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August 18, 2008 12:37 PM

Emmert speaks

Posted by Bud Withers

Washington president Mark Emmert was interviewed this morning by Dave Mahler on KJR radio, addressing a variety of topics from the athletic-director vacancy to the status of football coach Tyrone Willingham.

Regarding Willingham, Emmert said, "You certainly don'tsit and say, 'Well, you've got to have X number of wins. What I want to see is what every fan and coach Willingham want to see: I want to see significant improvement in the way they play, along with the improvement we're seeing off the field. We're just going to let all this work out.

"Ty is a fabulous guy, and I'm fully supportive of him ... the fans need to be good Husky fans. They need to say, 'I'm pulling for him.' Imagine if he rips off a couple of wins early. It could be a very special year. [But] you support your people, that's what you have to do.''

Emmert said the AD search slowed somewhat with the start of summer and end of the school year.

Said Emmert, "I'd really hoped and anticipated it would be filled sooner than this ... I hope we can get it wrapped up before the school year starts. That's my goal now''

Emmert didn't rule out that the choice could be Scott Woodward, the interim athletic director.

"It's a question of whether I want to cut off my right or my left hand'' Emmert said, referring to Woodward's skills in UW external affairs. "Right now -- and my preference all along -- is to let Scott stay in the role he's extraordinary at. [But] Scott's a team player. We'll see where that winds up''

Does that mean it's possible Woodward could get the job full-time, but more likely he'll return to his old job?

"I think that's probably fair.'' Emmert said. "He's done a great job [as interim AD]. I've been asking him to do an awful lot for us. Where this winds up is an open question."

As for obtaining state funds to help with a proposed renovation of Husky Stadium, Emmert said, "I don't doubt for a minute this is an uphill slog, no question about it.''

Emmert argues that the implementation of the hotel and restaurant taxes that have helped other stadiums in Seattle would be well-suited to helping the UW's stadium effort, saying, "A Husky football game has a bigger impact on the economy, on the hotels and restaurants, than does a Seahawks game. NFL fans don't travel to games. College fans do. We think it makes some sense to have some of the tax stream to support this project''

Emmert talked about a "$250 million to $300 millio'' renovation project, and said only about half that could be supported by traditional, donor-based athletic sources.

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