Laura Herron can handle the meetings and management responsibilities that come with her job as the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's interim athletic director. Giving speeches, she said, is another matter.
"While I don't enjoy public speaking, I do enjoy getting out and meeting people," she said.
Herron joined UTC as an athletic trainer 19 years ago. She worked her way up and up the department ladder to her current role, senior associate athletic director for compliance and administration/senior woman administrator.
After years of being mostly behind the scenes, she was named interim athletic director by then-chancellor Roger Brown when Rick Hart left for Southern Methodist University in July.
"I was very comfortable being in the background, being a details person. Now being the face has been a big adjustment," Herron said.
It has been more than four months since she took over for Hart. She has remained in her office and not taken over the more spacious athletic director's digs next door. And it could be at least another four months before UTC hires a full-time athletic director.
In August UTC hired the search firm of Collegiate Sports Associates, and a search committee is in place, but the search was suspended in September when Brown retired. The search will resume once a new chancellor is hired. Grady Bogue is UTC's interim chancellor.
"It looks like it's going to be in the spring," Herron said. "I'll still serve until the new AD gets here, so I'm looking at probably the whole [spring] semester."
Herron still has to handle most of her previous duties, as well as all of the athletic director's affairs. She said she's received a lot of help from associate ADs Matthew Pope and Andrew Horton.
Hart said the challenges he's facing at SMU are largely the same as those he faced in his six years at UTC, only in a larger city (Dallas) and on a larger stage. Hart said he's spoken to Herron several times since he left.
"We spoke pretty regularly for the first month or two and a little less frequently lately," he said. "More than anything just to tell her how proud I am of her and offer some encouragement."
Herron is at the helm during an interesting time for the Southern Conference. Last Friday the College of Charleston voted to leave for the Colonial Athletic Association, and Georgia Southern and Appalachian State may be on the move sooner rather than later.
The past four months have confirmed for Herron that she would one day like to be an athletic director (she is not a candidate for the UTC job), but they've also shown her that she has much to learn.
"From the training room and then into compliance, I've never really dealt with budgets and fundraising and stuff," she said, "and I realize that's something I need to gain experience in if I want to be an AD."
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.