February 9, 2022 – Universities continue to turn to executive search firms to fill top coaching positions. The University of Louisville has retained Chicago-based DHR Global to assist in its search process for a new head men’s basketball coach. DHR’s managing partner and global sports practice leader Glenn Sugiyama is partnering with the school on the search. “Identifying the right coach to lead our premier college basketball program is my focus,” said Josh Heird, interim director of athletics at the University of Louisville. “With the assistance of DHR, which has extensive experience in the athletics search space, we will conduct a comprehensive, inclusive and expeditious search for the next head coach to lead our storied program.”
“I am honored to help Josh and the University of Louisville in their search for a new head men’s basketball coach,” said Mr. Sugiyama, who has been leading executive searches in the sports sector for more than 17 years. “The university has a rich tradition of athletics’ excellence and a storied basketball program, and I respect the importance of this search for the program, students and alumni.” The new coach will replace Chris Mack, who reached a separation agreement last month with the school, ending his tenure short of four full seasons. Mike Pegues is currently serving as Louisville’s interim head coach.
Mr. Sugiyama’s past searches include the 2006 Stanford football search that landed Jim Harbaugh. He assisted Purdue in hiring former Cardinal Jeff Brohm as its football coach and Florida State (FSU) in an athletic director search that saw former University of Louisville AD Vince Tyra become a candidate before FSU hired Seminole Boosters CEO Michael Alford.
Mr. Sugiyama is known for some unusual tactics when conducting high visibility searches. According to a 2019 Chicago Tribune story, he once sent a decoy plane to Boise, ID, during a search to throw off reporters and fans familiar with flight tracking.
A Leader in Sports Recruitment
DHR’s sports practice is a global specialty for the firm with capabilities on six continents across all sports-related organizations. These range from Fortune 500 companies and professional sports teams to public and private university athletics. The firm has overseen searches for the University of Pittsburgh, Colorado State University, Fresno State University, San Jose State, Kansas, Syracuse and Quinnipiac University, among others.
DHR Global recently assisted Northwestern University in the recruitment of Derrick Gragg as the Combe Family vice president for athletics & recreation. He succeeded Mike Polisky, who resigned as the university’s athletic director. The search process, aided by DHR, was kept confidential to ensure the ability to identify and recruit the best possible candidates, according to Morton Schapiro, president of Northwestern. “It was essential for us to find the right leader for the next chapter at Northwestern — someone who can build both academic and athletic excellence at a time of rapid change in the intercollegiate sports landscape, and also someone who can create the best possible environment for students, staff and coaches,” he said. “After talking extensively with Derrick, it was clear that he was the ideal person for the job.”
At age 27, Mr. Sugiyama became one of the youngest directors of a major U.S. pro sports team when he was named to the board of directors of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. Prior to the Bulls, he was a Division I college basketball coach. Recently, he was named one of the “Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business” in the U.S.
“Glenn is professional, he’s thorough and integrity is important to him,” Brian Battle, the former senior associate director of athletics for internal operations at Florida Atlantic University, told the Tallahassee Democrat. “He puts together the best candidate pool for the university to make the decision.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media