PAC-12 Conference Taps TurnkeyZRG to Lead Commissioner Search

February 9, 2021 – The PAC-12 Conference has selected TurnkeyZRG to support the conference in the search for its next commissioner. The PAC-12 announced on Jan. 20 that its governing executive committee, its presidents, and commissioner Larry Scott mutually agreed that the current commissioner would not seek a new contract following an 11-year tenure. Mr. Scott agreed to continue in the role until June 30 to assist with the transition.

“The PAC-12 represents world-leading member universities whose commitment to academic and athletic excellence have made us the ‘Conference of Champions,’” said Michael Schill, PAC-12 CEO group chair and president of University of Oregon. “We have seen remarkable growth over the past many years and are poised for future success on behalf of our more than 7,000 student athletes. We have tremendous confidence in TurnkeyZRG to assist us in conducting the extensive, inclusive, and innovative search process they’re known for. We’re looking forward to identifying a highly accomplished and diverse pool of candidates from which to select our next commissioner.”

The PAC-12 Conference comprises 12 leading U.S. universities: The University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, the University of Washington and Washington State University.

Collectively, the members of TurnkeyZRG have placed coaches and athletics directors at many Pac-12 universities, including Arizona, Cal, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, and Washington State. In December, TurnkeyZRG completed the ACC search, helping the ACC hire its next commissioner, James J. Phillips, the Combe Family vice president for athletics and recreation at Northwestern University. TurnkeyZRG spoke with stakeholders across the ACC in developing the job description, and assembled a diverse array of candidates across sports, education, business and government.

“Jim is one of the most talented athletic administrators in the country and uniquely qualified to successfully and seamlessly take over the helm of the ACC,” said ACC board chair Kent Syverud (Syracuse University). “Over the course of nearly 13 years, Jim has elevated and cemented Northwestern’s position as an outstanding Power 5 athletics program. Northwestern’s ascension in the world of intercollegiate athletics is a testament to Jim’s vision, leadership, and foundational dedication to the success of student athletes. The ACC is fortunate to have someone of Jim’s caliber and integrity lead the conference at this pivotal moment in intercollegiate athletics.”

Recently Acquired

Two weeks ago, ZRG made a major move into the sports, entertainment & media sectors by acquiring Turnkey Search. Renamed TurnkeyZRG, all Turnkey staff and assets merge into ZRG and the firm will continue to be led by Len Perna, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Turnkey. Turnkey will now adopt ZRG’s tech-enabled, data-driven approach to the search process which it says will give the newly merged firm a competitive edge in the hunt for sports, media and entertainment talent. Larry Hartmann, CEO of ZRG, called the deal a “blockbuster acquisition.”

Hunt Scanlon Media Launches M&A Advisory Service for Recruiters
These have been sobering days for executive recruiting firms around the globe. Most of them, regardless of size, location, or specialization were caught flat-footed by one of the most sweeping economic crises to ever hit the sector this past year. As a result, the nation’s top search consultants have been resetting expectations and, in the process, setting a new course for 2021.

Professional services firms – and executive recruiting outfits in particular – have a long history of finding their way through tough times. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Many search firms have used this time to dust off their own continuity and succession plans, or to reconsider that merger or acquisition which was something of a nuisance when times were flush. Others have taken a hard look at their capitalization strategies. This crisis, like no other, has driven many of the most well-known and respected brands in the recruiting business to reassess everything about their businesses, top to bottom.

Behind the scenes, this has been an active period for executive recruitment firms. To meet their advisory needs, Hunt Scanlon Media last year launched a new set of solutions to assist search firms and talent solutions providers seeking mergers, acquisitions, or funding connections. Founders Scott A. Scanlon and Christopher W. Hunt sit down to discuss Hunt Scanlon Ventures and the state of the executive search industry.

Hunt Scanlon Ventures facilitated the introduction and transaction between ZRG and Turnkey, both perennial leaders in Hunt Scanlon’s rankings of executive search firms. “Len Perna built Turnkey into the most formidable sports recruiting brand in the nation,” said Scott A. Scanlon, CEO of Hunt Scanlon Media. “This combination allows ZRG to deliver its ‘Moneyball’ approach to sports and entertainment, using a proprietary Z Score ‘scorecard’ to leverage data and analytics into better hiring decisions,” he said. “Unlocking hidden value in talent and skills makes this the ultimate Moneyball team. It is a game-changer in sports & entertainment recruiting,” Mr. Scanlon said.

“Selling to ZRG is about synergy,” Mr. Perna said. “Synergy going both ways. ZRG has already brought us business from their private equity practice. PE has come into sports in a big way. That helps us. ZRG’s higher ed relationships will help us in college sports. Going the other way, Turnkey has many sports clients that own other businesses,” he said. “So, they need recruiting specialists in PE, tech, life sciences, retail/consumer, and a host of other verticals and ZRG brings that.” Mr. Perna said that TurnkeyZRG will remain highly specialized, “but will now be able to leverage more reach, and more scale to enjoy reciprocal synergies.”

Related: Turnkey Search Recruits Chief DE&I Officer for the Orlando Magic

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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