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For Boston College, The Search For A New Athletic Director Must Be Ambitious

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Notre Dame V Boston College

The Boston College fanbase got rocked over the past few days with news of Martin Jarmond’s sudden departure from the Heights. While for someone like Jarmond advancement was an inevitable consequence of his hiring, it is rather surprising that he left so quickly.

Yet, here we are, and BC is in a position where it needs to find a new AD.

I’ve noted a lot of thoughts about the process out in the community, and one of the prevailing thoughts I want to talk about is the idea that BC needs to hire someone who is “loyal” to BC, who has ties to the school, and someone who will stay for a long time.

I submit that it is a bad way to approach things.

One of the reasons why Martin Jarmond was such a popular hire when he came to the Heights was that it was a signal of ambition. Instead of trying to stick with the status quo at BC, the institution broke free from years of stagnation and hired someone who can push the department forward.

And, for what it’s worth, it is hard to argue that Jarmond has not done that. Jarmond made two big hires in the revenue sports, one of whom has turned out to be, at least right now, a godsend for the women’s basketball program.

Ambition brought those hires to the Heights. I am sure that Joanna Bernabei-McNamee and Jeff Hafley would not have come to BC if the department was not serious about making leaps for the better. Any strong hire that BC brings in (especially when the time comes for a new men’s basketball coach) will also have ambitions of their own.

And the thing is, that’s ok. To expect someone to benevolently come in to BC and make the athletic department a powerhouse without an expectation of advancement is simply inconsistent with all sense in the world. There is no business in the world that succeeds without employing people who are ambitious for something more.

Don’t believe me? Take Jerry York. York coached at two programs before coming back to his alma mater in 1994. At his second stop, Bowling Green, a program he has no obvious ties to, he led a program that had merely sniffed success, won the program’s first national championship and had a decent amount of success before moving to BC. Would Bowling Green had been better off without York, now college hockey’s most successful coach, at the helm?

Perhaps another example is one that we see whenever football struggles: Tom Coughlin. Coughlin obviously had ambition past BC, and he lasted as long as Jarmond at BC. Coughlin, a Syracuse alumnus whose only tie to BC was a brief stint as quarterbacks coach, took a BC football team that was in the cellar of the Big East his first year, and left it the twelfth best team in the country off an upset win against Notre Dame. Anyone want to argue that hiring Coughlin was a bad move for BC?

No, hiring someone with ambition past their time with BC is not a mistake, and BC should not restrict itself to just looking at potential hires who would be “loyal” to BC or have a history with the department. BC should look for the candidate who will advance BC athletics the furthest in their time at the Heights. When that person leaves, BC should do it again.

Jarmond’s hire should not be judged for how much time he spent at BC. He should be judged for what he did to make BC better. If the answer is that he made BC better, and I would argue that he did, his tenure should be viewed as a success, and BC should look for someone who will continue his progress, their future plans be damned.

BC should not be afraid of ambition, it should welcome and facilitate it.