Athletic director search in final stages

by Kenneth Todd Ruiz
Assistant Editor

The University of La Verne’s search for a replacement athletic director for retiring director Jimmy Paschal has been narrowed down to a handful of candidates.

The 12-member search committee responsible for the process held telephone interviews with five candidates last week and is inviting several of them to campus for formal interviews.

“We’re down to a manageable number of applicants: three to five people, which is typical for most searches,” said search committee member and Associate Professor of Sociology Hector Delgado.

The University received 68 applications, 13 of which were referred for serious consideration.

There were a couple of internal candidates; however, most were from other Division III athletic programs. Some of the applicants came from outside of athletics entirely.

“We have a full gamut of individuals, many with extensive experience in Division III,” said search committee member Paul Alvarez, clinical supervisor for the athletic training education program.

While the job requires extensive intercollegiate athletic experience in a liberal arts environment, most of the responsibilities are administrative. In fact the athletic director position here will likely involve no hands-on teaching or coaching.

As collegiate athletics have changed over time, so have the responsibilities of the directorship. Managing the range of athletic programs and all the requirements of being a National Collegiate Athletic Association school demands a full-time administrator.

“There are 19 sports on campus, facility management issues and faculty appointments to make,” said search committee member and head baseball coach Scott Winterburn. “The job is full-time-and-a-half.”

In the past, ULV athletic faculty made appointments from within to fill the job. This time around, the administration decided to launch a national search that was open to any applicants.

The University advertised the position to a wide audience, listing with the NCAA, as well as Latino and African American higher education journals.

“The position of athletic director has historically been a white male bastion,” Delgado said.

Athletic programs have been widely criticized for lacking ethnic diversity in leadership positions. Universities and colleges, known for championing equal opportunities and egalitarianism, have dropped the ball when it comes to athletic programs.

In 2001-2002, the NCAA reported that outside of historically black institutions, four of five collegiate athletic directors were white men.

Members of the committee said they considered the issue of diversity in their candidate search.

“It has been a concern, both positive and negative,” Alvarez said. “With the diversity we have in our student body, we would be remiss not to give consideration to promoting ethnic diversity.”

Alvarez said he believes that although neither ethnicity nor gender should be a requirement for the position, the committee should make sure they find someone sensitive to the diversity of ULV.

The job description states that La Verne is seeking someone with the “ability to work with a racially and ethnically diverse student athlete population, (and) a commitment to women’s athletics.”

“To not consider that as a qualification for a candidate would go against the mission of the University,” Alvarez said.

Athletic directors in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, of which La Verne is a member, are all male, said Delgado. Of these, Jeff Martinez at Redlands is the only non-white athletic director.

Delgado said that it can be difficult to find minority candidates because of the lack of variety in candidates given by the NCAA.

“The NCAA has not done a good job of bringing in different people,” Delgado said.

“It’s a case of institutional racism, not personal. Sometimes, though, you still have overt racism,” he said.

However, the committee has still received a good response from female applicants, an important consideration to be made in terms of diversity.

Several of the 68 applicants were women, according to ULV Special Projects Manager Yvette Underdue Murph.

Delgado said candidates also need to understand the differences between Division III and Division I college athletics to be able to serve the University better.

He said that while athletes at Division I schools receive scholarships and may dream of going professional, players at Division III schools tend to focus on academics.

“At La Verne, there is much more emphasis on the athlete as a student,” Delgado said.

The names of the candidates for athletic director will be released once a final pool of candidates is selected.

Committee members met last week to review recent applications and make sure they have not overlooked any strong contenders.

The University hopes to have the position filled by July, and will continue accepting résumés until a final determination is made.

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