Gopher Athletics Director Search

"This search must bring our community together and our diverse search committee begins to do that. Gopher athletics must reflect the overall excellence of the University, and I’m confident our search will produce candidates who share our values, and who bring great integrity and a record of success." President Eric Kaler

UPDATE: April 6, 2016: Job description 

The Athletics Director (“AD”) reports to the President of the University and is located on the University’s Twin Cities campus.  In addition to State and Federal laws (e.g., Title IX), the University of Minnesota’s Department of Athletics (the “Department”) is operated subject to the constitution, bylaws, rules, regulations, directives and written policies of the University, the NCAA, the Big Ten, and the Western Collegiate Hockey Conference (collectively the “Rules”). At all times, the AD shall provide executive level leadership and hands-on management of the Department in full accord with, and a total commitment to, the Mission and the Rules.  If any candidate is aware or should be aware of any potential Rules violation under their watch at any current or prior place of employment, such candidate has an affirmative obligation to disclose this to Turnkey and Minnesota.

The general responsibilities listed herein are neither exhaustive nor exclusive and are subject to change.   The AD shall be responsible for all the duties normally associated with an athletics director at a Division I university whether nor not listed herein, most importantly:  the strongest possible commitment to the University’s Mission, including striving to achieve the highest possible academic achievement and graduation rates for all students, including student-athletes; leadership with the highest possible standard of integrity, morality, honesty and humility including constant vigilance and compliance with the Rules; public service/teacher orientation putting all team members (students, student athletes, coaches, staff, faculty, administrators and alumni) ahead of any real or perceived personal agenda; and last but not least, strong fiscal/financial/business, marketing, communications and media acumen to ensure a balanced budget and maintain the strongest possible financial integrity of the Department.

Specific Responsibilities:

The specific responsibilities listed below are neither exhaustive nor exclusive and are subject to change during and/or after the search process.   The AD shall be responsible for all the duties normally associated with an athletics director at a Division I university including but not limited to:

  • Developing, maintaining and reviewing programs and procedures that, to the greatest extent possible, ensure the health, safety, recovery and welfare of student athletes, coaches, trainers, staff, faculty & fans.
  • Developing, maintaining and annually reviewing programs and procedures that, to the greatest extent possible, ensure the highest possible academic achievement for all student athletes. The AD shall instill and maintain a culture and environment of learning, including programs for academic advising/counseling; priority of class attendance, grade point averages, NCAA academic progress rates (APR) along with the NCAA and federal graduation rates.
  • Constantly reinforcing the U’s Mission by utilizing best efforts to ensure that all academic standards, requirements and Rules are observed and satisfied, including not only those pertaining to student athletes, but also pertaining to recruiting prospective student athletes.
  • Always promoting student welfare via educational, social, emotional, psychological and physical development and well-being.
  • Recruiting, hiring and managing the Department’s coaches and administrative staff and maintaining a close, open, communicative, nurturing and supportive relationship with same, while simultaneously establishing a firm culture of accountability for the Mission and the Rules.
  • Keeping the Department constantly competitive, by creating a focused, purposeful culture of athletic excellence through the winning of championships. That’s NOT winning at all costs. Minnesota’s legacy comes from compliance with the Rules; superior coaching & preparation; unmatched dedication and work ethic; competitive facilities; and an unbreakable team-first culture that permeates the Department at all levels.
  • Ensuring that the Department has adequate and appropriate plans, policies, procedures and programs that are in constant compliance with the Mission and the Rules. The AD is ultimately responsible for the creation, enforcement, interpretation and review of Minnesota’s intercollegiate athletic plans, policies, procedures and programs ensuring same is in accord with the Mission and the Rules.  Consulting regularly with athletics compliance staff and immediately reporting any differences of opinion to the office of the President.
  • Ensuring, at all times, the fiscal/financial integrity of the Department, including, but not limited to, developing systems, plans, budgets, business strategies, etc. to anticipate, track and report all expenditures, and to identify and pursue higher revenue opportunities without sacrificing the Mission or the Rules. The AD is also responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of the capital budget for capital projects, including facility renovations & repairs, new facility design and development, the negotiation and purchase of new property, plant and equipment, etc.
  • Fundraising not only for the betterment of the Department, but also for the betterment of the University, the Mission and the overall welfare of the U’s students. This includes both individual cultivation and stewardship, and implementing a corporate sponsorship and marketing strategy.
  • Negotiating (and/or managing the negotiation of) all major contractual obligations of the Department, including but not limited to arrangement with the Big Ten, BTN, other media outlets, marketing partners/sponsors; equipment, apparel & service provider deals; other obligations as needed.
  • Representing Gopher athletics with, and maintaining highly effective working relationships with, the Big Ten, BTN, NCAA, NACDA and other relevant constituencies, including but not limited to associations, conferences, committees, alumni, students, faculty, administrators and staff.
  • Representing Gopher athletics (in appropriate circumstances) in both the Twin Cities and in greater Minnesota and with the local and/or national media. The AD should be a strong, dynamic public speaker, comfortable on camera (but never seeking the limelight).
  • Promoting the U’s constant commitment to equal opportunity, diversity, inclusiveness and compliance with the Rules, including without limitation Title IX. The AD must have an authentic and deep personal commitment to equal opportunity at all levels of the Department and be able to instill and promote such personal commitment across all Minnesota constituencies.

