Copyright 2017 Collier County Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved
Naples Daily News (Florida)
Internal friction between Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher and key stakeholders in the athletics program will likely be a key factor in his ongoing stay-or-go saga, according to multiple sources within and close to the university.
"The football coach has three key relationships," one of those sources said. "The president of the university, the athletics director and the president of the Boosters."
"Only one of those is healthy."
That one healthy relationship is between Fisher and FSU President John Thrasher, hired in 2014.
While Thrasher recently told the Florida Times-Union that the eight-year coach is "good as gold" and can stay "forever," he acknowledged the issue in a prepared statement to the Tallahassee DemocratTuesday.
"There's always personal dynamics in play in these situations," Thrasher said.
Fisher has routinely dealt with Thrasher instead of Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Stan Wilcox, sources told the Democrat. That has been the case during the courtship of Fisher by Texas A&M for its head coach job, which is being handled internally by Thrasher. There also is a historical precedent for high-profile coaches working directly with the president.
Wilcox told the Democrat in a prepared statement he has a "good relationship" with Fisher.
"First and foremost, Jimbo is as good a coach as there is in college football," Wilcox said. "He and I have a good relationship. We both share a passion for the well-being of our student-athletes."
Another complicating factor is the relationship between Fisher and Seminole Boosters, Inc. President and CEO Andy Miller, according to multiple sources.
"They just don't like each other," said one of four people associated with the university and its athletics program. They spoke to the Democrat on the condition they not be named because of the tenuous nature of the negotiations with Fisher.
While published reports from Houston continue to indicate Fisher has agreed in principle to a deal, Fisher has declined to comment on the Aggies' job. He also did not return comment for this story.
Fisher is unhappy with the Boosters' focus on projects other than football operations, according to sources.
Miller told the Democrat Tuesday that he has "no personal feelings that would negatively affect the support the Boosters give to the athletic program." He stressed that he and Fisher have worked together on a professional level to "elevate the program and always made it a priority to support the football program.
"Coach Fisher worked with Seminole Boosters to raise money for the Dunlap Indoor Practice Center, the Moore Athletic Center Renovations, Champions Football residence hall as well as Doak Campbell Stadium renovations which are all projects we've completed for football over the last five years," Miller said.
Miller said the Boosters' role is to raise money for the advancement of the university, including all 20 of its men's and women's sports teams, and football.
He said the Boosters respond to the priorities as articulated by the athletic director and president.
"As for capital projects, we have been responsive to coach Fisher's facility requests including the indoor practice facility, locker rooms, coaches offices, player lounge and student housing for football and are actively fund-raising for his most recent request for a football facility that is currently under architectural study by the athletic department," Miller said.
Thrasher defended the setup between the athletics department and the Boosters, which serves as the fund-raising arm of FSU's teams.
"This structure has been in place since the Boosters were founded," Thrasher said. "It has served us well, and I don't see any issues that reasonable adults could not work through.
"How many football coaches have we had in the last 40 years?"
The Boosters has raised and spent $150 million toward facilities just for football since 2012 and more than $400 million since the early 1990s.
The organization annually transfers $22 million to the athletics department for all its programs.
In addition to raising operating funds, facility gifts and endowments, the Boosters also funds long-term debt of $10 million annually on facilities already built.
Miller said Wilcox has also asked the Boosters to raise funds for additional athletic department priorities including a new golf course, basketball and baseball facilities, new scoreboards for several teams as well as additional projects in all sports.
The Boosters have also been actively fundraising for the football facility requested by Fisher and have received the first seven-figure leadership gift. They are currently making proposals to several other prospective donors.
Read More of Today's AB Headlines
Subscribe to Our Daily E-Newsletter