Binghamton University moved one step closer to finding its next athletic director Wednesday after the school released the names of three finalists for the position.

The candidates, who were selected from a field of approximately 40 applicants, have been invited for on-campus interviews scheduled Sept. 19-21.

The search began after athletic director Jim Norris announced his plan to retire at the end of the fall 2011 semester. Following the resignation of former athletic director Joel Thirer, Norris was promoted from senior associate athletic director to interim athletic director in September 2009.

The selection was made by an 11-member search committee whose formation was announced by President C. Peter Magrath in mid-June.

Michael F. McGoff, vice provost for strategic and fiscal planning, is the committee’s appointed chairman.

Two of the candidates are current Division I athletics directors: Tom Brennan of LaSalle University and Patrick Elliot of St. Peter’s College. The third, Eric Roedel, is the deputy athletic director at Temple University.

“The candidates kind of sorted themselves out,” Norris said.

The field was cut to three after the committee interviewed six finalists in Syracuse last weekend.

“When eventually one of them accepts the job, I know that I’ve turned the program over to a very capable athletic director that will be able to continue to build on what we’ve built and will continue to move forward,” Norris said.

As part of their scheduled on-campus visits, the candidates will meet with a wide array of people including head coaches, student athletes, athletics management staff, faculty leaders and deans.

“I’m as or more concerned with making sure we don’t hire the wrong person as I am with making sure we hire the right person,” Norris said of the three candidates. “But without hesitation, the three finalists would have my 100 percent support and endorsement. We’ve got three top-notch finalists.”

The 11-member committee, of which Norris was a member in non-voting capacity, is composed of representatives for student-athletes, faculty and coaches.

Julie Chambers, a senior member of Binghamton’s volleyball team, represented student-athletes on the committee as president of the Student Athletes Advisory Committee (SAAC).

“What struck me about the committee itself was that we had a great cross section, and everybody had one common agenda [in looking to] hire the best athletic director for Binghamton University,” Norris said. “We delivered three very top-notch candidates for the entire campus to get a look at.”

Norris spent more than two years rebuilding a Division I program in upheaval, working to re-establish the department’s damaged reputation. Prior to the start of the 2009-10 season, less than one year removed from its first NCAA tournament appearance, Binghamton’s men’s basketball program crumbled. The release of six players for both unlawful actions and behavioral issues, the resignation of Thirer and the suspension of then-head coach Kevin Broadus led to both an in-house and NCAA investigation. These blemishes to the reputation of the University’s young program put the athletics department back at square one.

In the two years since Norris was appointed athletic director, the department revamped its image and restructured its game plan, not only for the men’s basketball team, but for the department as a whole.

Norris will officially step down in December. University President C. Peter Magrath will make the final decision regarding the department’s next director.

Norris said he believes the candidates’ desires to become a part the Bearcat community highlight his and the University’s efforts in rebuilding its program.

“It speaks volumes about the community, the University and the athletic department,” he said. “We’ve got tremendous staff in place, we’ve got great facilities and if they’re not already built they’re being built. The potential is really unlimited as to where we can go and where we can get to.”