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UNF Athletic Department shakeup; 6 positions vacant

UNF Athletic Director Lee Moon said he has taken another step towards improving UNF’s athletic program by replacing several members of his support staff.

In the month of the May the UNF athletics development and media relations departments’ staff were released or moved on to new jobs. The departing employees include Shawn Lafata, Media Relations assistants Adam Johnson and Eric Scott, Development officers Trevor Stanton and Rick Grainger, and Director of Marketing Elliot Darkatsh.

The moves have left what former UNF Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations Shawn Lafata, said is a gaping hole in the athletic department.

“Without any of these people it’s hard to make progress,” said Lafata.  “There’s nobody to raise any money for athletics and UNF is pretty much in a black hole from a PR perspective.”

With several key positions currently unoccupied in the athletics department a majority of the burden of important off-season duties falls on Moon.  Lafata said that there are several key issues that the athletic department is currently facing including a highly disputed radio contract and a never-ending public relations battle.

However, Moon feels fortunate the openings came at the best time possible and that he has strong support from several people, especially his wife, Moon said.

“He’s been around the block more than a few times,’ said Lafata.  “He’s secured several big donations and rebuilt programs in the past. Who knows what he’s capable of?”

The change in staff is just the latest big move for UNF athletics since Moon’s arrival. Since his arrival in February, Moon has replaced the staff of the Men’s Basketball team, whose success, Moon has said, is essential to the expansion of UNF athletics.

Moon has already begun with the process of replacing these positions and has already found one “great acquisition”, he said.

Moon announced he hired Jeff Wuerth as the new Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations May 28.  Wuerth comes to UNF from the University of South Florida, where he oversaw all the communications needs for the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs, in addition to various duties with the school’s athletics website and football team.

He has over 15 years of experience in media relations, including work at both Division I and professional levels, coordinating opening rounds of the 2008 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, directing public relations for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer and worked in media relations for the 2008 and 2009 Outback Bowls and the 2009 WNBA Draft.

“Jeff brings a lot of experience to the table that UNF can really benefit from in the future,” he said.

Although Moon is eager to welcome Wuerth on board, he said there is still a lot of work to do before the other vacancies are filled.  The athletics department is in the early process of advertising and selecting search committees to fill the remaining vacancies, Moon said.

Along with filling the vacancies Moon said the athletics department is in the process of reallocating finances in order to open up new positions, and is currently working on reevaluating different job duties and descriptions.

Although Moon is not finished clarifying the new positions, he is currently planning on creating a position for an Assistant Athletics Director for Field Operations and an Athletic Ticket Director, both positions will be a UNF first.

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