August 6, 2021 – Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search has been enlisted to find a new director of athletics for Princeton University. Leading the assignment are Daniel Parker, vice president and managing director, and DeLaina Jordan, associate.
This spring, Mollie Marcoux Samaan, who has served as athletics director since 2014, announced that she will be leaving Princeton to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) as the organization’s ninth commissioner. Reporting directly to the vice president for campus life, the director of athletics is charged with leading an intercollegiate and campus recreation program for 38 varsity sports. The new AD will be expected to provide “visionary leadership and role modeling that strives for excellence in academics and athletics, while embracing equity in opportunity, good sportsmanship, and ethical conduct at all levels,” said Parker Executive Search.
Princeton’s athletic director must actively support and advance the university’s commitment to ensuring a diverse, equitable and inclusive learning and working environment by continuing to create and implement new strategies to further increase the diversity of the student-athlete, coaching and administrative staff groups, said the search firm. The role also calls for managing the intercollegiate athletics and campus recreational sports programs that report to the director of athletics and providing direction by setting goals to stimulate program development, developing and managing a complex budget, and participating in decision making processes to make hard decisions in a fair and equitable manner.
Other duties and responsibilities include building and maintaining relationships with the Ivy League, ECAC and the NCAA, and participating actively in league and conference meetings and activities; collaborating with Campus Life and the office of the general counsel to oversee the administration of the intercollegiate athletics and campus recreation sports programs; and establishing and maintaining effective working relationships and communications with faculty, administrators, staff, student body, alumni and the local community regarding intercollegiate athletics and campus recreation sports programs.
A bachelor’s degree is required for this role, said Parker Executive Search. An advanced degree is strongly preferred. The successful candidate must have a demonstrated record of administrative leadership and accomplishment, of progressively responsible collegiate athletic administrative experience. Ten years of experience in university or college sports programs, which includes managerial or supervisory experience, is preferred.
Candidates should demonstrate significant experience in strategic and financial planning. They must also possess proven organizational, planning, supervisory and problem-solving skills. A commitment to diversity and to the development of an inclusive campus culture is also required. The new athletic director must have the ability to travel extensively during the season. He or she should also possess creativity, flexibility, resilience, intelligence, patience, and a quick wit and sense of humor. The job also calls for demonstrated commitment to the holistic academic and athletic development of the student-athlete within the context of a liberal arts education.
As the fourth-oldest college in the U.S., chartered in 1746, Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. Princeton has one of the largest and most successful athletic programs in the NCAA Division I and the Ivy League. About 18 percent of undergraduates participate in varsity sports, spanning 37 varsity men’s and women’s teams. Princeton student-athletes have won one quarter of all of the championships won in Ivy League history, and perform more than 4,000 hours of community service, each year.
Parker Executive Search conducts executive searches for corporations, colleges and universities and collegiate athletics. The firm has a wide range of client schools, including Notre Dame, Dartmouth, the University of Chicago, Iowa State, Fordham, University of Central Florida, University of Oregon, Clemson University, the University of Tennessee and Iowa State University, among many others.
TurnkeyZRG Assists the Atlantic Coast Conference in Finding New Commissioner
TurnkeyZRG has assisted the Atlantic Coast Conference in the selection of James J. Phillips, the Combe Family vice president for athletics & recreation at Northwestern University, as its next commissioner.
The ACC conducted a comprehensive, inclusive nationwide search process facilitated by TurnkeyZRG. The firm 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,” says 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.”
Mr. Parker leads Parker Executive Search’s sports practice. He has worked on numerous corporate vice president searches, collegiate athletic director searches, and collegiate basketball, baseball and football head coach searches. In his role, Mr. Parker is also responsible for business development and candidate development.
Before joining Parker Executive Search, Mr. Parker spent 10 years in the sales and marketing division for Nissan North America in California, Florida and South Carolina before moving to Atlanta in 2009. Along with his extensive sales and marketing experience, he also spent time working in automotive finance for Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp.
Ms. Jordan conducts comprehensive research on clients and target institutions, develops and executes a detailed search strategy and assists in the recruitment of qualified candidates based on the needs of the client and institution. Prior to joining Parker Executive Search, she worked for the University of Wisconsin-Madison athletic department in the office of career and leadership, helping to prepare student-athletes for their professional endeavors post collegiate career. She earned her bachelor’s degree in human communication from the University of Central Florida (UCF) with a minor in mass communication. She competed as a four-year starter for the UCF Women’s Volleyball team and helped lead the team to its first American Athletic Conference Championship in 2014 and first bid to the NCAA tournament since 2003. From UCF, Ms. Jordan attended Michigan State University and became a graduate assistant working with the university’s student-athlete support services. She graduated with a master’s degree in kinesiology with a concentration in student-athlete development.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media