Phase one of the Penn athletic director search is on its way.
In an open forum for faculty, staff and alumni, Provost Vincent Price — the chair of the search committee to find outgoing-AD Steve Bilsky’s replacement — answered questions and outlined plans for the search process.
According to Price, the first part of the process consists of reaching out to the community to find out what the committee should be looking for in a candidate, which was the stated purpose for the forum.
Running concurrently is phase two, Price said, which will involve seeking out a large and diverse pool of candidates. But Price insisted that this phase will be kept confidential.
The forum, which took place in Claudia Cohen Hall, had 20 attendees, including five members of the search committee. Penn men’s soccer coach Rudy Fuller, women’s lacrosse coach Karin Brower Corbett and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli were among those in attendance from the committee.
A few head and assistant coaches also came to the meeting — including coaches from gymnastics and swimming — each hoping to add input to the search process.
Before taking questions, Price mentioned that Daniel Parker, the member of Parker Executive Search who has been retained as a consultant for the search, has visited campus several times and toured facilities.
Price mentioned that one of the main reasons Penn chose PES as a consulting group was due to Parker’s prior experience with Ivy League searches.
The importance of the Ivy League’s “student-athlete model” and Ivy League values were central topics discussed during the forum. Price said the “fact that [Penn is] an Ivy League institution is an attraction to the right candidate,” emphasizing that those values will be considered.
The committee is looking for someone who will not only be the head of the athletic department but also bridge a “synergistic connection” between recreation and the student body, as the department of recreation made clear at the meeting.
On top of that, Price was clear that, while Penn doesn’t expect whomever is chosen to stay for 20 years like Bilsky, the job will “not be a stepping stone” to a bigger institution.
The forum also outlined some of the key qualities the committee will look for in a candidate. The abilities to manage the athletics budget, achieve transparency, develop coaches and staff as well as delegate tasks were mentioned by those in attendance.
The meeting closed with the topic of the current volatility in the NCAA and its effect on Penn. Whoever takes over the AD position will have to deal with an ever-changing landscape over the next decade and the issues of lawsuits currently facing the NCAA.
There will be another open forum today at 5 p.m. in Houston Hall for students interested in the AD search.