April 10, 2019 – Universities have been turning to search firms in droves to fill their top coaching vacancies. Executive recruitment firm Ventura Partners has tackled the latest search, recruiting Carolyn Kieger as the sixth head coach of the women’s basketball program at Penn State University. After 12 seasons, the program elected to move on from coach Coquese Washington. Partner Chad Chatlos led the nationwide search for Ventura Partners.
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.
“We are thrilled to have Carolyn Kieger joining the Penn State family as the leader of our women’s basketball program,” said Sandy Barbour, vice president of athletics for Penn State. “Carolyn has rapidly established herself as one of the nation’s premier head coaches, leading Marquette to two Big East Championships, a Big East Tournament title and three NCAA Tournaments in the past three years. During her tenure as the head coach at Marquette and an assistant at Miami, Carolyn has demonstrated the ability to recruit and develop outstanding young women on and off the court, including the last two Big East Player of the Year recipients.”
“We are excited about the expertise, passion, compassion, leadership and enthusiasm Carolyn will bring to our program and its students, and to her engagement with recruits, our Lady Lion alumni and fans in returning Penn State to a position of competing for championships, with continued academic achievement and community impact,” she said.
Ms. Kieger leaves Marquette with a 99-64 record, with three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and a 2-3 record in the tournament. This past season, the team went 27-8 and climbed into the AP Top 10 for the first time in school history. Before that, she spent six seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Miami from 2008-14. Following graduation, she was at Miami as coordinator of basketball operations (2006-07) and then served as director of operations at Marquette in 2007-08. Ms. Kieger returned to Miami as an assistant coach in 2008-09 and was primarily responsible for guard development with the Hurricanes.
Ms. Kieger will inherit a team that went 12-18 in 2018-19, marking the fourth time in the last five seasons it finished at .500 or worse. The Lady Lions have not advanced to the NCAA Tournament since making a Sweet 16 run in 2013-14.
“As a competitor, you want to challenge yourself to become your very best and to compete at the highest level and for a chance to win national championships every season,” said Ms. Kieger. “I’m thrilled for the next challenge of my career to compete for national championships as a part of the Penn State family, and I am incredibly grateful to president Eric Barron and Sandy Barbour for this opportunity. Penn State has a rich tradition and I look forward to doing my part to enhance that tradition and bring the program back to national prominence.”
Korn Ferry Places Head Basketball Coach at Vanderbilt
Just a few months after recruiting Vanderbilt University’s athletic director, Korn Ferry has placed NBA legend Jerry Stackhouse as the school’s new men’s head basketball coach. Bryce Drew, whose teams had a record of 40-59 over his three years as coach, was let go last month.
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.
A Top Recruiter
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.
Mr. Chatlos specializes in senior executive searches across the sports industry with a focus on diverse roles in the intercollegiate athletics landscape. His clients include major sports leagues, teams, conferences, and leading colleges and universities. He has completed Power Five athletic director and commissioner searches as well as head coaching searches for football, basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, strength and conditioning, and more, with marquee programs. In addition, he has led innovative searches in marketing, revenue-generating roles, eSports and player personnel positions.
Prior to joining Ventura Partners in 2016, Mr. Chatlos worked for Korn Ferry. He completed searches for the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NCAA, multiple national governing bodies, brands and universities. He has held senior leadership positions with the PGA Tour, Carey International and various sports marketing agencies. He has significant business development, marketing, sales and operational management experience across major sports and entertainment sectors.
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