At the end of this academic year, the Bates Director of Athletics, Kevin McHugh, will resign after ten years of holding this position. This necessitates the need for a new director, for which the search has just begun.

During McHugh’s decade of service, the women’s rowing team won their first NCAA team championship. Players from the Track and Field, Squash and Tennis teams have secured individual national titles. Also, Bates athletes have received more than 200 All-America honors since 2007.

Under McHugh’s tutelage, Bates also joined the “You Can Play” initiative in 2013 to support LGBTQ inclusion and Garcelon Field and Bates’ rowing boathouse have been renovated.

On October 25, the President’s Office sent an email to the Bates community announcing the formation of a search committee. In addition to the college’s president, Clayton Spencer, this varied group consists of students, professors, coaches, the assistant Athletic Director, the Dean of Admissions and the Dean of Financial Aid. The committee is led by Matt Auer, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, and Josh McIntosh, the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.

However, members of the committee will not be the ones traveling the country or tracking down and interviewing candidates. Bates has enlisted the help of Parker Executive Search, which according to Bates’ President’s Office, is “one of the leading college athletic search terms in the country.”

Bates’ use of this searching service is part of a recent trend of colleges enlisting the assistance of search firms to help them select athletic directors, coaches, and administrators.

ESPN senior writer, Dana O’Neil, wrote in her article “Need a Coach? There’s a firm for that,” that this rise coincides with “an increase in salaries, [and] a change in the profile of the typical athletic director — fewer are ex-coaches; more are coming from the business sector.” Laurie Wilder, executive vice president and managing director at Parker, even says that many Athletic Directors are now CPAs or MBAs, certified public accountants or masters of business administration, respectively.

At the click of a button, a Parker Executive Search employee can access profiles of any coach or director one may want to hire. This includes educational and coaching background, win/loss records, salaries and bonuses, shoe contracts or country club memberships, videos at news conferences or on the court during games and news stories referencing any “black marks” during one’s career.

Each profile is “complete with a prospective coach’s mug shot in the top left corner of the screen.” Parker has a wealth of information on “more than 1,000 basketball coaches and 2,000 football coaches” and has countless profiles of athletic directors.

When a school such as Bates signs up for a search service, at a fee “that typically runs between $60,000 and $90,000, plus expenses,” according to O’Neil, they gain much more than just access to a database of profiles.

Included in the fee is “handling all calls inquiring about coaching vacancy, reviewing its database with search committee members […] contacting coaches or agents to request interviews, arranging for travel and accommodations for candidates who will be interviewed, conducting public records searches […], confirming academic degrees, and negotiating a contract on behalf of the university.”

Also essential to the search process is feedback from any and all Bates community members, which is welcomed throughout the process.

At any time, one can email with thoughts on the following questions: What are the important opportunities and challenges facing the next Athletics Director at Bates? What are the most important qualities to seek in candidates for the Athletics Director position? And are there any potential candidates that you would like to refer, or other in the field whom we should consult about this search?

Members from Parker Executive Search will be visiting campus on November 16th to talk to members of the Bates Community and there will be more details on the event to come.

Bates’ search committee, alongside Parker Executive Search, will be hard at work throughout the next few months.