SFA appears likely to tab outside hire for Athletic Director spot

May 21, 2018
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When longtime Stephen F. Austin athletic director Robert Hill announced his retirement at the end of January, it appeared likely his heir already worked in the same building.

The Lumberjacks boasted a number of qualified candidates on the payroll, most notably senior associate athletics director John Branch.

Now, five months later and as the search conducted by executive search master Bob Beaudine of Eastman & Beaudine reaches the home stretch, it appears SFA will head in a new direction under entirely new leadership.

Sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Sawmill late last week that Branch had removed his name from consideration, effectively paving the way for an outside hire. Branch will likely remain at SFA and will continue to lead the department's external affairs staff while offering guidance to the incoming director.

The move does come as a minor surprise to those who have closely followed the department over the past years. Branch's experience and relationship with university president Dr. Baker Patillo were all factors that made his promotion appear nearly inevitable.

As it stands, however, interviews are being conducted and it is likely the next athletic director at SFA will come from the outside.

At this point, rumors are only rumors and a list of finalists has yet to emerge. It is still possible that an announcement will be made before June 1st, although no timeline has been officially set for introductions.

Whoever is named will inherit an athletics department with basketball programs that are setting new benchmarks of excellence among their peers, a suddenly resurgent softball program, a machine-like soccer program, a consistenly competitive track & field team, the defending champions in volleyball and a football program potentially poised for a peak season.

To say it is an enticing job would be, perhaps, an understatement. With the momentum built by Hill, Branch and the leadership of the past regime, it is also imperative that they get the right individual to keep it going in 2018 and beyond.

EDIT: An earlier version of this article stated SFA was on the brink of a fourth-straight commissioner's cup. After calculations from the recently endd baseball season, that is no longer the case.

SFA appears likely to tab outside hire for Athletic Director spot

Jacks4460
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Thanks Isaac... Man this makes me feel so much better... I just like the thought of fresh ideas from a new regime..
TallTexan
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Well if it isn't the man, the myth, the legend himself popping in to drop some knowledge on us all!

Thanks, Isaac, this is the best news I've heard on the AD search so far.
nacluth
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Thanks for the update Isaac! Looking forward to having a new vision equipped with a solid program being able to get some solid results.
SFAJack_76
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Good news on the AD. Perhaps. Is he or she a Patterson or a CDC? Those that follow UT will understand.

The Commisioner's Cup standing the SLC had posted must have been wrong. Sam wins the overall with what they have posted now.
nacluth
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No 4th Cup. They forgot Tennis in the last update though it implied it was included. Sam wins the cup.
Ryan
Kinnaird Guitars
edstile
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SFAJack_76 said:



The Commisioner's Cup standing the SLC had posted must have been wrong. Sam wins the overall with what they have posted now.
Well, kiss a fat pig on that!
edstile
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edstile said:

SFAJack_76 said:



. Sam wins the overall with what they have posted now.

Now I'm confused. On the SLC website it still shows us with 150.0 and Prison Tech with 144.5. What am I missing??
Jacks4460
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edstile said:

SFAJack_76 said:



The Commisioner's Cup standing the SLC had posted must have been wrong. Sam wins the overall with what they have posted now.
Well, kiss a fat pig on that!
Anyone but those pigs in Huntsville.. I guarantee our tennis team had the best looking players.. Does that not get us a few extra points??
nacluth
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Doesn't include baseball. Sam will get 13 points, we will get 2.
Ryan
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TallTexan
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SFAJack_76 said:

Good news on the AD. Perhaps. Is he or she a Patterson or a CDC? Those that follow UT will understand.

The Commisioner's Cup standing the SLC had posted must have been wrong. Sam wins the overall with what they have posted now.
Not only a CDC, CDC himself. Steal of the century, Texas will never see it coming.
Jacks4460
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If I was as wealthy as Gazette I would donate money to the University so we could pay CDC more than he makes at UT...
BigJack85
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I imagine that a lot of this hire will revolve around facility enhancement and of course fund raising for such enhancements. We are probably at the top of the SLC for basketball and volleyball. Middle of the pack for football, tennis and soccer. Bottom for baseball and track. It's hard to prioritize when the needs are so significant. I would hope updates to Homer Bryce and soccer would be part of an initial update. Baseball and track would be a bonus.
Jacks4460
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BigJack85 said:

I imagine that a lot of this hire will revolve around facility enhancement and of course fund raising for such enhancements. We are probably at the top of the SLC for basketball and volleyball. Middle of the pack for football, tennis and soccer. Bottom for baseball and track. It's hard to prioritize when the needs are so significant. I would hope updates to Homer Bryce and soccer would be part of an initial update. Baseball and track would be a bonus.
Whomever it is Bigjack85 needs to hire me to be his/her right hand man.. I can get people to work together and I love my University..
TallTexan
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BigJack85 said:

I imagine that a lot of this hire will revolve around facility enhancement and of course fund raising for such enhancements. We are probably at the top of the SLC for basketball and volleyball. Middle of the pack for football, tennis and soccer. Bottom for baseball and track. It's hard to prioritize when the needs are so significant. I would hope updates to Homer Bryce and soccer would be part of an initial update. Baseball and track would be a bonus.
I think fundraising & facility updates are going to be key to this person's success over the next 10 years.

Does anyone know if we have an athletic's facilities master plan? It's hard to know what we'd prioritize as required/necessary improvements for the athletic department.

On my dream list of improvements:

  • Updated facade for WRJ
  • Basketball practice facility
  • On Campus baseball/softball
  • Track/Soccer facility, if a soccer field can be fit within a standard track.(No idea if it will really).
  • Updated training/nutrition facilities for all sports.

