ULM AD search Q and A.

ULM athletics director search committee chairman Scott McDonald answered Warhawk Nation's questions about the process to find the department's next leader.

What are the most important qualities the committee has identified for the next AD (good at fund raising, good at hiring, good at public relations, etc)?

There is an Athletic Director profile listed on the website that would serve as a good guide. Certainly there are key components that are essential to the next AD. Among those would be strong communication skills, a desire to proactively engage the Warhawk Nation, a proven ability to positively impact all revenue streams (ticket sales, sponsorships, tailgating spots, major gifts, etc) and a high degree of passion. There are some other components that are critical, such as leadership qualities, interpersonal skills, decision-making abilities, knowledge and experience in industry, commitment to academic performance of student-athletes and presentation skills. There are more factors to consider, but those are the first to come to mind. Most, if not all, of these things can be evaluated from historical performance, interviews and reference checks.

ULM made strides under Bobby Staub in areas like football attendance. What's a key area that the university hopes to bolster in athletics with the change?

There is little question that ULM made positive strides during Bobby's tenure. Football attendance is an example of those improvements. The President is the person most appropriate to answer the question directly, but I do know that it is important that ULM continues to maximize all existing revenue streams, creatively identify new areas for revenue and passionately grow the Warhawk Nation community.

What role will Carr and Associates play in the search?

Bill Carr is a respected and experienced figure in the college athletic industry. He has an unbelievable amount of contacts throughout the industry and is invaluable when we are performing research. He, and his firm, has been tremendously helpful in structuring a plan and process for the committee to do its work. The plan includes a timetable for bringing the new AD aboard, a website for applicants to gather information and leave their resumes, processes for interviewing candidates and a coordination of all of the information and activities that are involved. Keep in mind that many of the Committee members do not work at the university and some live outside of Ouachita Parish. Having Bill and his staff provide so much of the structure, guidance and process discipline is critical. He works every day in the business while everyone else is busy doing their "day jobs".

Additionally, Bill is very familiar with ULM (performing strategic planning for athletics, head football coach search, etc.) and has some ideas about potential candidates that may be a good fit. Some of those candidates are not that familiar with ULM and may need a respected professional, like Bill, to discuss the opportunities that ULM can provide. Bill can also advise the Committee (and President) about industry factors that may need to be considered when looking at different candidates.

Once Bill and his team provide guidance they turn it over to the Committee for evaluation and recommendations. It is absolutely the President's decision about the next leader in the department.

Describe the level of interest in the position. What is the range of experience in the potential candidates in the mix?

The level of interest has been exceptionally strong. Currently we have 41 applicants and anticipate several more. I participated in the last AD search as a committee member and I can attest that this field is significantly more experienced and credentialed. Of the current applicants, several are current or past athletic directors of Division 1 and Division II schools, senior level associate athletic directors of BCS schools and others that have relative experiences.

How much will things such as prior scheduling experience and experience conducting season ticket sales initiatives factor into their decision?

Most of the candidates have experience in scheduling and have been active in ticket sales. The interview process will give each of the candidates an opportunity to express their vision for scheduling, ticket sales, and many other areas that were identified earlier. Since ULM is aggressive in its scheduling of road BCS games there is certainly an emphasis on this area. How they handle that aspect and the coordination of that function with the head coaches is a question that I am sure will be asked of the final candidates.

Since the majority of the committee is made up of the same group of people, how should we expect to see change? Why should the fanbase have any faith in the committee's abilities since they seem to be part of the problem?

I am not sure about "same group of people" as it relates to this group. There are individuals on the committee that have probably never been asked to participate. When I look at the Committee we have business executives, ULM faculty and staff members, an ULM Hall of Fame coach that coached both baseball and football on the collegiate level, former 1987 National Champion football player and SEC college football coach, four former ULM student/athletes, members that live in different parts of the state and a group that collectively is committed to finding the right leadership for ULM. All of the Committee members are volunteering their time and working in a spirited way to identify the best candidates for ULM. I know there are members that have cancelled vacations, made special travel arrangements and altered work schedules to attend meetings and conference calls. This is a very committed group. I, personally have participated in search committees before (maybe I am one of your "same group of people") and can tell you that each President has their own ideas about what type of candidate is best for the job. At different times in the university history there have been different emphasis placed on certain qualities. In every search I have participated in the President has been the person that determines the best fit based on information that many of us on the various committees aren't always privy. Keep in mind that the Committee is only involved to assist in identifying candidates. There will be a series of on-campus interviews that each of the finalists will participate that includes coaches, administrators, faculty and staff and the Committee. The final interview will take place with the President, who I am sure, will collect opinions from all the aforementioned constituencies before making any decisions.

Will the new AD pay attention to the on field/court performances of all sports especially the win vs lose record and attendance of said sport? Will he/she then make the necessary changes without the burden of how long the particular coach/staff has been here and what great people they are so that the good of ULM occurs, instead of the stagnation that has been allowed to continue in a select few sports because of the longevity of the coach and the continued losing that has been on going blamed on the budget being the reason for not firing those that need to be fired...........is that too much to ask?

There is a strategic plan that is established and I am sure the new AD will be analyzing all aspects of the program. Within that plan it will be the AD and the President that will determine priorities and what areas first need attention. I am not attempting to dodge your question, but I am not the person, nor is the Committee, charged with making personnel evaluations. The Committee is charged with finding the right person that will communicate expectations and provide leadership.

Are we looking for someone safe or are we looking for someone that is progressive and willing to take some risks that can put ULM in a national spotlight?

I am sure all involved desire a dynamic leader that will articulate a vision, have the courage to tackle obstacles and execute a plan that will put ULM in the most favorable position. This Committee is looking for a leader and not a manager so maybe that best fits the answer to your question. Appropriately aggressive might be the operative term. Coach Wooden was famous for saying, "be quick, but not in a hurry". There is a line between being aggressive and being reckless. Aggressiveness (you use the word, "progressive") has to be a thoughtful and disciplined approach to be effective.

Has anybody on the search committee thought about consulting with Todd Berry about the AD position. I don't mean for him but he knows a lot of people in the College football world and could know some good people to contact. 30 years and all of his stops he could know some good candidates who are qualified.

The Committee has a great deal of respect for the coaches and staff that will be affected by this change. We would consider any opinions that come from that group both in the form of recommendations or personal experiences. There are a few applicants that have worked with current members of staff at one place or another and that certainly serves as a source of information. The coaches will have the opportunity to talk with each of the finalist during the on-campus phase of the process. Once that process has concluded then I believe they will have an opportunity to express themselves.

Has ULM's administration identified short-term goals, both in the physical plant and in fund-raising for athletics? Same question applies to long-term.

Yes, there are plans for both short-term and long-term goals. Again, I believe the President will want to discuss priorities with the new AD so those goals can be evaluated, updated and communicated to the Warhawk Nation community.


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