USF search committee chair: prior athletic director experience preferred, not required

Dr. William Sutton (left), head of USF's six-person athletic director search committee, met briefly with four of the six committee members Monday, June 11, 2018. (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)
Dr. William Sutton (left), head of USF's six-person athletic director search committee, met briefly with four of the six committee members Monday, June 11, 2018. (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)
Published June 11 2018

The head of the search committee charged with helping USF find a new athletic director shed some light on the type of person being sought for the job during a brief meeting Monday.

Prior administrative experience in an athletic department is preferred, but not a prerequisite. Fundraising chops are important but not paramount. Relationships with the nation's collegiate movers and shakers? That could move one's resume to the top of the pile.

So were the statements of Dr. William Sutton, director of the nationally prominent Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program and head of the six-person search committee, during a public 15-minute sit-down with the group Monday. Four of the six members attended the meeting at the Selmon Athletics Center.

"Would we consider people that are not in college athletics? Possibly. I don't know that, I don't have the answer for that," Sutton told the group. "I think anybody that's qualified, we're gonna take a look at and vet them out and see how they stack up against other people that have expressed an interest in the job."

Sutton said he has been given no time frame for finding a replacement for Mark Harlan, who resigned 10 days ago for the same job at Utah. He and the committee will work with the Eastman & Beaudine search firm to help USF find its third AD in less than five years.

"Our job is to get the possible person for 2018 to come in here and help take this program to the next level," Sutton said. "That's my charge, and that's what we're gonna do."

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In a brief followup session with reporters, Sutton said prior AD experience is something the committee would be very interested in, but added, "It won't hold anybody out."

"I think we're at the level, with where we are and where we're going, that the more experience you have in dealing with donors and dealing with boosters and dealing with the media and social media, and dealing with your own staff … they'd definitely be given high consideration."

Those statements would seem to bode well for former Buccaneer Derrick Brooks, considered by many as the top local candidate for the job.

Despite no college administrative experience per se, Brooks previously has served as president of the Tampa Bay Storm and co-founded the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School. He also has worked extensively with Bulls coach Charlie Strong in trying to raise money for the proposed USF Football Center.

"I think fundraising is one thing we're looking for, I wouldn't say it's the only thing," Sutton said. "It's an important thing but not the important thing."

Other committee members in attendance Monday were former Bulls basketball player Anddrikk Frazier; USF Foundation CEO Joel Momberg and USF Foundation Board chairman George Morgan.

Tampa Bay Sports Commission executive director Rob Higgins, who said Friday he would not pursue the AD job, also could assist the committee in some capacity, Sutton said.

"Rob and I talked last week and I appreciate his viewpoint," Sutton said.

"He's got a job to do and he's excited about doing it. And at the same time, he wants to make sure he can help USF. So he's probably gonna be involved some way or another in helping us, advising me or giving me some insight."

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