March 9, 2018 – Specialist recruiters Turnkey Sports and Entertainment has placed Mike Hill as the next director of athletics at UNC Charlotte. Senior executive director Gene DeFilippo led the assignment.
Mr. Hill previously served as executive associate athletics director for external affairs at the University of Florida.
In addition to his marketing and fundraising roles during his 25 years with the Gators, he also helped lead several coaching searches, including those that resulted in the hiring of Billy Donovan and Mike White in men’s basketball and Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen in football.
Chancellor Philip L. Dubois cited the range of experiences that Mr. Hill acquired during his 25-year tenure at Florida as a key factor in the decision. “Mike has a deep background in a highly successful athletic program from a ‘Power Five’ conference, so he has played lead roles in hiring and working with highly successful head coaches, negotiating multi-million dollar media agreements and facilities naming rights, and being on point in external relations for the Gators,” said Mr. Dubois. “But we were equally impressed by his sports administration experience and his dedication to the welfare and personal development of student-athletes.”
“We appreciate the efforts of Gene DeFilippo and Turnkey, our search consultants, for helping to develop a robust pool of superbly qualified candidates,” said Mr. Dubois.
Respected Among Peers
Former Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan, now with the Oklahoma City Thunder, said he developed a close personal relationship with Mr. Hill over 19 years of working with him. “He worked very closely with our basketball program and he was extremely smart, bright and an incredible person,” he said. “Charlotte has just added a special person to their athletics programs and to their university.”
Steve Spurrier, Florida football coach from 1990 to 2001, said Mr. Hill is well deserving of the role. “We believe he will do a super job for the 49ers,” he said. “The athletic department will continue to improve and he will lead the programs in a first-class manner.”
Scott Stricklin, Florida’s athletic director, said Mr. Hill was an experienced and talented competitor “who consistently exhibits vision, compassion and integrity. For years, the Gators have benefited from his skills, and while we will miss having him in Gainesville, I am so happy to see Mike get this long-overdue opportunity to lead an athletic department. He is going to do an outstanding job for Charlotte.”
Established in 1996, Turnkey Search has conducted more than 1,000 executive recruiting placements across the landscape of the sports & entertainment industry. It recently completed executive searches for president of the new NHL expansion team in Las Vegas, CFO of the Atlanta Hawks, CRO of the Anaheim Ducks, CMO of the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders, and it placed athletic directors at Michigan, Minnesota, Georgia Tech, Bowling Green and other Division I institutions.
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.
AD searches are some of the most prolific assignments for recruitment firms in the sports sector. Here are some recent AD assignments from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:
Witt/Kieffer recruited Victoria M. Chun as the new director of athletics of Yale University. Witt/Kieffer’s sports leadership practice recruits leaders for colleges and universities, sports foundations, alumni associations, governing bodies and sports federations, professional leagues and teams, and other non-profit charitable organizations.
Korn Ferry placed director of athletics at the University of Virginia.
Carla Williams became the first female African-American AD at a Power Five conference school and is the fifth active female AD at that level. Craig Littlepage, the longest tenured athletic director in UVA history, is retiring after 16 years in the role.
DHR International 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. DHR also recruited an insider, Jeffrey Schulman, as athletic director at the University of Vermont (UVM).
Eastman & Beaudine placed Jon Gilbert as the new athletic director of the University of Southern Mississippi. Over the past 40 years, Eastman & Beaudine has conducted numerous assignments to find head football or basketball coaches for a number of universities.
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