AD Search Committee Chair Shares Timetable

The University of Illinois has begun the process of seeking a new athletic director with the retirement of Ron Guenther. Larry DeBrock is the head of a search committee to hire Guenther's successor, and he talks about the process he and his committee will use to make that selection.

Larry DeBrock is the dean of the University of Illinois College of Business, and he has been asked to chair a search committee that will report to Interim Chancellor Bob Easter and make recommendations on a new athletic director. DeBrock has been involved with athletics at the UI in the past.

"I did serve two terms on the Athletic Board," DeBrock stated on WDWS radio Tuesday afternoon. "I did one term in the late '90's, and then the spring of '08 was my last. I became the dean of the College of Business in January of '08. I was the chair of the Athletic Board at the time, and that was my final spring of my four year term."

DeBrock had business in St. Louis so left campus this afternoon. But he believes the makeup of the committee has now been established.

"I believe the committee is in place now. When I left campus for St. Louis, I think they had one spot left they were trying to nail down. It looks like it's going to be a committee of about 10 people; a couple faculty, a couple coaches, some DIA staff and an alum."

The committee hopes to begin its deliberations shortly.

"We're trying to set up a meeting for Monday. The members will not be a big secret, so I would expect their names to come out pretty quick."

Ron Guenther will not be a member of the committee. Many Illini fans want to know the names of the coaches on the committee as some have experienced a polarized fandom. DeBrock was unable to provide those names.

"I don't know them right now. I got a lot of emails from people volunteering their services for the search committee. But the Chancellor is putting the committee together. Bob Easter and Bill Adams are putting it together."

They are also hoping for a quick decision. Guenther retires officially June 30. The goal is to have no delays in naming his successor.

"We are shooting for the first of July. We really think that, given the attractiveness of the position, there should be a swift turnout of names and some applications. We'll roll our sleeves up in June and get to work so we can try to get this nailed down by the time Ron leaves."

The committee has yet to decide on the necessary qualifications for the position, but DeBrock did share one possible scenario.

"I don't want to speak too much because we haven't had our first meeting, but I'm pretty sure the committee is going to be open to a relatively wide range of applicants. Without question, someone who's been an athletic director at a large Division I program will have an experience factor that will help them out. But on the other hand, you never know what kind of interesting talent you might find in a search like this."

Procedures must be followed to make sure all qualified applicants are considered. DeBrock shared the time frames involved.

"We're in the process right now to finishing the official paperwork to get the job description and get the approval for hire that has to happen at a large public operation such as this. And then we'll be able to make the official posting.

"It's a national job search, so it will be posted around the country. If we can get that posting out relatively quickly, say early next week, then usually 2 or 3 weeks after that will be a time period that everything will be in place.

"The applications will have come in, and we will be monitoring those as they come in. We're not gonna make any decisions on who we'll bring in until the end of the application window."

Of course, committee members will receive input from many sources. Some recommendations will arrive independent of the application process.

"There will be people who send emails. Once the committee becomes known, people will know different members of the committee. Obviously, my name is known already, so I'm getting some of those friendly suggestions from alums. That's part of Illini Nation, that they have strong feelings about this, and some of them are beginning to channel those."

A high-profile job search like this requires a great deal of confidentiality, at least until there are finalists. Some candidates might withdraw their names if their present jobs were in jeopardy from public disclosure. Their loyalty to their present positions would be questioned. DeBrock explains.

"Confidentiality is a very important thing. It's no different than what's going on right now with the Chancellor search. They have to be very careful because people who would be at that talent level and would be interested in being Chancellor at the University of Illinois, they would have to be cognizant of the fact their schools where they're currently working would not be too thrilled with them announcing they are on the market.

"A lot of attention is paid to protecting confidentiality until you get to a point where a few names have to go forward."

Some candidate interviews might need to be held off campus. In these cases, DeBrock explains not all committee members may attend.

"That depends on where these meetings might happen. If we have to travel to meet them, it would probably not be feasible for all 10 members to go."

Illinois must move fast if it wants a new athletic director in place by July 1. Many decisions are on the table and require immediate attention. Delays would be counterproductive to the needs of the University.

There is a great deal of interest in this hire. DeBrock hopes to balance the need for confidentiality with a process that concludes with results satisfactory to the vast majority of Illini administrators, alumni, faculty, students and fans.

"We hope to make this as open a process as we can make it."


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