With Martin Jarmond likely to be announced as the new athletic director at UCLA today, Boston College needs to find a new athletic director. While a lot of progress was made under Jarmond’s administration, the program is currently at a bit of a crossroads. Now I’m not on the selection committee for a new AD (but I am a recent law school graduate with not a lot to do right now so… just saying) but if I were, here are five areas that, if I were interviewing candidates, no one would be able to leave the (Zoom) room without addressing.
1. What are the long term goals of the department?
Under Martin Jarmond, the program went on a rather dramatic shift away from the day-to-day operations of the Brad Bates administration. Jarmond, among many things, focused on fan development and student-athlete welfare. The next AD might have other priorities, and that’s ok, but in a department that is trying to build and improve upon itself, direction matters. This is a situation in which I suppose there are few wrong answers, but a candidate needs a plan. This is no time for grasping at straws.
2. How would you handle new hiring?
It’s not a particularly big secret that Jim Christian is not a particularly popular men’s basketball coach at Boston College, and as much as we really, really, really do not want to talk about it, there is going to be a point where Jerry York is not going to be able to coach one of BC’s marquee programs, the men’s hockey team (you know, twenty, thirty years down the road). In any event, the chances of the new AD making a major new hire are high, and it is important that the new hires are made in a methodical, intentional way, and having a road map in place will be important.
3. How will you calibrate development during a post-pandemic economic world?
One of Martin Jarmond’s most important initiatives was the creation of the Greater Heights campaign to improve resources for athletics. Over the past three years, Boston College has made significant strides in improving resources, from opening the Harrington Athletics Village to the Indoor Practice Facility. That said, a lot of work still needs to be done to keep Boston College competitive. The Greater Heights webpage lists men’s and women’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s basketball facility improvements, and a possible basketball practice facility strikes me as an important target. Yet, the world is spiraling to a major economic downturn, which means that fundraising is about to get more difficult, which means a new AD is going to need to get creative with fundraising. A new AD needs to be ready to bring in funds in an uncertain time.
4. How will the department handle a potential Coronavirus shutdown in the fall?
This is a very difficult problem to confront given the potential for serious ramifications on the department. As we discussed a few days ago, the collegiate athletics world is in an uncertain time, and no one knows when college sports can return. Now this problem might not come to fruition, (Marty Walsh announced that the City of Boston intends to open its schools in September, though obviously there is a different calculus for public, inner-city schools) but the fact remains that we do not know if the ACC will cancel fall sports, or if the virus is in such a state that a return to campus is not safe (and thus athletics cancelled) or even if Marty Walsh bans events like football games in September. If that happens, BC potentially will miss out on a significant amount of revenue that keeps the athletic department afloat, and consequences will be significant. I don’t think it is ethical to discuss what those consequences might be, especially since BC currently is not in a position to talk about what plans may be in place, but we’re seeing the effect of a potential Coronavirus shutdown already across the country with cuts to Cincinnati’s men’s soccer program and Bowling Green’s baseball program. The potential for problems is real, and a new AD needs to be ready to confront these potentially difficult situations.