On Tuesday, former athletic director Blake James and the University of Miami decided to part ways, just three days after the Hurricanes stumbled on the road in a loss to the archrival Florida State Seminoles.
Since then, several candidates have surfaced as potential replacements to fill the vacancy. As reported by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, among those are Washington State AD Pat Chun, University of South Florida AD Michael Kelly, Florida Atlantic University AD Brian White, former Louisville AD Tom Jurich, and University of Miami alums Gino Torretta and Alonzo Highsmith.
In a time where so much uncertainty surrounds the Hurricanes football program, one thing is certain - the next athletic director must be someone with experience, proven success, and someone who is dedicated to a championship culture – not just on the field of play, but off it as well to ensure sustained excellence.
Former University of Miami defensive end and 2001 national champion, John Square fits the bill, and is someone flying under the radar of names deserving consideration.
Square arrived at Miami in 2000 out of Yates High School in Houston, Texas as a highly decorated athlete. The tri-sport athlete (football, basketball, track & field) also graduated top ten percent of his high school class.
Most Hurricanes football fans remember Square for being a tall, lanky, and speedy edge rusher who finished third on the 2001 team in sacks.
What most do not know, is how Square has aspirations of being the first African-American athletic director in UM history.
Since 2018, John Square has held the title of senior associate athletics director/internal operations at George Washington University.
Additionally, he serves as the sport administrator for women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country and track & field, and men’s and women’s tennis. He also has been tasked with leading regular evaluation of current policies, procedures, and practices for accomplishing strategic and operational objectives.
Representing the Atlantic 10 Conference on the NCAA Strategic Vision and Planning Committee (SVPC) through 2025, Square has oversight responsibilities for the division one governing structure including business and legal affairs, strategic planning and research, division one membership activities, and health and safety matters.
NCAA division one committees that report to the SVPC are women’s athletics, the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, NCAA Honors Committee, Post-grad Scholarship Committee, the Walter Byer’s Scholarship Committee, and the NCAA Division One Institutional Performance Program Committee.
But before his tenure at GWU, Square held several titles at the University of Miami. His most recent being manager of inclusion from 2015-2017 where he supported, managed, and implemented inclusion strategies and programs for the university.
In short, Square would be an athletic director that focuses his efforts on all sports, not just one in particular. He is well aware of the tradition and history that baseball, track & field, men’s & women’s basketball, tennis, golf, etc. have earned.
And although he would make certain that Hurricanes athletics as a whole are held to a championship level standard, he is well aware of what football means to the university and how it can be a huge asset financially.
Furthermore, he knows what it takes build a winning culture as he was a player under the most successful athletic director in school history - the late, great, Paul Dee.
Part of knowing how to build a championship culture is being able to design and implement education and training in areas including organizational culture, leadership, and diversity initiatives. These are some of Square’s functions at GWU, they also are qualities and practices that seem to have been absent at the top of the athletics departments at Miami.
Square would not only institute a winning culture from top to bottom, he would be sure to surround himself with staffers with like minds that will help fortify and instill this vision for years to follow.
Several institutions in multiple conferences have reached out to Square for an array of opportunities within their athletic departments, including roles in football supervision.
At the very least, the University of Miami should be giving one of their own champions a call.