But I could see a more realistic list of improvements being much smaller, as the above list might hit the 30-50 million mark, & unless we're interviewing Mack Brown, I don't see that being a feasible amount for quite a while.
Jacks4460
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According to the BOR meeting they have picked the same engineers that did the Star in Frisco to come in and evaluate and prioritize our facility needs and come up with a master plan. I thought we would get to see some of that plan this past meeting but all they did was the workout area improvement at the WRJ. There is a plan in the works and you are spot on your improvement list.. Having the WRJ facade updated and large patio area with food/beer vendors and a stage for entertainment would bring instant revenue.. They need to look at their Aramark deal when it comes to sporting events... Those events should be 100% controlled by the Athletic Department...
BigJack85
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My guess on the new ad "profile". Rising star in the D2 ranks or #2 guy/gal at a Conference USA or American Conference.

I agree with Tall regarding facility priorities with the exception of a new facade for WRJ. I agree it should be done but it's priority should be lower for the benefit of facilities in which we are clearly behind. Basketball is not one of those. We either have the best or second best facility in the conference. Add that together with having the best all around product in the conference. We clearly give our basketball coaches all the advantages. On the other hand baseball and soccer are clearly at a disadvantage. Let's fix those first.
Jacks4460
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Alright which AD from within this conference would we want to hire if any?
BigJack85
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This is going to sound counterintuitive but.... the guy at Nicholls St. They've done alright considering they have the big fat $7 million $ budget.
TallTexan
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BigJack85 said:

This is going to sound counterintuitive but.... the guy at Nicholls St. They've done alright considering they have the big fat $7 million $ budget.


I was gonna say ACU, but I'd prefer the number 2 guy from the American or CUSA. Say Houston, SMU, UNT, or Rice. Somebody who already knows how big donors work and knows a few of them.
Jacks4460
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TallTexan said:

BigJack85 said:

This is going to sound counterintuitive but.... the guy at Nicholls St. They've done alright considering they have the big fat $7 million $ budget.


I was gonna say ACU, but I'd prefer the number 2 guy from the American or CUSA. Say Houston, SMU, UNT, or Rice. Somebody who already knows how big donors work and knows a few of them.


I would of said ACU.. Then remembered that one alumni gave almost 100% of the money for their new stadium... so he didn't have to raise all that cash...How much money did Hill make per year?
cboothe09
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That guy at UH is milking Tillman Fertitta for everything he will give and some...Granted he is the Chairman of the Board, that dude is dropping serious money on campus and in their athletic programs...
TallTexan
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Probably the case at most large mid sized schools. Texas, A&M, LSU, etc are likely to have many large donors that can chip in large amounts of cash like raising 80 million in a few weeks for Jimbo's deal.

But unless we're hiring the Assistant AD for fundraising from a place like that, we'd just have to hope whoever we get has a good network and knows how to fundraise.
edstile
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cboothe09 said:

That guy at UH is milking Tillman Fertitta for everything he will give and some...Granted he is the Chairman of the Board, that dude is dropping serious money on campus and in their athletic programs...
They don't call Fertitta "Billion Dollar Buyer" for nothing.
TallTexan
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edstile said:

cboothe09 said:

That guy at UH is milking Tillman Fertitta for everything he will give and some...Granted he is the Chairman of the Board, that dude is dropping serious money on campus and in their athletic programs...
They don't call Fertitta "Billion Dollar Buyer" for nothing.
We don't call you Ed "Hope and a prayer and a lotto ticket" for nothing either.
edstile
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TallTexan said:

edstile said:


They don't call Fertitta "Billion Dollar Buyer" for nothing.
We don't call you Ed "Hope and a prayer and a lotto ticket" for nothing either.
Never bought my first one, Texan. I prefer going with something with much better odds, like putting down $2 on a 500-1 nag at Sam Houston Racepark.
TallTexan
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Ed, it's gonna be hard to build up the nest egg required to have "Edstile Coliseum" with small bets. Think of what one Powerball win could do for the university
Jacks4460
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I have heard a rumbling of the Nichols State AD.. I was thinking hell if this guy can raise money and find good coaches to work for him then he might be a keeper.. I know he will save the University alot of monies in legal fees since he does have his law degree.. He could earn his pay in the saving of legal fees alone.. Then he needs to hire Texan and I to go help him raise money because 1 man/woman can not do it alone..
TallTexan
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I mean, that's a pretty impressive career trajectory for someone who finished their bachelor's in 07. https://geauxcolonels.com/staff.aspx?staff=221
edstile
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TallTexan said:

Ed, it's gonna be hard to build up the nest egg required to have "Edstile Coliseum" with small bets. Think of what one Powerball win could do for the university
IDK, Texan.. I still like the sound of -- What was it? -- Geezers and Gals Coliseum.
TallTexan
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Working toward's that goal every day Ed, but if you win enough on the ponies, feel free to sponsor.
BigJack85
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Jacks4460 said:

I have heard a rumbling of the Nichols State AD.. I was thinking hell if this guy can raise money and find good coaches to work for him then he might be a keeper.. I know he will save the University alot of monies in legal fees since he does have his law degree.. He could earn his pay in the saving of legal fees alone.. Then he needs to hire Texan and I to go help him raise money because 1 man/woman can not do it alone..


I have heard the same thing.
tangerito
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Not sure I agree with the Nichols guy or not. Why is he wanting a lateral move? Didn't work out great with
Coach Conque !
BigJack85
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I don't think it's lateral going from an $8 million budget to $17 million
edstile
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I know virtually nothing about this guy other than what I've read here, but personally I'd rather get someone from a larger, more reputable university who is well known across Texas and this part of the country, who has experience in hobnobbing with coaches and people with deep pockets, and who has a record of successful fundraising. I can't see someone coming from Nicholls, which can't afford to send its teams to NCAA playoffs, having those desirables.
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