Thursday, May 21, 2020

Using an Executive Search firm is not a big deal

BC engaged Collegiate Sports Associates' founder Todd Turner to run the Executive Search for our new Athletic Director. This sparked some indignation from some BC fans. Most were upset at the notion that the firm that employs Brad Bates is involved, but others view the whole exercise as a waste of money. I think the whole kerfuffle is silly.

1. COVID-19 makes a search that much harder and an Executive Search firm fills in some gaps. These firms can do a lot of the due diligence on candidates that BC doesn't have the time or resources to perform under current circumstances. Because of travel challenges and budget issues, BC can't do a private jet tour meeting all the potential folks interested in the job. The candidate pool will have to be funneled down via calls/zooms and past relationships. That's what CSA/Turner will do.

2. All the big College Sports Search firms are conflicted in one way or another. For better or worse, College Sports is a small, fraternal business. You don't want to work with a company that employs Brad Bates? Fine, the next in line is one that employs Gene DeFilippo. Or maybe we should use the one that UCLA just used to hire away our AD! Or the one that gave us an AD who left after three years. There is no ideal. But Turner has lots of ACC connections and Bates can add background to the BC position that not many can.

3. This is different from the football search. Jarmond proudly replaced Addazio without using a search firm. It was a shroud move. However, it was a different circumstance from this search. Jarmond had a long time to research candidates before the season even began. Plus he was looking from a much more narrow pool of eligible candidates. Father Leahy and the Board shouldn't be expected to know all the mid-level ADs around the country or people from the sports or business world who might be a good fit. There are hundreds of potential candidates. Jarmond only had to research a few dozen and even then probably had four or five that he really liked.

4. The money is not wasteful. I don't know the specifics of the Turner deal, but assume at a minimum that BC will be paying over six figures for their services. It is likely much higher than that. But given the Athletic Department money at stake, this is not a waste. The new AD will have to make the call on millions of dollars of spending (and likely spending cuts). He or she will be critical to the University's future marketing and growth plan. The money spent on the search can be justified, especially if it is done in a professional manner.

5. BC makes the final decision, not the search firm. There is a perception that Brad Bates used a search firm for the Jim Christian search and that the firm basically picked BC's coach. You can debate if that is a fair recollection, but I don't think it would ever apply to anything Father Leahy signs off on. Whoever Turner identifies as the ideal candidate, it won't just be rubber stamped by Leahy. That's just not the way he has worked with our last AD searches. So don't worry about the firms influence. This will be Leahy and the Board's call.

Hiring in general is a bit of a crap shoot. If the search firm improves your odds that much more, it is worth it. BC fans should not focus on the firm. They should focus on who we hire.

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