June 3, 2020 – Universities continue to turn to executive search firms to find new athletic directors. Todd Turner of Collegiate Sports Associates has assisted in the placement of Karen Yoder as the director of athletics for California State University Maritime Academy (Cal Maritime). She will succeed retiring athletic director Marv Christopher to oversee the academy’s intercollegiate and intramural athletic programs (NAIA). Ms. Yoder starts her new role on July 1.
“Karen Yoder’s experience in working collaboratively to develop and implement strategic plans will be an invaluable skill in leading our athletic program,” said Tom Cropper, president of Cal Maritime. “Our further growth and success in fully developing our student athletes both on and off the field requires someone with her knowledge and understanding.”
Ms. Yoder has served as an administrator, instructor and coach with more than 20 years of experience at all competitive levels. She is also a former collegiate and professional athlete and was most recently the athletic director at Mission Community College in Santa Clara, CA. Before that, Ms. Yoder spent 24 years at the Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA, community college and high school levels. She has a combined 19 years of teaching experience as a kinesiology/physical education instructor at UC Davis (2004-18), Calistoga Elementary (2017-18), Diablo Valley College (2014-16), Napa Valley College (2002-04) and Cal State Hayward (1997-2000).
Ms. Yoder brings to Cal Maritime her personal philosophy to serve the educational and personal development of all students. “She strives to create a student athlete environment with an inclusive culture that includes an equity-minded approach that respects each individual student athlete,” the school said. “Ms. Yoder also strongly identifies with Cal Maritime’s emphasis on student leadership development. She views athletics at all levels as providing a key platform in preparing students for the mental and physical challenges that encompass leadership development.”
Established in 1929, California State University Maritime Academy is the only degree-granting maritime academy on the West Coast. Located in Vallejo, CA, the campus serves about 1,200 students and offers undergraduate degrees preparing students for careers in engineering, transportation, international relations, business and global logistics. Cal Maritime also offers a master’s degree in transportation and engineering management, as well as a number of extended learning programs and courses.
Collegiate Sports Associates helps recruit talent for athletics programs at NCAA Division I universities and conferences across the U.S. The firm’s network of associates includes current and former Division I athletics directors and other senior university and conference officials, including commissioners, presidents, faculty athletics representatives, coaches and associate athletics directors.
Collegiate Sports Associates Finds AD for Ole Miss
Todd Turner of Collegiate Sports Associates has helped the University of Mississippi in the appointment of internal candidate Keith Carter as the school’s new athletic director. Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce said the search firm, which provided a deep and diverse pool of candidates, “developed a criterion for us based on the input that we received and their experience in conducting many athletics director searches.”
The search firm is led by former longtime athletic director Mr. Turner, who has recruited professionals for a number of top university athletics programs. These include: University of Missouri, Kansas State University, Longwood University, University of Missouri, University of New Mexico, Northern Illinois University, University of Oklahoma, Old Dominion University, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest University and Winthrop University.
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