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USC seeks new deal for Hyman

University in preliminary talks to keep athletics director at post until he retires

USC leaders have had preliminary discussions with athletics director Eric Hyman about a contract extension that could keep Hyman at USC until he retires, according to members of the university’s board of trustees.

Retiring USC president Andrew Sorensen, who hired Hyman away from TCU three years ago, was involved in the contract talks with Hyman prior to Friday’s announcement that Harris Pastides, USC’s vice president for research and health sciences, would succeed Sorensen.

“Andrew Sorensen wanted to make sure that anything that was discussed was something the new president could agree upon,” board chairman Herbert Adams said.

Pastides, who has been at USC since 1998, said he likes the job Hyman has done and is in favor of extending his contract, but he first wants to consult with the trustees.

Hyman, 57, has two years remaining on the five-year contract he signed in 2005.

The current deal, which expires on June 30, 2010, is worth a guaranteed $430,000 a year with an additional $75,000 in incentives. Hyman also receives $250,000 in a tax-deferred retirement plan if he remains at USC through 2010.

Mike Mungo, a longtime member of the board’s executive committee, said Hyman should be rewarded for getting the athletic department’s budget back in order. Hyman took over a department that lost $2 million in Mike McGee’s final year as athletics director and steered it back into the black.

Hyman, named the national athletics director of the year at TCU in 2004, also has replenished an athletics department reserve fund that had been drained to $3.3 million two years ago. USC expects to have $8.7 million in the fund after the 2008-09 fiscal year.

Mungo said he would recommend that Hyman be given another five-year contract with a rollover clause “for two or three years to let him go to 65.”

“I think this guy does everything right, everything the right way. He’s a team player,” Mungo said. “He is forthcoming. When he has an idea that he wants to do, he talks to you. He calls you up. ... If we’ve got to vote on his money, he talks to us and explains it to us before we get to a board meeting.”

But Mungo said Hyman should not expect a big raise.

“He makes as much as the president does now so I don’t think it would be any big sums of money,” Mungo said. “When you make over $500,000 a year, you can’t (complain).”

Hyman declined to address the contract talks, saying it would be “more appropriate for other people to comment on something like that as opposed to me.”

Eddie Floyd, another longtime trustee who is on the executive committee, said he believes Hyman has done a good job, but does not want the board to interfere with Pastides.

“It seems like if we’re going to get a new president, (a contract extension for Hyman) should come as a recommendation from our new president,” Floyd said. “I don’t think we ought to jump in and start extending contracts. If we’re going to do that, the president ought to do that. If he makes a recommendation, than we can make a decision. That should be his prerogative.”

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.