Missouri interim AD Wren Baker is expected to be offered and accept the athletics director job at North Texas, multiple sources told FootballScoop Wednesday. The Denton Record-Chronicle first reported Baker’s candidacy at North Texas.
While the hiring is not complete, sources said it could become official as soon as later this week. UNT regents have a teleconference scheduled for Friday with the purpose of considering a new AD hire, the DR-C reported.
As always, Baker’s hiring would be subject to board approval and no hire is official until it’s official.
Baker recently completed his first year as deputy AD at Missouri and has run the department since Mack Rhoades’ departure for Baylor earlier this month. Prior to that, Baker served as deputy AD at Memphis and as athletics director at Northwest Missouri State.
Baker could have been a candidate for the full-time AD job at Missouri and had head football coach Barry Odom in his corner, a source said, but jumped on a sure-thing opportunity to become a candidate at North Texas.
Much like new Mean Green head football coach Seth Littrell, Baker is a young Oklahoma native who views the North Texas job as an opportunity to move closer to home while taking over a program with a high ceiling. Littrell hails from Muskogee, Okla., and played for Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, while Baker is a Valliant, Okla., native that jumped into college sports administration as a basketball operations assistant under Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State.
After leaving Stillwater, Baker became principal and athletics director of the Valliant Public Schools system at age 26 before leaving for Rogers State to become the youngest athletics director in the country at the time.
At North Texas, Baker would inherit a retooling football program and a men’s basketball program that has seen both its attendance and win totals drop following Johnny Jones’ 2012 departure for LSU. The Mean Green finished 245th in the 2015-16 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, second-to-last among FBS institutions. Baker’s first key decision would be whether or not to retain interim AD Hank Dickenson, a quarter-century veteran of the department and candidate for the full-time AD job who is extremely popular both within the department and in the community.
Baker’s basketball background — in addition to his time under Sutton, Baker served as head basketball coach for a season Rogers State, worked closely with the basketball program at Memphis and oversaw the basketball program at Missouri — points to a determinative season for head coach Tony Benford. Benford, 54-73 at North Texas, enters this season in the fifth year of a five-year contract.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.