January 17, 2017 – Executive search firm Collegiate Sports Associates (CSA) has been tapped by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) to lead its search for a new athletic director. Current AD Tina Kunzer-Murphy is stepping down from her post in June. Nancy Rapoport, special counsel to UNLV president Len Jessup, will serve as chairwoman of the search committee. UNLV will pay CSA $75,000 as well as any expenses directly related to the search, according to UNLV sources.
“Collegiate Sports Associates is a national leader with expertise coordinating broad, thorough searches that draw diverse pools of candidates with deep NCAA and Power Five experience,” said Mr. Jessup. “They’ve led successful searches at the highest levels of college athletics, and we believe they’ll help us identify candidates who can move UNLV athletics to the next level.”
The goal in going to an external search vendor, said Ms. Rapoport, is an open search, with national reach, proper feedback and “the opportunity for the president to choose the person who’s going to be right for us.”
UNLV supports varsity teams in 17 different sports. The school is a founding member of the Mountain West Conference, in the NCAA’s Division I. It is most known for its men’s basketball program. Made famous by Coach Jerry Tarkanian in the 1970s–1990s, the Runnin’ Rebels are the third most winning team in Division I basketball history by percentage.
Collegiate Sports serves the recruiting needs of 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.
The firm is led by former longtime athletic director Todd Turner who has recruited professionals for a number of top university athletics programs, including those found at 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.
Universities Turning to Recruiters for AD Talent
UNLV is just one of an expanding number of schools turning to executive search firms to find athletics directors. Here’s a sampling of recent assignments from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:
- Parker Executive Search placed John Cohen as the 17th director of athletics at Mississippi State University (MSU). The firm also recruited David Benedict as athletic director at the University of Connecticut; Mark Jackson as director of athletics at Villanova University; and Jennifer Cohen as the new AD of the University of Washington (UW). A UW spokesperson said the school paid the search firm $105,000 for its role in generating leading candidates and seeing the search process through to completion.
- Turnkey Search placed Todd Stansbury as athletic director for Georgia Tech. The search was led by senior executive director Gene DeFilippo, a former athletic director at Boston College, Villanova and University of Kentucky, along with Len Perna, founder, president and chief executive officer of Turnkey Search. Turnkey Search also recruited Mark Coyle as director of athletics at the University of Minnesota. The University paid Turnkey Search $150,000 plus expenses to recruit and vet candidates for the position.
- DHR International recruited an insider, Jeffrey Schulman, as athletic director at the University of Vermont (UVM). The firm was said to have been paid $75,000 to look for, vet and present candidates to UVM, along with another $9,000 for indirect costs and reimbursements of over $30,000 for advertising placements and traveling. Mr. Schulman is currently in his 12th year as senior associate athletic director at UVM.
- Brill Neumann Associates placed pro football hall of fame wide receiver and USC alumnus Lynn Swann as athletic director of the University of Southern California (USC). Pat Haden retired from the post, ending his guidance of the Trojans through a tumultuous period in the school’s history.
- Korn Ferry, the nation’s largest search firm, placed Josh Whitman as athletics director for the University of Illinois. The University is said to have paid Korn Ferry$140,000 for its work on the search.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media