems.”

James was part of the decision-making group that hired Diaz in 2018, which led him to walk away from a job at Temple he had held for less than a month. Diaz was Miami’s defensive coordinator under Marc Richt, and when Richt resigned on December 30, 2018, the Hurricanes needed just a few hours before a deal with Diaz was sealed.

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James spent 17 years in Miami and accepted an AD job in February 2013, with the Hurricanes still in the midst of an NCAA investigation into the actions of rogue former supporter Nevin Shapiro. The Hurricanes went through scholarship and probation restrictions that followed Shapiro’s decision, and James helped the school complete a number of facility projects—a baseball player development center, an indoor soccer training facility, a feeding center and many more.

He is also respected nationally, having served as the past chair of the NCAA Division I Board.

But football, again, is nowhere near the level of championship that Miami craves. And two days after losing to Florida State, Miami made a big change.

“Combined with The U’s history in intercollegiate sports, the reinforcements Blake has championed — in areas ranging from student-athlete support and academic achievement to community outreach and facility upgrades — give us a solid foundation on which to build,” Frink said.

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