Search committee to review AD candidates

It’s been almost two years since Kristin Parnell resigned as Emerson’s athletic director, and now at long last the 12-member search committee assigned to fill the vacancy will meet on Jan. 30 to pare down what Dean of Students Ronald Ludman said is a list of over 90 applicants to become Emerson’s new permanent athletic director.

Ludman is the athletic department’s administrative overseer and the chair of the committee, which he said will shrink the list to a smaller group of semifinalists, whom they will then interview via Skype in the first week of February.

“I think [we’ll] look at who are the most competitive candidates and make a decision how many meet that threshold of competitiveness, whatever we as a group determine who are folks that we would like to consider,” Ludman said.

After the first round of interviews, Ludman said the committee will then select three or four finalists to visit the Emerson campus for in-person interviews in the second half of February. Ludman said the names of applicants will be kept confidential until the second round of interviewing occurs.

“There will be opportunities for different groups of people from around the campus to meet these folks and provide some input,” Ludman said.

Former associate athletic director Stanford Nance has been operating as interim athletic director since Parnell parted ways with the college on May 25, 2012.

Ludman told the Beacon in September that Nance was “welcome to throw his hat into the ring,” but said on Wednesday that for confidentiality reasons, he cannot confirm that Nance is among the applicants.

Nance, who joined Emerson as an assistant athletic director in 2003, declined to address the topic when approached by the Beacon on Wednesday.

“All I can say is that, personally, I love Stan,” said junior baseball player Julian Rifkind, one of two student-athlete representatives on the search committee along with senior softball player Tatiana Motevalli-Oliner. “I’ve always had a good relationship with Stan since I came on my visit when I was still in high school. He made an effort to come meet me and my parents and he’s a great guy.”

Rifkind was a member of the 14-person Athletics Working Group, which was formed in the lead up to Parnell’s resignation to identify areas of need within the athletic department as Emerson transitioned from the Great Northeast Athletic Conference to the New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference. Rifkind said Ludman recruited him to be part of both committees.

The other nine members of the AD search committee are women’s basketball head coach Bill Gould; women’s lacrosse head coach Margaret Moore; faculty athletic representative Michael Brown of the journalism department; director of academic advising Lynn Butkovsky; board of trustees member Al Jaffe; associate vice president for student financial services Ruthanne Madsen; vice president of diversity and inclusion Sylvia Spears; director of enrollment technology Christopher Wright; and 1977 Emerson graduate Rob Rudnick.

That group will select two candidates to recommend before Ludman and President M. Lee Pelton make the final decision.

According to Ludman, an offer will likely go out in the beginning of March.

Ludman said students should not expect an immediate change, because the new AD will have to provide notice to his or her current employer.

“We’ll make the offer that the person will hopefully accept, and then we’ll make arrangements in terms of transitioning,” Ludman said.

Rifkind said he has had “casual conversations” with many student-athletes since Parnell’s departure and feels confident about representing their interests.

Former Emerson men’s basketball player Kabir Moss began an online petition calling for Parnell’s firing in February 2012. The petition, which cited a breakdown in communication with student-athletes, had received 243 signatures at the time of her resignation, including several then-current athletes. Parnell’s tenure was highlighted by the controversial departure of longtime men’s basketball coach Hank Smith, and, on the women’s basketball side, 1,000-point scorer Olivia Dinucci’s decision not to return to the team for her senior season in 2011-12.

“I think I have a well-rounded idea of what other people think as well as what I think would make a successful AD,” said Rifkind. “It should be prior experience running an athletic office. You want somebody who is able to communicate well with all the coaches and can handle the workload of 14 different varsity sports, and you want somebody who will also be able to connect with the students.”

Back in August, Emerson finally got the ball rolling on an AD search when it retained the services of Alden & Associates, a Massachusetts-based executive search firm that focuses on high-level athletic administrative searches. The group has consulted in athletic administrator searches for four other NEWMAC schools.

Ludman told the Beacon in November that Alden recommended the current timeline. The firm visited the Emerson campus in November and posted the position earlier in January.

“It’s been a process,” Rifkind said, “but you want to make sure that before you go in to make a big decision that you have all angles covered.”

Ludman said Alden collected and ranked resumes, and will help perform background and reference checks on applicants. Alden also helped develop a list of relevant questions to ask the AD hopefuls.

“I think it’ll be a good thing for the school, a big change,” said Rifkind, “and everybody should be excited about it.”


Assistant sports editor Mike Lucas did not edit this story because he is a member of the men’s basketball team. 


Assistant sports editor Connor Burton did not edit this story because he is a member of the men’s volleyball team.