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Pollock: Once again, Barb Questa to the rescue for St. Bonaventure in the NIT and AD saga

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A column by CHUCK POLLOCK, Sun Senior Sports Columnist

Barb Questa can forgiven for thinking, “I feel like I’ve been here before … and before … and before …

Questa, nee Hick, on Monday, along with Ryan Clingan, were named co-Directors of Athletics at St. Bonaventure in the aftermath of Joe Manhertz’s resignation from the AD job on Friday.

Manhertz, for paperwork purposes, resigned … but if you’re a betting person, you can probably get 50-50 odds he was handed a pink slip.

The reason was his role in the NIT bid fiasco in which he contacted the selection committee and asked it not consider St. Bonaventure’s basketball team due to injury and roster shortage. His plan apparently, was to pretend Bona didn’t get a bid and move merrily along. But, alas, ESPN incorrectly reported that SBU was one of 17 teams to reject an NIT bid.

Now Manhertz’s cover was blown in the face of overwhelming backlash from alumni and fans. He had to admit asking the school not be considered rather than having it appear Bona was so arrogant it rejected a bid to a tournament in which it had made the semifinals only two years ago.

His part in the seeming cover-up was exacerbated by his revelation to a group of mass media students that he had no understanding how married St. Bonaventure’s alumni and fans were to the school’s history in the NIT.

The incident was so fundamentally embarrassing, it makes me wonder how much Bona’s search committee vetted this guy while searching for Tim Kenney’s  replacement.

We know this, even as Manhertz had one foot in the door, his other one was out. Barely a year into his tenure he was investigating the AD job at Colgate, his alma mater, and as recently as last month had his name in UNC-Wilmington’s search for the same job.

Meanwhile, he made the school which hired him 18 months ago the butt of jokes.

One long-time friend and Bona alum told me, “St. Bonaventure doesn’t merely have egg on its face … it has the whole omelet.”

Another fan posted, “Joe Manhertz didn’t resign … he just entered the transfer portal.”

AND AS soon as his exit was announced, I knew exactly what was going to happen.

Questa was going to be named for her sixth stint as interim AD. I don’t know Clingan, he was only hired last fall. But I do know Bona’s Executive Deputy Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator functioned just fine in her first five interim stints without a “co.”

Admittedly, I’m prejudiced. I met Barb 33 years ago, in 1991, when she was hired. And while I didn’t know her well back then, that changed in the winter of 2003 during the Bob Wichenheiser/Jamil Terrell welding scandal.

As the stench of the admission issue swept the University, a gutless president and a group of administrators in full CYA mode, needed a scapegoat.

Who better than the woman in charge of compliance, Barb Questa?

After all, she was in charge of which athletes were admitted, so she had to be totally at fault. Trouble is, from the very beginning she confided in me that she had told Wickenheiser and coach Jan van Breda  Kolff and his staff that while Terrell could transfer to Bona, he was absolutely ineligible to play that season.

And, to their embarrassment, too many members of the Western New York sports media bought Bona administration’s claim that it was a “compliance issue.”

I was the only one who came to her defense and pointed out it was actually Questa who tried to save Wickenheiser and the basketball coaching staff from themselves.

Eventually and rightfully, she was exonerated and the president, basketball coaching staff and athletic director all lost their jobs.

NOW HERE’s Questa beginning her sixth stint as interim AD.

And it begs this question. 

St. Bonaventure’s administration clearly trusts her and knows she can do the job. So why hasn’t Questa been offered the full-time AD position? Is it because she’s a woman, knows where the skeletons are buried or isn’t intimidated by confronting a male staffer?

Fact is, I’ve never asked her whether she’s interested in the job … it’s highly likely she isn’t. But I know this, her ability to do it — with the possible exception of fundraising — would put Joe Manhertz to shame.

Instead, the hunt for a new athletic director supposedly has already begun, the only phrase missing from the press release was the ever-popular  “national search” … no mention of within the Reilly Center.

(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at cpollock@wnynet.net.)

The authority on the Bills and Bonnies, read more from Chuck:

Bona’s Manhertz’s self-inflicted NIT embarrassment ended his tenure

• St. Bonaventure made every excuse to skip the NIT except the eclipse

• A look at the current Bona player situation and how it relates to the past

• The Buffalo Bills have had darker days with cuts during off-season

• Caitlin Clark brings up memories of St. Bonaventure women and men’s basketball players

• St. Bonaventure primed for strong finish in Atlantic 10

• Feature on the Bonnies as the season winds down

• What to make from the Super Bowl

• A look at free agency with the Buffalo Bills

• Don’t blame Bass for the playoff loss

• St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt was right about the Atlantic 10 and the Bonnies

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