PowerMizzou - Rhoades talks in KC
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Rhoades talks in KC

BORDER REVIVAL? One of the most frequent questions lofted to Mack Rhoades 17 days into his athletic director tenure concerns the now-dormant rivalry between Missouri and Kansas.
"I hope we can," Rhoades said. "I really do. Certainly it's been a great rivalry and people that miss out on it the most are our fans and student athletes and coaches, so I'm hopeful. I've had preliminary conversations with Sheahon (Zenger, KU's athletic director) and certainly need to have many more, and we'll follow up and do that.
"Because we haven't played, or we haven't been on each other's schedule, they've gone their own way in terms of scheduling, and so have we, so there would be some hurdles we need to get over in terms of when, if we decide to play again, when we could actually do that.
"Certainly in the future I think we should play them in every sport and I hope we can do that."
Rhoades agreed with the sentiment that it may be easier to re-ignite the rivalry in basketball rather than football. He, however, painted a rosier picture than a column in the Kansas City Star where Kansas boosters intimated that a rivalry revival could be a fireable offense.
"I don't really have a comment on that," Rhoades said. "Certainly, being on the job for 17 days and trying to understand the background and -- look, I get it. They're are hard feelings in terms of Missouri going to the SEC and I'll say this: We'll always do what's best for Missouri.
"People at the time, and I certainly think so now, the best decision for the University of Missouri and Mizzou athletics was to go to the SEC."
During a question-and-answer session with fans in attendance at the Westport Flea Market, the Kansas question came up again -- this time, met more with boos and hisses from Missouri fans.
Rhoades, ever a diplomat, made sure to play both angles, re-hashing what he told reporters earlier before adding a joke:
"As athletic director, I'm 2-0 against Kansas," Rhoades said, citing Missouri's wins over Kansas last weekend in softball. "So we're not playing them anymore."
RHOADES GETTING ADJUSTED: Rhoades made sure to mention the length of time he's been the point man for Missouri athletics -- 17 days and counting -- on Wednesday. But, already, he's made big strides in one of his goals.
When he was hired, Rhoades said he wanted to sit down and talk personally with each and every coach, assistant coach and staff member in the athletic department.
"We have 285 staff members, family members," Rhoades said. "I made a comment that I want to meet with each and every one of them. So far, I think maybe as I look back, I've met with about 50, and certainly every head coach I've met with and every member of our executive team, our leadership team, been able to do that.
"Hopefully by the time summer ends, sometime before September 1 I'll have a chance to meet with everybody else."
Rhoades reiterated that he met with the head coaches as a group and in individual settings at this point.
RHOADES' RIGHT-HAND MAN: Missouri announced the hire of Wren Baker on Wednesday to become the deputy athletic director. Baker comes from Memphis as the Tigers' deputy director of athletics/external affairs, and he also was the athletic director at Northwest Missouri State between 2011-2013.
"He's got great experience, in terms of -- you know, he's been an AD, even though it was at the Division II level, you still sat in that chair and had to make tough decisions and had to lead a lot of people," Rhoades said. "So I think he brings great leadership, great passion for our student athletes.
"Certainly has a tremendous background with the external side of athletics, the ticket sales, the fundraising, the communications, the licensing and merchandise, all of those different areas. That will be his focus really immediately, to really look at our external operations."
PowerMizzou.com also did a Q&A with Baker that you can find HERE.
NOTES, QUOTES: Rhoades said Missouri's facilities need upgrades across the board, and said it will be about a $150 million campaign over all sports... He specifically addressed baseball, saying "If we're going to be great in baseball, we have to address our baseball facility." Rhoades called the SEC the best baseball conference ... Rhoades drew a distinction between winning teams and winning programs. He said he wants to develop winning programs, because that's more sustainable ... Rhoades also called the first year of the SEC Network a huge success, saying that you couldn't write a better script: "Better than the Big 10 Network, certainly better than the Longhorn Network." ... Rhoades wants to increase the donor base for Missouri's athletic department, citing how Missouri operates in bottom third of the SEC in terms of funding. But, he said that's no excuse for not developing winning programs: "We can do more with less by working harder and working smarter."