January 24, 2017 – Executive search firm Eastman & Beaudine has been retained by the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) to lead its search for a new athletic director. Past AD Bill McGillis left the school to take on the executive director of athletics role at the University of San Diego.
According to USM’s chief communication officer Jim Coll, USM president Rodney Bennett has been forming an interview committee to assist with the vetting of candidates for the position. The committee will represent various USM constituencies, all of whom are familiar with the university and knowledgeable of the qualities a director of athletics must possess for Southern Miss to lead a winning program.
“The search has attracted a broad and strong applicant pool, as the position is proving to be a desirable opportunity,” said Mr. Coll. “The university’s recent championships on the playing fields, the successes of student-athletes and coaches and established university leadership are all proving to be positive factors in the current search.”
Mr. Bennett said he is confident that the best days for The University of Southern Mississippi and Southern Miss athletics lie ahead. “Our coaches are among the most dedicated and hard working in the country, and our student-athletes continue to make us proud on the playing fields and in the classroom. I expect that our new director of athletics will be instrumental in continuing Southern Miss athletics’ legacy of success.”
Southern Miss has a long history in the NCAA, and its intercollegiate sports teams operate under the auspices of the university’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics sponsors. Bowl games, conference championships, and All-American athletes have all been frequent occurrences at Southern Miss. Among notable alumni is former NFL quarterback Brett Favre and former NFL punter Ray Guy.
The Search Firm
For over 40 years, Eastman & Beaudine has been a leader in executive searches among sports, entertainment & business clients seeking direction, assessment and counsel to build their senior leadership teams. The firm is led by Bob Beaudine, who has helped shape the leadership teams for the NBA, Major League Baseball, the PGATour, Arena Football, the U.S. Olympics, NASCAR, Professional Bull Riders, Horse Racing, and Ultimate Fighting Championships. He was recently named to the board of directors for the Texas Rangers and he sits on the advisory board of directors for the College Football Assistance Fund and Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business.
“Bob Beaudine challenges you to think differently. His unique approach to life and business has helped elevate many careers,” said Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, in a past interview.
Eastman & Beaudine has conducted numerous assignments to find head football or basketball coaches for a number of universities, including the University of Missouri, Arizona State, Clemson, the University of Mississippi, Texas Tech and other top college sports programs. Mr. Beaudine recently helped with the placement of new athletic directors at Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss and the University of Alaska, as well as top executives with the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks.
AD Searches On the Rise
Southern Miss is just one of an expanding number of schools turning to executive search firms to find athletics directors.
Collegiate Sports Associates (CSA) was recently tapped by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) to lead its search for a new athletic director. UNLV will pay CSA $75,000 as well as any expenses directly related to the search, according to UNLV sources. Collegiate Sports serves the recruiting needs of athletics programs at NCAA Division I universities and conferences across the U.S.
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.
Parker Executive Search placed John Cohen as the 17th director of athletics at Mississippi State University (MSU). Parker conducts executive searches for corporations, colleges & universities, and collegiate athletics. Its sports practice represents clients conducting searches for positions ranging from president/CEO, EVP/SVP/general manager, and executive director to conference commissioner, athletic director, head coach, and assistant coach, among others. The firm recently recruited David Benedict as athletic director at the Universtiy of Connecticut. It also placed Mark Jackson as director of athletics at Villanova University as well as Jennifer Cohen as the new AD of the University of Washington (UW).
Turnkey Search placed Todd Stansbury as the new 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. Over the past year, Turnkey has completed numerous athletic director searches for clients, including the University of Michigan, Bowling Green State University and Grand Valley State University.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media