By Austin Arceo
TERRE HAUTE — Former Indiana State University basketball star Eddie Bird is coming back to Terre Haute to run the city Parks and Recreation Department.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Board during a special meeting Wednesday approved Bird to become the new superintendent of the department. Mayor Duke Bennett had forwarded Bird’s name for consideration. All four board members individually talked with the prospective superintendent before the vote and seemed pleased with him as a candidate.
“I liked his background,” Parks Board vice president Richard Shagley said after the vote. “He’s got some experience” with Department of Natural Resources and Indianapolis Parks Department “and to be able to work with those type of entities will help him do his job here in Terre Haute.”
Shagley said that talking with Bird helped cement his decision to approve the new superintendent.
“We don’t want to bring anybody in that is against the direction where we’re going …,” Shagley said.
Bird, brother of NBA great and Pacers president Larry Bird, has worked for the Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Natural Resources and most recently with the Indiana Pacers, according to a city-issued press release.
Bird earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation management from Indiana State University. He played basketball for the Sycamores from 1988 to 1991.
With Bird’s combination of parks, recreation and sports management, along with his education in recreation management, Bennett sees him as an asset to the Parks Department and Terre Haute, the mayor said in the release.
Bennett said after the vote Wednesday that Bird met the requirements needed for the job.
“… I’m interviewing people and looking for people who have good customer service skills, and they know that that’s one of my goals, is to make sure that we’re doing those kind of things that serve the public,” Bennett said, “and there were several applicants, and you just weed that down, and I just felt best like he was the one who fit that mold.”
Bennett previously said that about a dozen people applied for the position, though he thought only eight or nine were qualified. He said that state statute outlines the qualifications for a department superintendent.
He said Wednesday evening that he wasn’t sure of Bird’s start date, although he expected it within the next two weeks.
Parks Board president John L. Wright cited Bird’s experience, leadership skills and ideas for the Parks Department as among the reasons he was pleased with the selection.
Bird could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
Known as “Eddie” Bird, Bird scored the fifth-highest point total for a basketball player at ISU. He ranks second all-time in career three-point field goals made.
Austin Arceo can be reached at (812) 231-4214 or email@example.com.