December 6, 2021 – A 10-member advisory committee has been appointed to work with national sports consulting and search firm Bowlsby Sports Advisors LLC in seeking Northwestern State University’s (NSU) new athletic director. Northwestern president Marcus Jones said the first meeting of advisory committee members with the search firm is scheduled for this week. Greg Burke, who has been athletic director at Northwestern since 1996, requested to be reassigned to a fundraising position at the university and will continue to serve as athletic director during the search for his successor. Dr. Jones said dozens of other Northwestern stakeholders, including alumni, faculty, staff members, former student-athletes, athletic department staff members, donors, community leaders and others have been named to serve on focus groups that will be invited to provide input to the search firm. Dr. Jones said that a new athletic director will likely be selected in six to eight weeks.
The NSU administrative committee serving as the liaison between the university and the national consulting and search firm is comprised of Dr. Jones, VP for external affairs Jerry Pierce and assistant VP for external affairs Drake Owens. Members of the advisory committee are former NSU athletes Kelee Grimes Roddy, Kenny Knotts, Carlos Treadway and Mike Wilburn; Demons Unlimited Foundation president Mike Newton; NSU Foundation president John Manno; NSU VP for student affairs Reatha Cox; NSU provost and vice president for academic affairs Greg Handel; NSU Foundation board member Terry Moore; and NSU Student Government Association president Tja’h Edwards.
The Northwestern State University athletic teams go by the Demons, with women’s athletic teams generally called the Lady Demons. Once a member of the SIAA conference, the school now competes in the Southland Conference.
Bowlsby Sports Advisors works side by side with clients to pair executive search and career development services. Utilizing corporate experience, training and background, Bowlsby Sports Advisors is designed to offer custom long-term recruiting and talent solutions, as well as flexible search fee options to suit each client’s needs. Bowlsby Sports Advisors will focus on three key areas, including:
Career Development: Identify and cultivate internal talent by closely working individually, and in group settings, with staffs and coaches to accelerate career growth.
Executive Search: Pinpoint and recruit elite talent for leading sports organizations and universities, implementing a proven high-touch customized process and strategy modeled after board and CEO searches.
Strategic Consulting: Advise, build, and accelerate key business objectives, revenue generation solutions and leadership initiatives for organizations in professional and intercollegiate sports.
“I have grown up around this industry and care deeply for the organizations, institutions and people in it,” said Kyle Bowlsby, founder and principal. “My goal is to return advisory and search back to its intended purpose, which is not self-promotion, but instead working behind the scenes, helping clients build consensus with their stakeholders, design sophisticated strategies and ultimately make the best decisions for their organizations.”
Mr. Bowlsby has solid experience in the professional sports and intercollegiate athletic industry. Previously, he was with Korn Ferry spearheading business development efforts within intercollegiate athletics. Before that, he oversaw business development for SportsDesk Media (now 4FRONT), a data targeting, management and media delivery platform for the sports and entertainment industries.
Athletic directors are playing an increasingly vital role at colleges and universities across the country. With the expansion of athletic departments and, for the larger schools, the infusion of big dollars for sports, more schools have turned to search firms when such positions become open. Too much is at stake, they feel, to go it alone. What’s more, the AD job has come to demand greater business and management skills than the typical academic search.
“The AD today is the CEO of athletic operations at a college,” said John Lahey, current president at Quinnipiac University. “Thirty to 40 years ago, you were more likely to see former coaches and athletes promoted into those roles as a way of rewarding success or longevity, but now you need a business-person who is able to lead people, generate revenue and understand how the marketing and brand of athletics can impact the entire university.”
Bill Lennox, president at St. Leo University in Florida, said schools must make sure that the AD is a senior member of the entire university staff. “We moved the AD to the equivalent level of a vice president, so he sat in all of the meetings and in the decision-making process with the rest of the VPs of the university,” he said.
The modern AD position oversees finances, marketing, human resources, student-athlete wellness, media contracts, and of course overall performance – all while salaries head well into seven figures and beyond.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media