Thursday, February 23, 2017

Don't make the "AD from the outside world" mistake

The Athletic Director's job is pretty complex. An AD deals with millions in revenue. Represents the school in a partnership worth hundreds of millions (the ACC). Leads an operations team that must pull off dozens of huge events each year. The Department also must sell and raise money. Then there is the human management aspect of being in charge of staffers, coaches and hundreds of athletes. Wearing all those different hats makes things comparable to a CEO. Other colleges have recently tapped CEOs from outside the sports world to lead their Athletic Departments. I hope BC doesn't make that same mistake.

Michigan, Notre Dame and Texas have all hired non-traditional ADs recently. All looked to accomplished business types to take over their huge departments. Other smaller profile schools have done it too. In most cases the results have been bad. Even the arguable best -- Notre Dame -- has still had problems. Too often the outside CEO is not used to the bureaucracy, politics or spotlight that comes with the job. Given that BC just had an AD who didn't adjust to our internal politics, I don't want another leader who struggles with the same mistakes. Each failed AD can set back our program another three or four years as we slog through a bad hiring cycle.

Any good CEO delegates. So I am sure BC could rationalize hiring an outsider and letting him/her put more experienced college admins around in supporting roles. But even with a team of staffers, there are two areas an AD cannot delegate: hiring and firing coaches, and raising money. Even if we don't promote someone who has done it at a Power 5 level, I still want someone who has hired a coach before. And I also want someone who has raised money. Raising money is tough. You have to grovel, beg and stroke egos. Bates didn't care for it and that is part of his downfall. Our new AD cannot be so proud or stubborn. He or she is going to have to sit through the dinners, play those rounds of golf and burn up phone lines. It is not fun or glamorous, but that is the job. 

BC could have taken a risk four years ago. That time has gone. Now get someone who understands the job and is willing to embrace it. Not someone who is just learning and adapting.


Heights said...

Go Eagles! Build the new damn athletics complex for students already! What's taking so long?!

Napolean Bonaparte said...

No major disagreement but how would Bates have done with the fundraising if he had better success in football or basketball? If you are a smart head coach - you understand like Jerry York the unfair difficult truth that 80% or more rests on recruiting. If you are a smart AD - you understand the unfair difficult truth that 80% or more rests on winning and how important it is to make good coaching hires and ensure the infrastucture and support to enable them to succeed. While I have a negative view of Bates on the surface - I'm not privy to the barriers he may have faced in connection with the job - which most of us will never know. That's not to say there were any or that they constitute an excuse - just an acknowledgment that things are rarely that black and white. Let's just hope they make a better overall hire this time.

mod34b said...

ATL, I am surprised at how narrow your world view is.

The big risk for BC is too not take a risk and go "safe" you are advocating a very Daz-like philosophy.

BC outsiders are suspect?

Bates was a true AD type. Loved academic life. Loved college sports and he was a bad manager. Results: bad

BC has a first class business school that cranks out a lot of talented biz exec. I hope BC does not over look this type of guy in favor of another "qualified" but dull and lifeless guy like Bates.

Swarbrick was a lawyer, not an exec. But I think he has been very successful.

Napolean Bonaparte said...

Somebody on another site who claims to know a member of the BOT said Leahy is leading the search without anyone from the BOT involved and that the BOT never gets involved in any operational issues such as hiring - all that is retained by Leahy. He then said Leahy sometimes consults on athletic stuff with a couple of major donors.

We are BC.

JBQ said...

A little prayer couldn't hurt. Actually, Swarbrick has been doing pretty well. If TC has some input, then everything will work out.

Tim Epstein said...

Could not disagree more, Bill. The job of an AD at a P5 is very different than 10-15 years ago. Much more CEO; much more legal. To say that an AD at a P5 needs to have worked their way up through associate AD ranks is dated. There are great ADs (and associate/deputy ADs) out there who worked their way up through athletic departments, but it is not a requirement any more than a president or governor has to have worked on an executive staff prior to taking office.