New Paradigm Needed
I am also wondering if Thorp realizes he has begun the search for Dick Baddour’s successor completely wrong, that major college athletic directors and coaches are rarely hired away from schools by 12-person search committees that publicly screen search firms. They never expose themselves by “applying” for other jobs and never, ever agree to be interviewed by such committees. If you want one of them, you go get him privately.
That Thorp has asked his committee to give him seven names of candidates carries this paradoxical promise: None of those names will be the ones he wants or should have; they will consist of internal candidates, associate athletic directors at other schools and AD’s at mid-major universities. It will look like Carolina can’t get a big name or no big names want the job, (which is completely false) because searches for top athletic directors and coaches are well-kept secrets.
They are done by the school’s CEO dispatching one or two highly qualified and highly confidential head hunters to bring back the names of candidates that fit the qualifications he gives them. After getting those recommendations, the CEO decides who his first two choices are, has all the pertinent information about their candidacies, including how much it will cost to hire them, and then takes a private meeting with his first choice and offers the job. If No. 1 says no, the meeting never occurred and then comes No. 2. That’s how it is done today, and if Thorp is too naïve or inexperienced to know that, he needs to check with ACC Commissioner John Swofford and other college athletic heavyweights to confirm it.
Already, the public process of interviewing two search firms is ridiculous. Bill Carr, the former athletic director at Florida, is a relic of the business, who is known to find his prospects by using the opinions of other AD’s and coaches rather than his own knowledge or due diligence. Carr supposedly “found” Dr. Kevin White for Duke, when it was more of White finding Duke because he was losing traction at Notre Dame over his hiring, giving a 10-year contract to, and then firing football coach Charlie Weiss. Paying Carr anything to produce names is as silly as UNC handing Chuck Neinas $75,000 in 2006 to tell Baddour that Butch Davis was looking for a college coaching job. I would have done that for 75 cents, it was so well-known.
Todd Turner is a UNC grad, and the former athletic director at N.C. State, Connecticut, Vanderbilt and Washington who might even like a fifth chance at his own school. He is far more connected than Carr and is capable of researching two or three candidates among the dozens of sitting athletic directors who would want one of the best jobs in America. But, if he is selected, can he do it now that his cover has been blown by the UNC committee?
Interestingly, Turner has connections to two men who should be on anyone’s preliminary list. He is friends with veteran South Carolina Athletic Director Eric Hyman, the former UNC football player who worked for Turner at N.C. State and has pulled off tough rebuilding jobs at TCU and USC, and the cousin of VCU’s Norwood Teague, who has been a successful AD for five years and is widely known to covet a return to his alma mater.
Before disbanding, the committee can give Thorp a list of questions and concerns to make sure the person he chooses understands and will embrace the Carolina Culture so we won’t wind up with another Davis debacle. After that, they can all go home for good.
Discussing whether it should be Larry Gallo, Beth Miller or Rick Steinbacher is a monumental waste of their time and energy. Every reasonably knowledgeable person of the situation understands that the next AD here must already have hiring experience, great gravitas and established relationships. Whether the committee “knows” or “feels comfortable” with any of the candidates is totally irrelevant to getting the right person in place.
It has to be YOUR call, Chancellor. Do your diligence on the multiple blown hires we’ve had in the past, seek the counsel of athletically connected advisors who fully know the field and have UNC’s best interest at heart, and find the money to hire the most qualified person and best fit, who can then hire the next football coach and fix whatever is broken in the athletic department — so you can go back to your real job of running the university.
Do you agree with how the athletic director’s search is being handled?