May 1, 2018 – Turnkey Sports and Entertainment has been enlisted by the University of Maryland to lead its search for a new athletic director. Founder and CEO Len Perna, as well as managing director Gene DeFilippo, formerly Villanova’s athletic director, are leading the assignment.
The previous AD, Kevin Anderson, took a six-month sabbatical and then, as many expected, resigned in April. Damon Evans, the school’s associate athletic director, has been leading the athletic department on an interim basis. He is expected by many to be a candidate to permanently replace Anderson.
Turnkey has “extensive relationships with athletics administrators from across the country,” said Wallace D. Loh, president of University of Maryland. “They will ensure a confidential and secure application process, as well as arrange all candidate interviews.” The firm’s consultants will meet with members of various internal and external stakeholder groups, he said, including university-shared governance bodies, athletics coaches and staff, student-athletes, academic and administrative leaders, and friends and supporters of Maryland athletics.
“Their goal is to gather input on the desired candidate profile for the next Maryland athletic director ,” said Dr. Loh. “ This information will help them develop the job description and identify and recruit the best-fit candidates for the position. All inquiries and communications regarding UMD’s search will be managed by Turnkey. I anticipate, as do the consultants, that the Maryland AD position will attract strong candidates from throughout the nation.”
The University of Maryland has 20 men’s and women’s athletic teams. Maryland had an operating budget of $94.8 million in the 2017 fiscal year and generated over $80 million in revenue, plus an additional $14.5 million from student fees and direct institutional subsidies, according to the Washington Post. It received just more than $37 million in revenue from the Big Ten Conference over that year.
More than 1,000 Placements
Established in 1996, Turnkey Search has conducted more than 1,000 executive recruiting placements across the landscape of the sports & entertainment industry. The firm has completed athletic director searches for the University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, Georgia Tech, University of Alabama, University of Tennessee, Georgetown University and Bowling Green State University.
Mr. Perna manages all aspects of both Turnkey Intelligence and Turnkey Search. A top executive in the sports industry since 1985, he began his sports career as a business attorney for Cap Cities ABC/ESPN and also served as a top executive for the Detroit Red Wings/Tigers and the Dallas Stars/Texas Rangers.
Mr. DeFilippo has served as athletics director at Boston College, Villanova and the University of South Carolina-Upstate. He has 39 years of experience in intercollegiate athletic administration and higher education.
Over the last 25 years, the sports sector has grown into a formidable global industry. Historically, professional sports teams operated on a relatively modest level, with league officials, team owners, managers, and coaches surrounding themselves with people they knew and trusted from their own small worlds. College sports teams relied on in-house search committees and word-of-mouth recommendations. Familiarity, however, can also breed contempt.
Teams with huge followings like the Dallas Cowboys, Real Madrid and Manchester United have seen their valuations soar into the billions of dollars. That’s attracted search firms – big time. Seasoned recruiters now provide strategic planning advice, in addition to talent identification services, with the capability of applying their findings to speed along the process in the hunt for talent. Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.
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.
SRi, an international executive search firm focused on the sports, media and entertainment sectors, recently published a report 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 Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media