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Bob Dunning

Wanted: AD who knows how to fundraise

By From page A2 | April 26, 2012

Athletic Director wanted.

Major public university with visions of grandeur located in scenic Northern California. Compensation to be determined. Must be able to define “Aggie” and bleed Blue and Gold. Apply ASAP.

Yes, the folks on campus are on the prowl for a new athletic director, but before doing so they felt it necessary to spell out exactly what UC Davis is and what UC Davis isn’t, just so there’s no misunderstanding when the new man or woman comes aboard.

And let’s be honest here. Raising money will be, by far, the most important part of the job.

Sure, there are the usual mentions of academic integrity, moral character, leadership qualities and the ability to run a 4.6 second 40, but make no mistake, if you can’t bring in major dollars from untold donors, don’t bother applying for the job. In fact, if you can attract big dollars, everything else on your resume is secondary.

In her letter several months back to members of the Recruitment Advisory Committee for the Director of Athletics, Chancellor Linda Katehi laid out the qualities of her dream candidate for the job.

“I see the director of athletics as a key position in the UC Davis administration, an adviser who attends meetings of the Council of Deans and Vice Chancellors, as is currently the case, and is integral to the academic mission.”

Unless, of course, there’s a volleyball game at the same time all those deans and vice chancellors are gathering around biscuits and bottled water at the Top of the Mrak.

“UC Davis’ next director of athletics, first and foremost, must espouse a convincing and unequivocal commitment to ensuring that academic integrity and academic excellence are mainstays of the Intercollegiate Athletics program and that these principles will not be compromised.”

Academic integrity and moral character are practically boilerplate stuff in job descriptions involving intercollegiate athletics these days, largely because there has been such a lack of integrity and moral character recently in so many institutions around the country, UC Davis to the contrary. (See Penn State, Ohio State, Arkansas, North Carolina, just to get started.)

Still, I don’t think academic credentials will have much to do with who ultimately ends up getting this job.

Adds the chancellor, cutting to the chase: “The director also must be a proven visionary with outstanding financial acumen.”

Being on a first-name basis with Phil Knight would be a good start.

“She or he will be called upon to create and implement a sustainable financial model and an effective overall strategic plan. The director must have a proven track record of being entrepreneurial and creative when it comes to fundraising, marketing and identifying other innovative approaches to generating revenues.”

I can hear the PA announcer now, telling the Saturday afternoon football crowd that “This UC-Mondavi Aggie touchdown recorded on the Coca-Cola jumbotron at the north end of Chick-fil-A Stadium is brought to you by Bank of America, Kentucky Fried Chicken and our good friends at Wal-Mart.”

And, in case we haven’t sufficiently understood her words, the chancellor notes: “The director must openly embrace this as a fundamental responsibility of the job. The director must not only be comfortable with fundraising, but must also display strength in fundraising and openly embrace it as fundamental to the success of the program, along with marketing and promotions.”

And while he’s out there doing all that embracing of donors and dollars, he mustn’t, of course, forget about academic integrity.

“The new director also should have experience building an endowment or having led successful efforts to build new athletics facilities, particularly those that support student welfare (e.g., academic support, strength and conditioning, and athletic training.)”

He or she also “needs to show an interest in all teams.”

Yes, I love all my athletes just the same. But I especially love those of you who play sports to which we can charge admission.

“It would be beneficial, but not imperative, that the new director be someone who has either coached or played intercollegiate athletics.”

Especially if some of your old teammates are now billionaires.

— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]

Bob Dunning

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