May 26, 2016 – Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search has assisted the University of Washington (UW) in the hiring of Jennifer Cohen as its new athletic director. She replaces Scott Woodward who left the school to take on the same position with Texas A&M.
Ms. Cohen becomes the only female athletic director in the Pac-12 Conference and one of three in the 65 Power Five schools. She has worked for UW for 18 years, spending much of that time overseeing fundraising for its athletic department.
UW appointed a 14-member search committee to find its new AD, and paid the search firm $105,000 to conduct the assignment. The firm recruited Mr. Woodward to the role in 2008; at the time he had been serving as the Huskies’ interim AD.
“I am very pleased to announce Jen’s appointment, she has all the skills and energy to provide exceptional leadership for Husky athletics,” said UW president Ana Mari Cauce. “Her years of experience leading its fundraising program, along with her direct involvement overseeing football, provide a strong foundation for assuming overall leadership for the department.” This is the right moment for her, she added.
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Parker conducts executive searches for corporations, colleges & universities, and collegiate athletics. Its sports practice represents clients conducting searches for positions ranging from president and CEO, EVP / SVP /general manager, executive director, conference commissioner, athletic director, head coach, and assistant coach, among others. Recently, the firm placed athletic directors for Vassar College, Villanova University, and University of Connecticut.
UW is one of an expanding number of schools turning to executive search firms to find new athletics directors, where the fees have been growing along with the expectations. Here’s a look at some recent activity from around the sector:
- DHR International was selected by Purdue University to lead the search for its next athletic director. Current Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke announced he would retire in 2017 after serving in his position nearly 26 years;
- Brill Neumann Associates placed pro football hall of fame wide receiver and USC alumnus Lynn Swann as athletic director of the University of Southern California (USC). Pat Haden retired from the post, ending his guidance of the Trojans through a tumultuous period in the school’s history;
- Korn Ferry, the nation’s largest search firm, placed Josh Whitman as new athletics director for the University of Illinois. The University is said to have paid Korn Ferry $140,000 for its work on the search;
- Sports and entertainment-focused executive recruiter Turnkey Search was recently selected by the University of Minnesota to lead its search for a new athletics director. Beth Goetz has served as interim AD since Norwood Teague resigned in August after allegedly sexually harassing colleagues.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media