May 14, 2018 – Atlanta-based executive recruiters College Sports Solutions (CSS) has been selected by the University of Texas to lead its search for a new head coach for its track team. The previous coach, Mario Sategna, was fired after five years on the job, with the school saying it wanted to go in a new direction. Jeff Schemmel, founder and president of the search firm, is leading the assignment.
Associate head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey has been serving as interim head coach. All other members of the Longhorn track and field staff will remain in place as well.
“After discussing the future of our track and field program, I felt it was best to move forward and head in a new direction at this time,” said Chris Del Conte, the school’s athletic director. “Coach Buford-Bailey has a great deal of experience as a head coach and has been a valuable leader in our program for several years now. We have full confidence in her ability to lead our student-athletes and in assuming the duties of head coach immediately.”
The Longhorn track and field programs have produced numerous Olympians for various nations. Male medalists include Winthrop Graham (Jamaica, silver, 1992 and 1988), Patrick Sang (Kenya, silver, 1992), Du’aine Ladejo (Great Britain, bronze, 1992), Lam Jones (U.S., gold, 1976), Eddie Southern (U.S., silver, 1956), and Dean Smith (U.S., gold, 1952). Female Olympic medalists have included Sanya Richards (U.S., gold, 2004), Sandie Richards (Jamaica, silver, 2000 and 2004), Merlene Frazer (Jamaica, silver, 2000), Nanceen Perry (U.S., bronze, 2000), and Carlette Guidry (U.S., gold, 1992 and 1996).
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 tremendous 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.
College Sports Solutions provides consulting and recruiting services to universities, intercollegiate conferences and collegiate organizations. CSS clients run the gamut of collegiate sports institutions, including Auburn University, Alabama State University, Alabama A & M University, Boise State University, Brigham Young University, University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Grand Canyon University, Montana State University, New Mexico State University, Oregon State University, Presbyterian College, Tulane University, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Central Missouri, University of Houston, University of Minnesota, University of New Mexico, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), University of North Carolina (Charlotte), University of Northern Iowa, University of South Dakota, University of South Florida and University of Utah.
Mr. Schemmel directs all business development and intercollegiate industry relations and provides hands-on services. Prior to launching CSS, he was the managing director of the college division of JMI Sports.
With over 25 years of intercollegiate athletics management experience, Mr. Schemmel is a former athletic director who has served in key leadership positions within the NCAA, the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA, and at schools in the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences. He was director of athletics at San Diego State University from 2005 to 2009. During his tenure, he negotiated the school’s first comprehensive apparel/equipment contract with Nike and was responsible for hiring and retaining many of the school’s successful coaches and administrators.
He sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media recently to discuss the search and the sports sector in general. Here are some excerpts from that interview.
Jeff, the sports sector, both at the collegiate and professionals, has been turning to executive search firms to fill coaching positions in record numbers. Why do you think this has occurred?
Our firm does 100 percent of our business in the college athletics space, so I will limit my thoughts to that market. There is immense public focus and pressure on presidents, chancellors and athletic directors in today’s searches to hire coaches and administrators who are thoroughly vetted and fit the mission, political climate, and current needs of the institution. Time frames for searches for both coaches and administrators have become shorter and shorter, and therefore require efficient and constant day-to-day management that traditional search committee members are simply not able to provide given their regular job duties.
Why have a number of these assignments gone to your firm?
There are several reasons why we believe presidents and athletic directors hire our firm. First, we do 100 percent of our work in college athletics. We do not perform searches in any other areas; our expertise in exclusively in college athletics. Second, our team of consultants is made up entirely of experts in college athletics, many of whom have been strong, experienced and respected leaders in our business. Third, because our work is comprehensive and nationwide, we have the opportunity to get to know and work with many administrators and coaches at a variety of schools and conferences. We learn very quickly who the good ones are, and where they might be great fits. That brings a confidence to our institutional clients that we will bring them a pool made up of candidates who are the best fits for that school, and not from a stable of candidates that is rolled out for each search. Each school is unique and is looking for a coach or administrator that fits its mission, both academically and athletically, its position in college athletics, its conference, its geography and many times its unique characteristics and timing. We believe we know that landscape better than anyone because our business is entirely in that space.
“We obviously value experience and expertise, but as importantly we select good people – people who treat others with respect every day, return phone calls, emails and texts promptly, and do not shy away from tough assignments.”
What do search firms bring to teams looking for new head coaches?
Again, I will only speak for our firm, but I believe our firm brings great experience in conducting successful searches, and clearly has the most experienced and respected team of collegiate athletic leaders in the country. Combined, our team has over 200 years of college athletics experience and has conducted hundreds of successful searches. We know the business, the landscape and the people better than anyone. Also, as I mentioned, we bring 24/7 management of the search process – something that has become much more critical as searches necessarily become ones that increasingly need more speed, efficiency and thoroughness. Lastly, as mentioned, our firm lives daily in the intercollegiate space. No one knows better who the best coaches are, whether head coaches or assistants. It’s our job to know them. We make it our business to know them.
With college teams now competing as global brands in a world of entertainment choices, how has this affected their search for new leaders?
More than anything else, the landscape has changed relative to revenue production. There are very few athletic director searches that don’t have revenue-producing skills as a major job requirement. That is not just fundraising. It is marketing, multimedia rights, website, social media revenue, NCAA and conference money, and of course ticket sales. That, and the fiscal management of the department –which can focus on efficiencies that are oftentimes hampered by long-standing policies, processes and procedures – are now incredibly important as universities look for optimum yet effective athletic operations that can ease the financial burden on the institution.
How has your experience as a former athletic director helped you in the search sector?
For me, and I think I can speak for those of us on the CSS team who have been athletic directors (Judy Rose, Deloss Dodds, Jim Livengood, Rick Bay, Danny Morrison, Rudy Davalos, Richard Giannini, Tom Moe) and conference leaders (Chuck Neinas, Kevin Weiberg), the fact that we have sat in the chair gives presidents, chancellors and athletic directors a confidence that we will understand their school, their situation and what they are looking for in their next head coach or athletic director. We have experienced the many ups and downs of these leaders, and been responsible for so many searches in our careers that we know well the dos and don’ts, the good roads and the bumpy ones, and most of all the good people, both coaches and administrators. We have been very careful in selecting our team of consultants at CSS. We obviously value experience and expertise, but as importantly we select good people – people who treat others with respect every day, return phone calls, emails and texts promptly, and do not shy away from tough assignments. We bring that team and those qualities to every search.
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