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Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Checking in with Miami AD Blake James

By Andrea Adelson

Blake James
Athletic director Blake James says Miami's focus is beyond the black cloud of an NCAA investigation.
AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Miami's Blake James has had his hands full since he was promoted to athletic director in February. The NCAA investigation that hung over the program then continues to hang over the program now.

I had a chance to catch up with James during ACC spring meetings to get a gauge on where Miami is in the investigation, and how he has handled the challenge. Here is a little of what he had to say:

What’s been the biggest challenge for you, given what’s hanging over the university?

BJ: There are challenges at every school. I just look at this opportunity, every job has its challenges and you deal with the challenge you have and you put yourself in the best position to be successful and you move forward. We have a group that’s going in one direction, and we’re all looking forward to putting the situation behind us and being able to focus on all the other things we need to do to be our best. Right now we’re going through the process with the NCAA and when that process is complete there’ll be other challenges out there and other things we have to work on but those are things you’re dealing with on a daily basis in an effort to achieve excellence.

Where is everything with the case right now?

BJ: We’re going to the next step of the process, the committee on infractions meeting we’ll have coming up in the near future. Beyond that, it would be hard for me to get into any more of the specifics.

From your seat, what have been the biggest frustrations with the process?

BJ: What I would say is if you looked at President [Donna] Shalala’s statement in February, that’s where we were at then and that’s where we’re at now. With that said, you recognize there’s a process to everything and we’re working our way through the process and look forward to having this done.

Is it hard to look forward with this looming and no resolution yet?

BJ: No. You have to always be looking to the bigger picture and to the greater goal, and you deal with everything you have going on around you. Whether it’s this situation or something else, there’s always going to be something going on that is not prohibiting you from getting to your goal, but it’s a distraction of ultimately getting you to where you want to go and so this is something that obviously is very serious, we take very serious and we’ll look forward to being through the process. But you don’t lose sight of where you’re going because this is going on around you.

Do you have a good idea of when this may be wrapped up?

BJ: No. I would say there will be no one happier than I am when it’s done, but I couldn’t speculate to when that is.

How much of your day is consumed by this?

BJ: We have a great team at the university, and we have a great group on the outside that’s working and those are the people who deserve the credit. President Shalala has put me in a position to do my job and do what we have to do. Part of it is this, but it doesn’t consume my time. We have a great group of people handling so much of the work that goes into this process. For the most part, I’ve been able to focus on the things we need to do to win ACC championships, graduate our student-athletes, develop young people -- the focus of what my job should be on a day-to-day basis.

Speaking of ACC championships, expectations are there for Miami to be in the league title game this year. What does that say about the job Al Golden has done given the NCAA cloud, and how do you feel about those expectations?

BJ: First I’ll say I think Al has done an incredible job. He’s someone who’s had to deal with the adversity much more on a daily basis than I have. To have someone with his character, his integrity, his approach in place is what makes my job all the better. We have a champion in a coach. In terms of the expectations, the expectations are always there for Miami. There’s never been a time when there weren’t those types of real lofty expectations. We’re excited as a program. We see what everyone else sees. We have a special group of young men that are representative of our program, we have a winner in a coach and when you combine those two, great things happen. We saw tremendous progress last year and I think we’ll continue to see tremendous progress under Coach Golden and that has us excited.