June 13, 2019 – Universities continue to turn to executive search firms to find new athletic directors. Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search recently placed Brian Baptiste as director of intercollegiate athletics and recreation for La Salle University in Philadelphia. He succeeds Bill Bradshaw recently announced his retirement.
“I am thrilled to welcome Brian to the Explorer family,” said Colleen M. Hanycz, president of La Salle. “Brian rose to the top of a highly-qualified candidate pool. His depth and breadth of experience in Division I athletics leadership coupled with his commitment to integrity and the holistic student-athlete experience make him the perfect choice to lead La Salle athletics into this next chapter.”
A rising star in his field, Mr. Baptiste comes to La Salle after nearly seven years at Northwestern, where he has served as deputy director of athletics for capital projects and operations since 2015. In that role, he was responsible for all capital projects for athletics and recreation and had oversight of athletic facilities, event management, equipment services and recreation. Previously, Mr. Baptiste spent nearly three years at the University of Delaware where he held the title of associate athletic director for compliance.
“Brian is a great choice to continue the upward trajectory of La Salle University athletics,” Mr. Bradshaw said. “Jim Phillips is a dear friend of mine and has spoken very highly of Brian’s accomplishments at Northwestern. I couldn’t be happier knowing that my alma mater is in such capable hands.”
La Salle University was established in 1863 through the legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Brothers of the Christian Schools teaching order, which St. La Salle founded in 1680. Globally, Lasallian education reaches over one million students in 77 countries on six continents; this includes more than 1,000 schools, universities, and centers of education, and 65 colleges and universities with six located in the U.S.
“This is a dream opportunity to work at an institution with a rich history and storied tradition rooted in unwavering faith, service to others and a commitment to developing the entire person, all in a world-class city like Philadelphia,” said Mr. Baptiste. “Through strong alignment with the university’s mission and values, our coaches and staff will be inspired every day to provide an exceptional student-athlete experience academically, socially and athletically for the sustained success of all La Salle Explorers.”
Parker Executive Search conducts executive searches for corporations, colleges and universities and collegiate athletics. Its sports practice represents clients looking to fill positions such as president, CEO, EVP, SVP, general manager, executive director, conference commissioner, athletic director, head coach and assistant coach, among others. The firm’s sports practice has a wide range of client schools, including Notre Dame, Dartmouth, the University of Chicago, Iowa State, Fordham and the University of Central Florida.
Dan Parker is the search firm’s vice president and managing director. He has worked on numerous corporate vice president searches, collegiate athletic director searches and collegiate basketball, baseball and football head coach searches. Mr. Parker is also responsible for business development and candidate development.
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.
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SRi, an international executive search firm focused on the sports, media and entertainment sectors, published a report recently 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