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View from the East
Thursday, May 28, 2004

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Time to reconsider AD hiring process


The East Carolina board of trustees was supposed to meet in Raleigh on Thursday with the search for an athletics director among the topics to be discussed with incoming chancellor Steve Ballard.

There apparently will be no rush to judgment to find an AD for the Pirates. Ballard may have concluded that the best course of action essentially would be to start the search process over again.

If Nick Floyd is willing, he may be asked to continue handling the position on an interim basis. The powers that be would be wise to take a good look at Floyd for the position fulltime. Floyd is the son of Ralph Floyd, who was athletics director at Indiana during his career. Nick has spent most of his professional life preparing to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Nick Floyd thought he could handle the AD job at ECU when he was asked to fill in nine months ago, after Mike Hamrick left for Nevada-Las Vegas. Floyd's time on the job has proven to him that he can. If he doesn’t become ECU’s choice, he will likely be given an AD opportunity elsewhere.

It says a lot about Floyd that the ADs in Conference USA made him chairman of the league’s competition committee this past spring even though he was an interim appointee at the time. The competition committee is studying such issues as scheduling for C-USA’s retooled membership, potential division alignment and the possibility of a football championship game.

If Floyd were to leave the interim post for another opportunity, retired ECU athlete, coach and administrator Henry VanSant would be a good choice to bridge the gap until a hire is completed. VanSant, who long harbored aspirations of being AD at his alma mater, worked effectively in an interim capacity prior to Hamrick’s arrival.

There may be some question as to whether VanSant would take the assignment, considering that then-ECU chancellor Richard Eakin refused to allow him to apply for the permanent position when the search process that resulted in Hamrick's hiring was undertaken.

One element that may be added as the AD search is restructured is the use of a consulting firm to identify and discretely act as an intermediary in the search process. Some good candidates are reluctant to send resumes and interview before a large committee because of concerns about the perception of loyalty to their present institution or position.

A consulting firm that helped Clemson find basketball coach Oliver Purnell has been recommended to some key ECU leaders.

The search needs to be proactive. Good candidates need to be identified and pursued. The present situation resulted because the search committee passively waited to react on those submitting resumes. It may not have been the best possible pool of applicants, in part because of concerns about who the new chancellor would be.

Another step in the process that has been missing is getting input from current coaches at ECU, especially those in the major revenue producing sports. The potential damage of a poor working relationship between the AD and a major sport coach is unfortunately part of the Pirates’ recent history and should be avoided if at all possible in the immediate future.

Coaches should have an opportunity to meet with the next round of finalists, ask them questions and get a feel for their new boss. The university will probably be investing more in paying its football coach than it will the AD, even though the AD is higher in the chain of command. It makes sense to try and assure that the football coach is a happy camper. This is an accepted part of the AD hiring procedure at many institutions and the coaches should be allowed to make a joint recommendation to Dr. Ballard if they desire to do so.

Hopefully, Dr. Ballard will be able to provide coaches some feedback about the hiring process as it progresses. Some coaches are on pins and needles about who will be directing the department in the future and that’s not a healthy work environment. It’s tough enough to be successful in college athletics today without worrying about how things are going to work out with your new boss.

There should be no hurry in getting the AD job filled. The job is being filled capably on an interim basis. The concern should be on conducting a thorough search in a proper manner. Hopefully, that’s where Dr. Ballard and the BOT are headed.

Seek and ye shall find.

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02/23/2007 12:45:44 AM

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