Orange: the traditional color of a basketball, the color of the seats that filled the Orange Bowl, the thirst-quenching sports drinks on the sidelines.
Green: the cleat-sunken turf of football fields, the color of meticulously manicured golf courses, the freshly-steamed carpet of Kirby Hocutt’s office.
Orange and green: the colors of Hocutt’s University of Miami polo shirt, a staple in his wardrobe since becoming the University of Miami’s newest athletic director.
In the last few years, the University of Miami’s athletic programs have suffered a significant decline. Their nationally renowned football team has ceased to win championships, ticket sales have diminished and, with the demolition of the Orange Bowl, they are no longer playing in their longtime home.
Hocutt’s presence marks a new beginning for the Hurricanes.
His soft-spoken nature exudes a kind of enthusiasm almost disproportionate with the deteriorating athletic program, but it is exactly this kind of progressive attitude that differentiated him from other candidates.
“Kirby stood out as a candidate with energy and integrity and a laser focus on the well-being of student athletes,” said Joe Natoli, the University of Miami’s senior vice president for Business and Finance and its chief financial officer, who chaired the search committee for the new athletic director.
Expectations at Miami are high for Hocutt, but he’s embracing the challenge.
“I welcome challenges and opportunities to get better,” Hocutt said. “I think we have tremendous opportunity.”
Hocutt’s zeal to succeed and optimism are attitudes he, too, hopes will catch on.
“There are a lot of positive things going on this academic year, and I truly believe success breeds success. So, as programs have success, others see that and want to emulate that and want to build off of that,” Hocutt said. “I’m positive athletic success is something we’ll have to celebrate in the coming years.”
Dan Hauser, who worked with Hocutt for a couple of years while at Ohio University, is sure that success will come.
“Kirby is a great leader who lets individuals bring their own creative energy to the table,” he said.
Hocutt’s strength as a leader lies in his understanding of the human condition. Despite a busy schedule and an athletic program to oversee, Hocutt’s focus remains on people.
“[My] top priorities are continuing to meet everyone and gain a complete understanding of how we function,” Hocutt said.
Part of his strategy to bring a winning atmosphere back to Miami is to completely overhaul the university’s athletic facilities.
Said Hocutt, “Right now, if you look at some of our athletic facilities, they are not at the same level of excellence that’s synonymous with Miami.”
Besides winning championships, Hocutt intends to target education. He hopes to increase the university’s current graduate success rate of 81 percent to 100 percent by the year’s end and focus on the student aspect of being a student athlete.
As a former student athlete, he draws a lot of his inspiration from his own experiences in college.
“I was a student athlete, so I remember how challenging times can be,” Hocutt said. “And as these young people graduate and move on with their life, they’ll look back and reflect at their time at Miami as some of the best years of their life.”
Hocutt’s attitude and unique perspective make him a good fit at Miami and, according to Natoli, Hocutt’s future at Miami looks quite promising.
To this end, Natoli assures, “There’s a lot to like about Kirby Hocutt.”