December 3, 2019 – Universities have been turning to search firms in droves to fill their top coaching vacancies. Just recently, the University of California, Riverside picked Ventura Partners to lead the search for its next women’s basketball head coach. Interim head coach Seyram Bell will lead the team through the 2019-20 season. She stepped in following the resignation of former head coach John Margaritis in September.
Mr. Margaritis quit in the wake of accusations by current and former UC Riverside women’s basketball players of verbal and emotional abuse.
“We are excited to be working with Ventura Partners,” said the school’s athletic director, Tamica Smith Jones. “Ventura is an excellent firm with a broad range of services. They know our athletics program, understand our needs and will be a great partner as we move through this process this year.”
“Ventura Partners is a national executive search and talent management firm with a specialty practice in intercollegiate athletics and specifically women’s basketball,” said Katy Young Staudt, managing director, sports and entertainment at Ventura “We are pleased to have been retained by UC Riverside to assist in this key hire for the Highlanders. We will work closely with UC Riverside’s director of athletics, Tamica Smith Jones, and her leadership team on this search.”
“We want to make sure our women’s basketball team is set up for success and our plan is to support coach Bell and her staff so she can lead our team accordingly this season,” Ms. Jones said. “Following the completion of the 2019-20 campaign, we will make a decision on our next head coach and we will take the time necessary to do that.”
Ventura Partners Places Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Penn State
Ventura Partners recruited Carolyn Kieger as the sixth head coach of the women’s basketball program at Penn State University. Ms. Kieger, a 2019 Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year Award semifinalist, guided Marquette University to the top of the Big East Conference and three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances as the Golden Eagles’ head coach.
The Highlanders have appeared in the NCAA tournament three times since joining Division I, making it in 2006, 2007 and 2010 after winning the Big West title. They also made the WNIT in 2009, 2011 and 2016. The school is hoping to find a coach that can build on this success.
Finding Preeminent Leaders
Ventura Partners is one of a growing cadre of search firms dedicated to the explosive growth sector of sports – focused on finding preeminent leaders in college and professional sports recruitment, and leading searches for college athletic directors, commissioners, premier coaches and senior executives across all sports. Ventura recently completed searches for Ole Miss, Clemson, Texas A&M, Auburn, Iowa, Utah, Kansas State, Nebraska and Purdue.
With offices in Beverly Hills, Chicago and Atlanta, the firm also serves an array of other clients, including top-performing private equity funds, well-known and industry-disrupting brands, and leading industrials. Ventura Partners’ practice groups include: consumer products and services, industrial, private equity, CFO services, board services, sports and entertainment, and senior leadership assessment.
Ventura Partners recently placed Trevor Woodruff as the new women’s head basketball coach at Bucknell University. He took over from Aaron Roussell, who left the school to take on the same role with the University of Richmond. Mr. Woodruff has compiled a 113-10 record and four conference championships over the last four years as head coach at the University of Scranton.
Over the past 15 years, Ms. Staudt –who took the lead on the Yale search – has established herself as one of a leading number of professional search consultants in the sports and entertainment worlds. Before joining Ventura Partners in 2018, she spent time at Witt/Kieffer and Eastman & Beaudine, where she conducted numerous searches for Division I head coaches and directors of athletics, and has worked closely with clients across professional sports properties including MLB, NBA, NHL, PGA TOUR, USTA, Churchill Downs and others.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media