May 1, 2017 – 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.
Most recently, Boston College and the University of Las Vegas, Nevada (UNLV), have turned to Parker Executive Search and Collegiate Sports Associates, respectively, to find new leaders for their athletic departments. Here’s a look inside both searches.
Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search has placed Martin Jarmond as athletic director for Boston College. He succeeds Brad Bates, who left the school to become vice president of Collegiate Sports Associates. Mr. Jarmond was previously deputy director of athletics at Ohio State University (OSU). There, he also functioned as chief of staff for athletics director Gene Smith, directing day-to-day operations at an athletics program with 1,100 student athletes in 36 Division I sports, 375 employees, and a budget of $170 million.
At OSU, he served as sport administrator for football, men’s basketball, baseball, and men’s and women’s golf programs, and was a member of the AD’s executive leadership team where he participated in strategic planning and directed search committees for coaches and administrators. As OSU Athletics’ chief advancement officer, Mr. Jarmond helped raise more than $120 million between 2010 and 2012.
“I am delighted that Martin Jarmond will be the next athletics director at Boston College,” said William P. Leahy, president of Boston College. “His work as deputy director of athletics at Ohio State and at Michigan State have given him not only appreciation of the opportunities and challenges of intercollegiate athletics, but also experience in how to respond effectively to them. He is a person with high energy, infectious enthusiasm, and an impressive ability to engage with people and issues.”
Parker Executive Search conducts executive searches for corporations, colleges & universities, and collegiate athletics. Its sports practice represents clients conducting searches for positions ranging from president/CEO, EVP/SVP/general manager, and executive director to conference commissioner, athletic director, head coach, and assistant coach, among others.
Its sports practice has worked with a wide range of schools, including Notre Dame, Dartmouth, the University of Chicago, Iowa State, Fordham, and the University of Central Florida. Last year, the firm recruited David Benedict as athletic director at the University of Connecticut. It also placed Mark Jackson as director of athletics at Villanova University as well as Jennifer Cohen as the new AD of the University of Washington (UW).
Collegiate Sports Associates (CSA) has recruited Desiree Reed-Francois as athletic director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Current AD Tina Kunzer-Murphy is stepping down from her post in next month. UNLV paid CSA $75,000 plus expenses directly related to the search, according to UNLV sources. Ms. Reed-Francois, current deputy athletics director at Virginia Tech, has more than two decades of leadership experience as an athlete, attorney, and athletics administrator and is considered one of the industry’s rising stars.
She served as second-in-command to the athletics director at Virginia Tech since 2014 and was responsible for external relations and day-to-day operations for 22 sports, more than 600 student-athletes, and 14 facilities. An administrator with an eye toward balancing the complex facets of a Power Five athletics department, she partnered on budget development for all athletics units at Virginia Tech, prepared the department’s facilities master plan, redesigned fundraising strategy, and revitalized the university’s student-athlete success program. Prior to Virginia Tech, Ms. Reed-Francois spent two years at the University of Cincinnati as senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator.
“Desiree has tremendous depth of experience at the highest levels of college athletics and a clear vision for the future of Rebel athletics, and I couldn’t be more pleased to welcome her to UNLV,” said UNLV president Len Jessup. “She has shown the ability to manage the complex internal demands of a large Power Five athletics department while simultaneously energizing fans and supporters in all sports, and I’m confident she’ll successfully move UNLV athletics forward.”
Collegiate Sports serves the recruiting needs of athletics programs at NCAA Division I universities and conferences across the U.S. The firm’s network of associates includes current and former Division I athletics directors and other senior university and conference officials, including commissioners, presidents, faculty athletics representatives, coaches, and associate athletics directors.
Collegiate is led by former longtime athletic director Todd Turner who has recruited professionals for a number of top university athletics programs, including those found at University of Missouri, Kansas State University, Longwood University, University of Missouri, University of New Mexico, Northern Illinois University, University of Oklahoma, Old Dominion University, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest University, and Winthrop University.
Athletic director searches are some of the most prolific assignments out of the sports sector to come to recruitment firms in recent years. Here’s a sampling of recent AD assignments from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:
- Turnkey Search placed John Currie as director of athletics and vice chancellor at the University of Tennessee. He replaced Dave Hart, who announced his retirement last year after six years with the school. Turnkey Search also recently placed Todd Stansbury as athletic director for Georgia Tech. The search was led by senior executive director Gene DeFilippo, a former athletic director at Boston College, Villanova and University of Kentucky, along with Len Perna, founder, president and chief executive officer of Turnkey Search.
- DHR International just placed Heather Lyke as athletic director at the University of Pittsburgh. Glenn Sugiyama, DHR’s managing partner and global sports practice leader, led the assignment along with partner Pat Richter who spearheads the firm’s specialized sports practice group. DHR also recruited an insider, Jeffrey Schulman, as athletic director at the University of Vermont (UVM). The firm was said to have been paid $75,000 to look for, vet and present candidates to UVM, along with another $9,000 for indirect costs and reimbursements of over $30,000 for advertising placements and traveling.
- Eastman & Beaudine placed Jon Gilbert as the new athletic director of the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). Past AD Bill McGillis left the school to take on the executive director of athletics role at the University of San Diego.
- Parker Executive Search placed John Cohen as the 17th director of athletics at Mississippi State University (MSU). The firm also recruited David Benedict as athletic director at the University of Connecticut; Mark Jackson as director of athletics at Villanova University.
- 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.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media