In an announcement last week, Utah State University President Stan L. Albrecht revealed a nationwide search for a new dean of the Ag School had determined that person was already on campus and had been for 23 years.
Ken White, who is about the best combination of capable and affable as you will meet, was actually named dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences AND vice president of Extension AND director of the Agriculture Experiment Station.
A few years back he was in the middle of a worldwide story that brought attention to USU for his leadership role in nuclear transfer research that resulted in the first live equine clone ever produced in the world.
And this has a place on the sports page because?
Well, in what spare time he may have, especially when he starts his new job on July 1, Ken is also Utah State’s faculty athletic representative (FAR). He has held that position since 1999.
The FAR is a member of the faculty at an NCAA member institution. He or she is designated by the institution to serve as a liaison between the institution and the athletics department, and also as a representative of the institution in conference and NCAA affairs.
In a word, White says the FAR is the institutional “conscience.”
“We try to provide the oversight that will protect the institution, putting procedures and protocols into place so that the student-athletes’ welfare is protected.
“It’s one of those jobs that, if you’re doing it correctly, your name is not familiar to sports fans because it is never in the newspaper. That assumes your athletics department has not had major problems.”
The NCAA rule book is absurdly convoluted; it certainly qualifies on all three phases of the “P” test: It is preposterous, perplexing and perturbing. Routinely it takes 4-5 years for a school’s FAR to get up to speed on all the ins and outs and the nuances of college athletics’ rules.
Thankfully, the NCAA changed a rule a while back that is typical of the silliness.
It used to be that you could offer an athletic recruit a bagel, but if you put peanut butter on it, that constituted an extra benefit, a violation, and was subject to NCAA sanctions.
“It is a complex assignment,” White said. “Schools tend to keep an experienced FAR onboard for quite a while, someone who is very good at it, who has invested the years to understand it all.”
The Aggies may have a decision to make. Will White’s expanded new responsibilities on campus preclude his continuing as USU’s faculty athletic rep?
It may be that if he steps away from two significant national assignments it still might work out. He is the chair of the NCAA’s Division I Academic Cabinet and he is also a member of the student-athlete Re-Instatement Committee.
USU’s day-to-day attention to NCAA issues is the responsibility of the Aggies’ compliance director, Jake Garlock. Because national rules also involve academic performance of student-athletes that brings the department’s academics specialist Brian Evans into the picture, too. They work with White on such issues.
In time, they will know and we will know how far the old FAR goes until a new FAR.
Quite far, hopefully.
Craig Hislop is a longtime Cache Valley broadcaster, who can now be heard weekday mornings on KVNU. He is among a number of Cache Valley freelance writers whose columns appear in The Herald Journal as a part of an effort to expose readers to a variety of community voices. He is not an employee of the newspaper. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.