Missouri AD Mike Alden to step down after 17 years

ST. LOUIS (AP) Missouri athletic director Mike Alden is stepping down after a 17-year tenure marked by several high-profile coaching hires, significant facility upgrades and the school's 2012 move from the Big 12 Conference to the SEC.

Alden plans to leave in August but will remain at Mizzou as an instructor in its College of Education and an administrator in a new global service-learning program. The school announced the move on Thursday and is planning a Friday morning news conference.

The Chicago-area native with roots on a family farm outside Columbia took charge of Missouri athletics in 1998 after working as Texas State's athletic director in San Marcos.

In 2000, he hired Gary Pinkel, a little-known coach at Toledo. Pinkel became the school's winningest football coach and led Missouri to two consecutive East Division titles in its first three years in the Southeastern Conference.

Alden had less success trying to find the winning formula in men's basketball, hiring four head coaches since Norm Stewart's contentious retirement early in Alden's tenure.

That group includes Quin Snyder, under whom the NCAA cited Missouri for recruiting violations and placed the school on three years' probation; Mike Anderson, who flirted with the top job at several other schools before leaving to coach at Arkansas, where he was an assistant under Nolan Richardson; and Frank Haith, who left Missouri for Tulsa in what many saw as a downward move just two years after being named national coach of the year.

Alden's official campus bio is littered with what it calls ''history-making landmarks'' under his leadership, from improved graduation rates to spearheading more than $265 million in private donations for projects such as the current Memorial Stadium expansion. He held several NCAA leadership roles and is a former president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive called Alden ''a transformative leader'' who ''commanded national respect across the college athletics landscape.''

Alden signed a seven-year contract extension in 2012 that pays a base salary of $301,917, with the possibility of earning up to $777,976 through performance incentives. Among Missouri athletic directors, his time in office trails only Don Faurot - who presided over the program a total of 27 years in two stints interrupted by World War II and for whom the school's football field is named.

In a letter to athletic department employees and Mizzou fans released soon after he announced the move at a Thursday afternoon staff meeting, Alden called his time in Columbia ''a lifetime for an athletics administrator.''

Alden has spent the past year working for Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, the former Texas A&M president who succeeded Brady Deaton, Alden's boss the previous 10 years. Loftin said the school has already begun a national search for Alden's replacement.

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Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/azagier

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