Alden keeps job as Missouri's athletic director

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- From Truman the Tiger to pompom-shaking
cheerleaders, the backdrop for Missouri's unveiling of new men's
basketball coach Mike Anderson at Mizzou Arena Sunday afternoon was
pure celebration.

For embattled athletic director Mike Alden -- who hours earlier
seemingly survived efforts to fire him -- relief may be the
operative word.

A grim-faced group of university leaders, joined on speaker
phone by Missouri curators from across the state, spent
two-and-a-half hours behind closed doors during an emergency
meeting to discuss unspecified personnel matters.

The topic of discussion, according to numerous media reports,
was the fate of Alden, who has been under consistent public fire
since mid-February over the handling of former men's basketball
coach Quin Snyder's resignation.

After the curators' meeting, system President Elson Floyd
declined comment, but spokesman Joe Moore said no vote was taken.
And University of Missouri-Columbia chancellor Brady Deaton, who
attended the meeting, said Alden is still on the job.

Two hours later, Anderson, a former Arkansas assistant lured
from the top job at Alabama-Birmingham, spoke glowingly of Alden,
his new boss.

"I have the utmost confidence in Mike Alden," Anderson told
reporters and fans. "I see some great days ahead. And it's going
to be under the leadership of Mike Alden."

When he resigned in early February with six regular-season games
to go, Snyder said he was forced out by Alden, receiving the news
from Gary Link, a Tiger broadcaster and Alden assistant. Alden has
denied that account, and two university investigations stopped
short of verifying Snyder's charge.

On Sunday, Alden called the talk of his possible ouster a
"distraction" that takes a back seat to the announcement of
Anderson's hiring.…

"My focus hasn't been on that really at all, to be honest with
you," he said. "My focus has been and will continue to be on
doing the best job I can possibly do as the athletic director of
this institution."

Alden clearly has the support of Deaton, his boss, who before
introducing Anderson hailed the athletic director for bringing the
coaching search "to a successful completion."

"We cannot be any more satisfied with the outcome," Deaton

Anderson, the first permanent black head coach in a major sport
at Missouri, signed a five-year contract, said Alden, who declined
to immediately release the terms of the contract.

Anderson, 46, is a former assistant to Nolan Richardson at
Arkansas and played for Richardson at Tulsa.

As head coach at UAB for four years, Anderson had an 89-41
record with three NCAA Tournament appearances. UAB was 24-7 this
season and lost to Kentucky 69-64 in the first round of the

After Anderson's introduction, Deaton reiterated that Alden
remains in his good graces.

"We're charging ahead," he said. "Mike is athletic director
and has done a great job. … We couldn't be any happier."

Alden took over the Missouri athletics department in 1998 after
leading the athletics department at Southwest Texas State
University the previous two years.

Under his watch, the department's operating budget, $13.7
million when he took over, has nearly tripled.

And by most accounts, Alden has excelled at fundraising, a vital
part of any athletics director's job. Most notably, he helped
secure a $25 million donation from Bill and Nancy Laurie and $35
million in state bonds to help build the new basketball arena.

Anderson would not discuss whether he was given any assurances
as to Alden's long-term future before taking the basketball job. He
also declined to say whether his choice would have been different
had Alden been ousted earlier Sunday.

Asked whether Alden had the support of curators, who are
political appointees, Deaton replied: "I'll let the curators speak
for themselves."

Those curators aren't talking, though. Several curators
contacted by The Associated Press Sunday night either declined
comment or did not immediately return telephone calls.