Last year, Syracuse hired ESPN’s John Wildhack, the network’s Executive Vice President for Production and Programming, to manage its athletic department. Having no experience in athletic administration, one might think this to be a gamble. On the other hand, college athletics have certainly become a business, so why not get yourself a successful businessman with a proven track record.
This isn’t the first hire that bucks the norm. One only has to look at Dave Brandon, a former Michigan football player, who “took over as Michigan’s athletic director from his position as the chairman of Domino’s Pizza” That, however, turned into a mess. At Texas, Mike Perrin, a Houston trial lawyer, was brought in to clean up a mess of another kind.
On the other hand, Notre Dame’s Jack Swarbrick has certainly made his impact on college sports. He’s the school’s AD and a former partner at an Indianapolis law firm.
So, is there a trend here, or are these just the exceptions?
According to Dan Rascher, the director of the sport management program at the University of San Francisco, he describes this as a temporary trend unique in the fact that as reported in The Washington Post, “The professionalization of college sports is moving faster than the rate at which traditional administrators can be trained in the new expertise required to run the small corporations athletic departments have become. But in time, perhaps the span of a few years, traditional administrators will be people like Wildhack, or at least they will have been trained up through the ranks to develop his business-forward skill-set.”
More about Dan Rascher can be found at – http://bit.ly/2qaDV3I