Candidate big on first impressions

By Clarence Plank: Freedom New Mexico

PORTALES — First impressions are important. Wayne Baker knows that.

Just in case he didn’t, a coach he hopes to work with reminded him.

“You’ll be surprised the number of recruits that come in the evening,” Eastern New Mexico University baseball coach Phil Clabaugh said, “and (you’ll) go get them for breakfast and they’re gone.”

Baker, the current executive director of the National Junior College Athletic Association, is the last of four candidates interviewed to fill the soon-to-be-vacant athletic director slot at the Division II college.

Baker, a former associate director of the NJCAA for 10 years, said he had been to ENMU nearly two decades ago for a sporting event, and said then and now the university is much better at first sight than many comparable schools.

But improvement is always possible.

“When you’re recruiting a student from Dallas, Albuquerque or Houston,” he said, “the first impressions are important.”

Baker said he hopes to incorporate what he’s found to be successful at his current position, where he has been since 2004.

“For the last five years as executive director, I followed the Division II model,”