Here’s some unsolicited advice for Marshall University sports fans.
Give Jeff O’Malley a chance.
He deserves it.
After serving as the Thundering Herd’s Associate Director of Athletics and Chief of Staff for the last 19 years, now the 52-year-old O’Malley has been named Marshall’s interim athletic director.
It was a good choice.
Besides other duties, O’Malley has been the liaison for a quartet of Herd sports. The list includes men’s basketball, men’s soccer, men’s golf and baseball. He also has overseen the athletic department’s academics and compliance offices.
O’Malley has sported several hats and worn them well.
That includes utilizing a law degree he received from the University of Dayton in 1994. It gave Marshall a legal presence when a contract for new head football Charles Huff’s was being negotiated. The same is true when Herd soccer coach Chris Grassie’s new pact was being negotiated.
O’Malley was a key component in both cases.
In case some folks have forgotten, O’Malley was brought to Huntington and Marshall by former athletic director Bob “Kayo” Marcum. They were together in the University of Massachusetts athletic department. So, when Marcum was summoned to shore up MU’s athletic department on an interim basis, he brought O’Malley with him.
What a great package deal.
Since then, O’Malley has grown into a very good athletic official. He is understated, stays behind the scenes and isn’t interested in the limelight.
He simply gets the job done.
What else could any university want?
In the meantime, O’Malley and his wife, Julie, have become fixtures in the community. Their son, Austin, just finished his junior year at Huntington High School and was a member of the Highlanders’ baseball team. And their daughter, Mary Margaret, attends Huntington Middle School.
So, he has been here, lived here and done that.
Isn’t that what everybody should want in an athletic director?
Besides, wouldn’t it feel good to have a new athletic director that already knows the ropes, knows the community and knows the score — on the field and off.
That’s the potential O’Malley brings to his new position. And that’s because he has spent 19 years watching and learning while inherently being groomed for this very position.
Now, it’s his turn.
Marshall is certainly giving him the opportunity because O’Malley is inheriting the largest athletic budget — $33 million — in school history for the 2021-22 fiscal year.
So, the stage is set.
Let’s hope Jeff O’Malley carpes the diem.