On September 30, or about two weeks from now, Boston College Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo will leave his post after a decade and a half. There has been a great deal of change since those days, but what Boston College and those surrounding the athletics program must now focus on is the change to come with a new athletic director. My alma mater must take this hiring very seriously, as the next decade and a half of BC sports could depend upon what happens this Fall, and the effects of his or her tenure could last even longer.
When considering the matter of who this new athletic director should be, there are certain elements to take into mind. Conversely, there are details that actually deserve to be overlooked.
Of the items that should be strongly considered, one is experience. This does not mean Boston College should look for someone who has been an athletic director for 30 years elsewhere and is on the down-slide of their career; it means this school must seek someone competent who has worked in the annals of Division I college athletics before and is not unfamiliar with department operations in a program at this level. Said individual need not currently be an athletic director at another school — for all we know, our eventual hire could be a solid, rising-star assistant at a program of significance.
Another factor to take into place is their demeanor for the job. One would think the school ought not pursue a candidate who has a propensity to meddle in the athletics programs of his or her choice. We’ve got that now, and it has set our most major revenue sport (in terms of money) back by years. The ideal athletic director, him or herself competent, would seek to hire other competent people as staff and empower their worthwhile coaching hires to do the same. Insisting that certain assistants be retained as prerequisites for potential new coaches is a bogus practice. A good hire would strive to make all of our programs successful by picking the best candidates available as head coaches and letting them thrive on their own.
Familiarity and demeanor are two very important criteria, but willingness to reach out to the fans is something many on the outside would like to see as well. Boston College has a lot of outreach work to do with the fans, and the new athletic director should be someone willing to throw the alumni and others a bone. There are so many areas in which the full program needs to be more fan-friendly, from tailgating to seating to overall fan experience. We do not need an athletics director that continues to allow football tailgaters to be chased off the lot like children, or one who empowers security guards to be wholly anal-retentive about not letting some students go behind the basket at Conte Forum when nobody is sitting there. BC must hire an athletic director who realizes that the fans are valuable and works to draw them in, not push them away.
Speaking of alumni, there are certain items of false criteria that should be ignored. The foremost would have to be BC alumnus status. Boston College is not obligated to hire a former BC player or other alum to be the athletic director. In fact, hiring someone on the sole basis of “Collegium Bostoniense” appearing on their diploma would be hiring them for the absolute wrong reasons. We know quite well that when it comes to “loyalty” or “hiring one of our own,” sometimes, you can get it wrong. A new athletic director from another program is just as capable of coming to love Boston College as anyone who went there. Requiring the new hire to be a BC alum artificially limits the candidate pool, to our detriment.
Another point to be dismissed is cost. To be blunt, now is not the time for Boston College to cheap out. Applying basic logic, a great athletic director will implement positive change, improve program packaging, and bring in solid coaches. Those coaches, in turn, will put forth a good product. When BC has a good product, fans will return and the school will make more money. There is no real reason this school has to search the discount shelves and cross their fingers that things will work out when, in theory, a home-run hire will help pay for itself in the long term.
Whichever path Boston College takes with this hire, it will hopefully be a catalyst for optimism and an improved product. This athletics program has a lot riding on what happens in these following weeks and months, so they must make this moment count.