JSU seeks help in finding coach
by Al Muskewitz
The Jacksonville State athletics department, for the first time in school history, has solicited the help of an outside search firm to help identify its next head football coach.

Athletics director Warren Koegel said Saturday JSU has retained Gainesville, Fla.-based Carr Sports Consulting LLC to help find the successor to Jack Crowe.

JSU fired Crowe after 13 seasons a week ago Friday and within hours inquiries about the opening began pouring in. Koegel compared the response to the number of people living in China.

“They’ll just help with the total process, identifying candidates,” Koegel said of the search firm. “Even though candidates talk to me and I talk to them … they are able to coordinate it.

“We’ve discussed people, talked about a time line, exactly what the criteria is we’re looking for. It’s a good thing to bounce it off other people other than just throwing names out there. They give us another engine to work with to discuss who are interested and then when you get to the decision-making time you have a pretty good, thought-out feeling about somebody.”

Bill Carr, the firm’s principal, is a leader in the field. The former University of Houston and Florida athletics director has conducted coaching searches and feasibility studies for some of the top athletics programs in the country, including studies for Troy, Alabama State and South Alabama advancing from Division I-AA to Division I-A and AD openings at Toledo, South Florida and Navy.

All the candidates for the JSU vacancy will apply to the search firm, but the interviews will be conducted by the university. Administrators were still trying to determine a timeline for the hire.

“They know people,” Koegel said. “They refine what we’re looking for … and assess what candidates have done or can do. Resumes do that, too, but it’s different when people know them and met them.

“I know some of these candidates well. Some, I don’t know at all. They help facilitate the process.”

Attempts to reach Carr were unsuccessful.

In a 2012 Forbes Magazine story, Carr was quoted saying understanding a school’s “values, priorities, (and) social dimensions” were the key to finding the right coach.

“I want coaches to win,” Carr said in the story, “but it’s more important to understand other priorities and expectations [of the athletic director].”

Koegel said experience will be important, but the Gamecocks also are interested in a coach with high character, a strong football background and who cares about student-athletes.

“We are a university and we do play within the rules of the NCAA and the Ohio Valley Conference and those are the people we have to answer to,” Koegel said. “We’re going to find a coach who can come in here and coach the university, but that doesn’t eliminate some people because they haven’t worked at this university or somewhere else. We’re looking for the best fit for Jacksonville State.”

Previous coaching searches at JSU – including the current search for the Gamecocks’ next women’s soccer coach – have been conducted through an internal search committee that reviewed the pool of candidates and recommend finalists to be interviewed by the administration. Asked if hiring CarrÕs firm eliminates the need for an internal committee in this case, Koegel said “not in that context.”

Carr noted in the Forbes story search firms don’t decide who gets to coach where, and ADs occasionally go against a firm’s recommendation, but they play a significant role in informing the final decision.

And they are paid handsomely for it. Forbes reported fees can range from $50,000 to $250,000. Koegel deferred to Carr to discuss the fee for its services. The Anniston Star has requested a copy of the contract under the Alabama Open Records Act.

Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.
© 2012