When Dr. Chris Hill first became a top candidate to replace Jim Copeland as University of Utah athletic director last fall, it was speculated that, if he got the position, he would try to bring Salt Lake Golden Eagles' general manager Marc Amicone, a former Ute baseball player, to his administration.
The Deseret News has learned that Amicone, a 31-year-old Utah native and two-time International Hockey League Executive of the Year whose club has just won back-to-back Turner Cup championships, will leave the Eagles next week to become the U.'s athletic marketing and promotions director."We're excited to have someone of Marc's ability and talent join our staff," said Hill, who's vacationing in New Jersey, in a telephone statement. "Marc has great experience in the area of marketing and promotion and will be a big asset to the University of Utah."
"I see it as a good opportunity," said Amicone. "I've been a Ute at heart for a long time, and it's someplace I wanted to work when I first graduated from college, but Chuck (former Eagle general manager Schell) and Art (owner Teece) offered me a good opportunity and took care of me with my internship."
Amicone is in his 10th year with the Eagles. He interned for them in 1979-80 during his senior year at Utah as a Recreation Management major. He likes to point out he was all-WAC second baseman that year, too.
"You always feel bad when someone who's been with you that long leaves," said Teece, who's already enlisted the Calgary Flames' help in finding a new general manager, "and I feel flattered to think we've had something to do with Marc's being considered for the (Utah) job."
Teece said that Amicone will continue to help the Eagles work out their 1988-89 schedule, which can't be completed until the NBA announces its schedule.
"He's the one I trust to see we get the best schedule possible," said Teece, who credited Amicone's playoff scheduling tenacity in the face of opposition from other teams for helping the Eagles to win their second straight Turner Cup last month. He fought to have economical 2-3-2 series formats and to have the dates spread apart rather than playing two or three in a row, which would have worked in other teams' favor regarding weekend dates and by tiring the Eagles' one-man goaltending crew.
That's the reason Teece nominated Amicone as IHL Exec of the Year last Thursday at the league meetings, and he won the voting. In 1987, Teece and Amicone shared the IHL honor for their efforts in helping the league upgrade by convincing National Hockey League clubs to move their No. 1 farm clubs from the American League to the IHL. The league had six No. 1 affiliations last season and will have seven next season. "Marc had tremendous impact helping me get the IHL changed around," Teece said.
The Utah marketing position was taken over for a few days in late May by Dave Allred of the Utah Jazz. Allred then resigned to return to the Jazz, and Amicone was chosen soon after he returned from vacation.
His name had surfaced several times over the past 10 months in rumors about U. of Utah jobs. He and Hill have been friends for more than 12 years.
"There are very few things I'd leave here to do," Amicone said of the Eagles, citing a father-son relationship with Teece that was the hardest thing for him to resolve in contemplating the Utah job. "He's been super," he said.
Amicone said his reason for making the move, beyond his Ute roots, is because he wants to stay in Utah and that opportunities to advance in professional sports, particularly hockey, would necessitate a move out of state.
"Professionally, it's what I want to do," he said. "I see a lot in my future, and it goes along with my heart being up there. They seem to be taking an aggressive stance, and I want to have some part in (Utah) having a nationally respectable program."
Also, the Eagles are in their best financial shape since the Central League folded four years ago, and they've just won back-to-back championships and have similar prospects for next year, so Amicone can comfortably exit without feeling he'd leave them wanting.
"I think the team has turned in the right direction," Amicone said of the Eagles. "They're on solid footing. I hope I've had some part in it."
Amicone has been general manager for the past two seasons. He was named assistant general manager on May 1, 1985, when Teece resumed the GM title after dismissing Schell. A year later, Teece stepped down and named a surprised Amicone GM in an April 3, 1986, news conference.
Amicone served as sales director from the Adams Cup Central League championship era of 1980-81.
He is a 1975 Granger High School graduate. He attended Utah on academic and athletic scholarships after first accepting an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy and then leaving because of a desire to play baseball and practice year-round.
Amicone and wife Mary Kay, who was a Utah softball player, have one son, Trevor.