The search for a new athletic director will conclude after Interim President Neil Kerwin makes a final decision based on a search committee’s recommendations, but the person chosen is not likely to take over the position before early this summer, according to Vice President for Campus Life Gail Hanson.
Hanson, who led the search committee, would not reveal the identities of the three job finalists. She said they were all in “senior positions” and could not leave their current jobs quickly.
“They’re going to have to figure out when they can responsibly leave those positions and make the move here,” she said.
Hanson and Presidential Chief of Staff David Taylor presented the committee’s recommendations to Kerwin on Monday. Taylor said he did not anticipate Kerwin would make a decision prior to spring break.
The search began after former Athletic Director Joni Comstock announced on Aug. 24 that she was leaving AU to become senior vice president for championships in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. She officially took over the position Sept. 29, The Eagle previously reported.
The eight-member search committee included a student athlete, two coaches, two faculty members, two administrators and a former president of an AU alumni group, Hanson said.
The search committee originally received more than 60 applications for the position, but eventually narrowed their focus to six candidates. Committee members conducted their first round of interviews with the six candidates Feb. 21 and 22 before selecting three finalists for further consideration, according to an e-mail Interim President Neil Kerwin sent to the campus community.
The three finalists came to campus Feb. 27 and 28 for an additional round of interviews, according to Hanson.
“I think our three finalists are all people who have a breadth of experience and all would bring something very strong to our program,” she said.
The committee chose Parker Executive Search to help them through the process, and Hanson said it helped the committee receive a good pool of candidates by recruiting people to apply for the position.
“Parker has a terrific reputation for working in the area of athletics, both in generating impressive pools of people for senior athletic administrative positions and for coaching positions,” she said. “They have a broad network and we thought they could find the right fit for us.”
The committee’s task in finding a candidate who was “the right fit” included outlining a set of qualities that they felt any final candidates for the position should have. Kerwin’s e-mail listed some of these qualities, including an “appreciation of Patriot League values.”
“We’ve got to have an athletic director who cares deeply about the student athlete and wants to be in a place that values academic and athletic excellence together,” Hanson said.
The Patriot League, which AU joined in 2001, is an athletic league that stresses the importance of admitting athletes who are “academically representative of their class.” The league requires its member schools to hold student athletes to the same academic standards as its other students and that a school’s athletes do not receive any special academic treatment, according to its Web site.
Kerwin’s e-mail also said the committee wanted its candidates to be committed to having AU’s athletic programs be an important part of campus life.
Hanson said this aspect was important because the school’s athletic programs reached beyond its intercollegiate teams.
“We wanted to look for candidates who appreciated the contribution athletics has to make to students who don’t play a collegiate sport, but are active in intramural and club sports or use our fitness facilities,” she said.
Additional qualities Kerwin outlined included skills in athletic management and fundraising, an ability to inspire the coaching staff and a willingness to help the school’s athletics program build a “strong foundation for competitive excellence.”