Preferred Qualifications & Traits:

  • Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s or other post-graduate degree in athletic administration, education, business, law or related field preferred; an intellectual curiosity and commitment to lifelong learning; demonstrated commitment to academic integrity and student athlete graduation rates.
  • Absolute personal and professional integrity underpinning a deep knowledge of and experience with the Rules as defined above, and track record of success in meeting all compliance standards for such Rules.
  • Demonstrated experience advancing all aspects of diversity and inclusion, assuring gender equity and full compliance with Title IX; a strong personal commitment to diversity.
  • Strong preference for individuals who have learned and mastered the craft of intercollegiate athletics administration, including many years’ work experience at institutions of higher education; completely comfortable working with student-athletes, coaches, administrative staff, compliance staff, faculty, university staff, alumni and other stakeholders within the “shared governance” environment of a modern university.
  • Progressively responsible management experience involving the executive administration of Division I intercollegiate athletics programs; deep knowledge and track record of experience with fiscal/financial planning, budgeting, reporting; strong, focused and firm fiscal/financial business management skills.
  • A proven ability and track record to fundraise for and manage major capital projects; comfort level with sales and marketing for “experiential” products and services and/or consumer products.
  • Extensive experience in guiding student-athlete focused success, including programs for academic advising/counseling; priority of class attendance, grade point averages, NCAA academic progress rates (APR) along with the NCAA and federal graduation rates. Individuals who were collegiate athletes preferred.  A vision for crafting and continually nurturing a high quality student-athlete experience.
  • A strong track record of identifying, recruiting, hiring, training, mentoring, and managing coaches. Minnesota seeks an individual with world-class ability to build relationships.
  • World class people, communication, collaboration and team building skills including but not limited to strong written, verbal, listening, communication and interpersonal skills with demonstrated eagerness to interact with, understand and relate to students, coaches, faculty, staff, regents, alumni, media, etc. The AD must embody and balance the tone and tenor of an educator, coach, business leader and public servant.
  • Comfort level working with the President and other senior level faculty and staff at the University to think through, develop and ultimately express Minnesota’s views pertaining to the future of intercollegiate athletics. Minnesota seeks a visionary individual to continue the University’s leadership role in helping to shape and guide the evolution of college sports.

Nominations & Applications: CLOSED AS OF APRIL 29, 2016

The University of Minnesota has retained Turnkey Search, a subsidiary of Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, (“Turnkey”) to assist in the recruitment and review of all applications and nominations.   Turnkey is now requesting applications from men and women who meet the qualifications and preferences specified herein.  Applications and nominations should be submitted electronically HERE. To ensure full consideration, application and/or nomination materials must be received by NOON, FRIDAY APRIL 29, 2016. The position will remain open until filled.  Review of nominations and applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity/affirmative action/ADA employer.

UPDATE: March 23, 2016: Search committee and search firm announced

Here's the news release announcing the search committee and search firm seeking candidates to become the new Gopher Athletics Director.

Here are President Kaler's prepared remarks for the news conference announcing the search committee and search firm.

UPDATE: February 12, 2016: Search launched

Here's President Kaler's announcement upon the launching of the search, with his proposed timeline.

Gopher Athletics home page

Search committee members

  • Co-chair: Katrice Albert, Vice President, Office for Equity and Diversity
  • Co-chair: Perry Leo, Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, and Faculty Athletics Representative
  • Duke Anyanwu - Gopher student-athlete; Member, Advisory Committee on Athletics
  • Shari Ballard - President of U.S. Retail, Best Buy Corporation; Trustee, University of Minnesota Foundation
  • Jeremiah Carter - Director of Athletic Compliance; former Gopher student-athlete
  • Kevin Cattoor - Chief Operating Officer, Foodsby; Former Executive Vice President, Minnesota Twins
  • Bob Cunningham - Retired business owner; Member, President’s Club, University of Minnesota Foundation
  • Marty Davis - President & Chief Executive Officer, Cambria: Member, Intercollegiate Athletics Leadership Council
  • Emily Hoover - Professor of Horticulture; Faculty Athletic Representative
  • Lisa Kihl - Associate Professor of Kinesiology; Chair, sub-committee on Equity and Diversity, Advisory Committee on Athletics
  • Lisa Lissimore - Associate Director, Minnesota State High School League; Former Gopher student-athlete
  • Hugh McCutcheon - Head Coach, Volleyball
  • Deborah Olson - CEO & Chair, Nelson Laboratories (retired); Member, Intercollegiate Athletics Leadership Council
  • Darrell Thompson – President, Bolder Options, Former Gopher student-athlete
  • Tom Vannelli - Director of Corporate Sales & Marketing, 3M Championship; Former Gopher student-athlete
  • Kevin Warren - Chief Operating Officer, Minnesota Vikings; Trustee, University of Minnesota Foundation


February 12, 2016: Search is launched

March 23, 2016: Search committee and search firm named

April 6, 2016: Job description and how to apply


Search firm

To assist with the search, nationally-recognized Turnkey Search has been retained, led by Len Perna. Turnkey Search, based in Haddonfield, N.J., is a subsidiary of Turnkey Sports and Entertainment. Len can also be reached at 856-685-1450.

Search committee

Co-chair: Katrice Albert, Vice President, Office for Equity and Diversity

Co-chair: Perry Leo, Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, and Faculty Athletics Representative

Full search committee membership