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Storm Center, November 16: Blake James fired as AD, Duke kickoff/TV announced

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It was an eventful Monday in the Gables, no?

Bethune Cookman v Miami Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Good morning, Canes fam. Monday was.....EVENTFUL. Let’s recap.

Athletic Director Blake James fired

On Monday, the University of Miami fired Athletic Director Blake James.

Of course, it’s been couched as a “mutual parting of ways”, but let’s call it what it really was: an underperforming individual was fired for deficient performance. How deficient? Take it away, ESPN’s Chris Fallica, a Miami Alum.

And that’s not even taking the piss poor performance of the baseball program, which is just as bad (or worse?) as the stats listed above.

It’s been past time for James to be relieved of his duties. He clearly wasn’t the leader that Miami needed, and the performance of the athletic teams under his watch proved that point tenfold. Then, you take into account his clear and coordinated PR campaign to distance himself from Football Coach Manny Diaz in the days before the NC State game, and you see the picture of someone who was out of their depth even more clearly.

As always, here is the press release on James’s firing mutually agreed upon cessation of work.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The University of Miami and Director of Athletics Blake James today mutually agreed to part ways. James’ 17 years at the University—including eight as athletics director—were marked by class and integrity. He served in several ACC and NCAA leadership roles and earned national recognition from his peers during his time with the Hurricanes.

A national search for the University’s next athletics director will begin immediately.

“It has been an honor to lead Miami athletics and to be a part of such a world-class institution,” said James. “I am proud of the work that we have done together, though I know there is still more yet to be achieved. I want to thank our University leadership, our athletics staff, our coaches, and especially our incredible student-athletes for their commitment to excellence and for believing in what the University of Miami can accomplish. I wish the Canes nothing but the best and look forward to my next endeavors.”

During James’ tenure as athletics director, which began in 2013, Miami student-athletes and teams captured five NCAA individual championships, six ACC team titles, and 71 individual ACC titles. The Spring 2021 semester marked the 15th consecutive semester in which Miami student-athletes averaged a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA and the University’s most recent NCAA Graduation Success Rate was 94 percent. In addition, Miami has made significant facility enhancements, including the $40 million Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility, the Jimmy and Kim Klotz Baseball Player Development Center, and the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence.

“I want to thank Blake for his years of service to the University of Miami,” University of Miami President Julio Frenk said. “Paired with The U’s storied history in intercollegiate sports, the enhancements Blake 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.”

Jennifer Strawley, the University’s deputy director of athletics, will serve as interim athletics director during the search period. Strawley will work closely and collaboratively with the president, as well as with Rudy Fernandez, in his role as chief of staff to the president, and Joe Echevarria, in his role as senior advisor to the president.

I mean, I wish Blake James well in his future endeavors (a role with the ACC conference office maybe, according to this report), but it was good and well past time for him to be removed from his role as AD. And I’m glad one of the needed firings has finally happened.

Regular Season Finale at Duke TV and Kick time announced

I spoke about the TV coverage and kick time for this week’s game vs Virginia Tech yesterday, and that was confirmed today by the ACC conference.

Additionally, game times and TV coverage for next week, regular season finale week, were announced today. And for the Canes, it’s a bad and unfortunately familiar combination for the regular season finale at Duke.

“Miami lost 31-28 and Manny Diaz was the reason why.”

Well now, that’s a headline for you. But, let me assure you of two things:

1. it’s not wrong, and

2. our guy Roman Marciante explained how he came to that conclusion in very clear and excruciatingly accurate detail in his latest Student of the Game film review following that fireable offense of a performance in Tallahassee on Saturday afternoon.

Blips on the Radar

Manny Diaz went on the Joe Rose show to answer some softball questions on Monday morning following the loss at FSU. This was pre-Blake James firing so that wasn’t addressed. But here are my thoughts on the interview, in tweetcap form:

And if you missed the interview on the Joe Rose show from Monday, I’ll save you the Google search and link it right here so click these words that are hyperlinked and go listen.

Oh, and just one last note real quick: Miami has canceled media access to practice for today. Because of course they did.

That’s it for today, but trust and believe, there will be more to discuss...and soon.

Go Canes