June 18, 2018 – Executive search firm Eastman & Beaudine has been retained by the University of South Florida (USF) to lead its search for a new athletic director. Scott Kull, USF’s deputy athletic director for external operations, has been named interim AD while the school looks to replace Mark Harlan, who recently stepped down.
“USF Athletics has gained tremendous momentum over the past several years in both competition and student success,” said Judy Genshaft, University of South Florida System president. “Our next director of athletics will be a transformative leader who is driven by professional integrity, possesses strong experience and is skilled in building relationships and connecting with key stakeholders across the national collegiate athletic landscape.”
Ms. Genshaft described the University of South Florida as being at a critical juncture in its history. “Reaching new heights in academic achievements, research productivity, community collaboration and global influence, the university needs a leader who can similarly elevate USF Athletics and position the program for national excellence,” she said.
USF paid Eastman & Beaudine $100,000 for the eight-week search that led to Mr. Harlan’s hiring in 2014.
USF was admitted into the NCAA in 1968, and currently competes at the NCAA Division I level. There are nearly 500 student-athletes competing for the university each academic year. The school sponsors 17 varsity men’s and women’s sports.
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.
Sports and Entertainment Expansion Elevating Search Business
Over the last quarter century, the sports sector has grown into a formidable global industry. Historically, professional sports teams operated on a relatively modest level, with league officials, team owners, managers, and coaches surrounding themselves with people they knew and trusted from their own small worlds. College sports teams relied on in-house search committees and word-of-mouth recommendations. Much of that has forever changed.
Teams with tremendous followings like the Dallas Cowboys, Real Madrid and Manchester United have seen their valuations soar into the billions of dollars. That’s attracted search firms – big time. Seasoned recruiters now provide strategic planning advice, in addition to talent identification services, with the capability of applying their findings to speed along the process in the hunt for talent. Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.
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.
SRi, an international executive search firm focused on the sports, media and entertainment sectors, recently published a report on how the modern day AD serves more as a CEO-type function than as a coaching figurehead. SRi recently spoke with several university presidents on this topic.
“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, said SRi.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media