Cardinal Grange Retained by Stephen F. Austin State University to Lead AD Search

April 4, 2024 – Stephen F. Austin State University has hired search firm Cardinal Grange to lead in its search for a new athletic director. The school has also formed an in-house committee to work alongside Cardinal Grange during the recruitment process. “The decision means that Stephen F. Austin will benefit from the leadership and vision of Cardinal Grange’s Jim Nichols, who has over 20 years of NCAA coaching and athletic administration experience,” the school said in a statement.

“I’m extremely proud of the team we’ve built at Cardinal Grange and the opportunity to serve Stephen F. Austin State University at this important time for their athletic program,” said Mr. Nichols. “We know what it takes to build championship teams from the ground up, and we have the right expertise and network to identify the best candidates for Stephen F. Austin.”

Mr. Nichols has surrounded himself with a great team of consultants, including Jim Boeheim, former head basketball coach at Syracuse University and NCAA Hall of Famer; Tim McMurray, with over 30 years of experience in athletics administration at the NCAA Division I and II levels; Kelley Deyo, former Notre Dame women’s basketball national champion and former WNBA player; and Alfred White, an industry veteran with 15 years of experience with the NCAA.

“SFA is excited to engage Cardinal Grange in the search for its next athletics director,” Damon Derrick, vice president and general counsel for Stephen F. Austin State University. “We are confident in their ability to help us find the next leader of the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks!”

Stephen F. Austin State University Stephen F. Austin State University is a public university in Nacogdoches, TX. It was founded as a teachers’ college in 1923 and subsequently renamed after one of Texas’s founding fathers, Stephen F. Austin.

Related: TurnkeyZRG Recruits Director of Athletic for the University of Iowa

The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks and Ladyjacks are composed of 16 teams representing Stephen F. Austin State University in intercollegiate athletics. Stephen F. Austin teams participate in the Division I as a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), having joined that conference on July 1, 2021.

Recruiting Athletic Directors

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 at 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.

Related: Collegiate Sports Associates Assists Louisville with Athletic Director Search

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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