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.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The early names floated as Jarmond replacements

Martin Jarmond is now officially gone, so the BC side of the question is “who is next?”

BC is expected to name Vaughn Williams the interim. Williams was a long-time assistant AD under GDF and returned under Jarmond. He will probably be a candidate for the job full-time, but I would be surprised if any internal candidate got the job.

Based on speculation and gossip, I think Father Leahy and the Board still understand the importance of the role. While Jarmond’s time at BC was short, he validated their decision to focus on fundraising and being the face of the Athletic Department. In the midst of a Athletic Department Fund Raising Campaign and the most economically uncertain time in the last 50 years of college sports, I think they will still remain focused on someone who can be the face of the program and get people to open their wallets. These are some of the names already being floated. A few things to remember:

  1. Jarmond was not one of the early names leaked last time, so it is very possible our future Athletic Director is unknown to all of us. 
  2. BC has a history of over-correcting on a hire based on the previous hire's flaws. Gene was a bit dictatorial and had rubbed key people the wrong way, so they go with Brad Bates, who was not a big personality and was deferential. Bates was bland and a drag on fundraising, so they bring in a high-energy sales guy like Jarmond. The knock on Jarmond is that he wasn’t here for the long run, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them hire someone who wants to be at BC a long time.

Vicky Chun, AD at Yale
Pros: Very experienced Athletic Director and fundraiser at private schools.
Cons: No experience at Power 5 programs.
Bottom Line: The Jarmond process showed that BC wanted to look beyond the traditional candidate pool. Don’t be surprised if they do it again by looking beyond the “boys club.”

Matt Hasselbeck, ESPN
Pros: Passionate about the job and the institution. Has the ability to be the face of the program yet is more than just a "rah rah" guy. He can switch hats to evaluate coaches and deal with the financials.
Cons: Zero experience.
Bottom Line: Matt’s supposed strong interest is intriguing. The timing is also intriguing as he was asked to help Jarmond during the Hafley process because Jarmond had rubbed a few influential people the wrong way. I don’t know why Hasselbeck would walk away from ESPN, but this is supposedly the one opportunity that would do it. I always liked him, but think the politics of this process will kill his candidacy.

Mark Jackson, AD at Villanova
Pros: From Boston, so this would/could be a final stop. Has been a big fundraiser and understands the importance of basketball. Also worked for Raiders, Patriots and USC, so he knows football.
Cons: You could claim he was in the right place at the right time for Villanova. USC, which knew him well, passed on him when they had their opening.
Bottom Line: He checks nearly every box you would want in a BC Athletic Director, but the obvious choice never seems to survive this process.

Graham Neff, Deputy AD at Clemson
Pros: CFO and business head of the biggest cash cow in the ACC. Deep ACC ties. Understands the financial implications ahead as well as anyone.
Cons: No history fundraising at a private school. Never made a coaching hire.
Bottom Line: He will probably be a P5 AD within five years and does keep BC firmly tied to the ACC decision makers, but he is still very young and has no ties to BC or any school like BC.

Zac Selmon, Sr Associate AD at Oklahoma
Pros: Like Jarmond, he is a young fundraiser from a football power. Has deep ties to the ACC (played at Wake, worked at UNC).
Cons: Has never made a coaching hire.
Bottom Line: His profile and career trajectory is close enough to Jarmond's that you can understand BC’s interest. But as I wrote, we tend to over-correct on hires, so I would be surprised if we hired Jarmond 2.0.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Thank you, Martin Jarmond

Per multiple reports Martin Jarmond is leaving BC to be the next Athletic Director of UCLA. I wish him nothing but the best of luck. While his time at BC was relatively short, he installed an enthusiasm and optimism missing for nearly a decade. He didn't reshape the department but did make some critical decisions, most notably firing Addazio and hiring Hafley.

There are plenty of people who feel he is leaving too soon or are disappointed he didn't do more. My response is that it is hard to do a lot in three years in a big bureaucratic position where embracing the status quo is needed so often just to get through a respective season. BC is a political place and he managed the politics better than Brad Bates and better than the latter half of the DeFilippo era. As for leaving, how can anyone be surprised? When you hire a young, ambitious person, he or she is going to want to move onto the next challenge.

BC is in a better place than it was and finding his replacement won't be hard. Ever to excel and good luck to Martin.