Nearly five months after the University of Louisville named Josh Heird its interim athletic director, a search firm has been hired to help determine if his position should be made permanent.
Collegiate Sports Associates, a North Carolina-based company that has assisted in the hiring of dozens of university athletic directors, has been retained to identify and screen candidates, subject to the input of the previously appointed advisory group and a final decision by the university’s interim decision president, Lori Gonzalez.
Gonzalez announced the hiring in a letter to the university committee Thursday.
“As you know, we conducted a series of listening sessions to gain input from various constituencies about the traits you would most like to see in a new athletic director,” she wrote. “More than 600 people either attended the forums or submitted comments online. We appreciate the time and thought you put into helping us through this process and are using your entry to formalize the job description for the new AD.
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“I am confident we will find an outstanding leader to guide our athletic department into an even brighter future.”
Gonzalez said Collegiate Sports Associates had already begun work and she hoped to complete the process “soon.” In response to a request for the terms of the search firm’s agreement, a U of L spokesperson instructed a reporter to submit a public records request.
When U of L last conducted an athletic director search, in 2018, it selected the most expensive of eight search firm applicants, Korn Ferry, and paid a $150,000 base fee plus expenses and an administrative service fee of $6,000.
That process resulted in then-interim AD Vince Tyra being made permanent. Tyra resigned Dec. 8.
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While Heird has been encouraged to run the department as if he were to be in charge indefinitely, and was allowed to negotiate Chris Mack’s exit and Kenny Payne’s hiring as the school’s head coach basketball, several of the school’s wealthiest donors have made plain their preference for U of L’s former AD, Tom Jurich.
Jurich was fired in the fallout from the 2017 federal investigation that revealed a bribery scheme behind U of L’s recruitment of Brian Bowen, but the long-time AD has retained the support of both Jim Patterson and Dr. Mark Lynn, whose names adorn the university’s baseball and soccer stadia, among other influential boosters.
WAVE TV personality John Ramsey, who has led the campaign for Jurich’s return, said “a ton” was being done earlier this week.
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“As soon as UL gets the search firm moving, it will all come to the surface,” he said.
Founded in 2010 by Todd Turner, formerly the athletic director of four Division I schools, Collegiate Sports Associates has helped place current Atlantic Coast Conference athletic directors Whit Babcock of Virginia Tech and John Curie of Wake Forest.
Penn State’s new athletic director, Patrick Kraft, was previously placed at Boston College by CSA. The company’s web site lists more than 100 administrative and coaching placesments.
Tim Sullivan: 502-582-4650, firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @TimSullivan714