Column, Featured Column

Who Should Replace Brad Bates as Athletic Director?

One of the biggest complaints about Director of Athletics Brad Bates—who announced last week that he’s stepping down from the position in June—was that he ran Boston College’s athletic department like a mid-major program. Critics claim that Bates, previously the AD for Miami (OH) University, had trouble adapting to life in a Power Five conference, and that this lack of Power Five experience permeated throughout the department.

Unfortunately, none of the 65 ADs at Power Five schools are expected to pursue the vacancy at BC. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other qualified candidates who could help turn around the program. Without further ado, here’s an assessment of Bates’ possible successors.


Ed McLaughlin, Director of Athletics, Virginia Commonwealth University

McLaughlin is a BC graduate with a striking resume and an equally impressive Twitter game. At VCU, McLaughlin helped balance the department’s budget, as both overall revenue and fundraising for the Ram Athletic Fund has doubled since his arrival. Thanks to the success of the men’s basketball team, ticket sales skyrocketed during a school-record 83 game sellout streak. McLaughlin also brought in a guaranteed $22 million through a 10-year deal with Learfield Sports that outsourced multimedia rights for the first time in department history.

After head coach Shaka Smart left for Texas in 2015, McLaughlin was tasked with finding a replacement for one of the best young minds in all of college basketball. He hired Will Wade, a former assistant under Smart, and the transition has been nothing but smooth. Wade has led the Rams to a 48-16 record, including their first Atlantic-10 title in 2015-16. At only 34 years old, Wade is also rumored to be in consideration for the head coaching position at NC State next season.

Before VCU, McLaughlin served as Niagara’s athletic director from 2006-12. Under McLaughlin, the Purple Eagles won more conference championships in six years than in the previous 75 years combined, setting numerous attendance records along the way.

His lack of Power Five experience does raise eyebrows, but he does have an understanding of the NCAA’s inner-workings. McLaughlin is currently the Chair of the Atlantic 10 Council of Athletic Directors, and has served on several national college hockey committees throughout the years, including working closely with Merrimack and Hockey East. Considering the next AD will likely pick head coach Jerry York’s replacement, a thorough knowledge of New England college hockey is a big plus.

Boo Corrigan, Director of Athletics, Army

Corrigan was considered for BC’s AD job after Gene DeFilippo retired in 2012, and he’ll likely be a finalist again this year. In six years at Army, Corrigan has surpassed fundraising goals and upgraded several facilities, checking two key boxes for the open BC position. Army’s annual athletic fund grew by $3 million and the “For Us All Capital Campaign” improved by $55 million. Corrigan signed new deals with Nike and Coca Cola to bring in additional revenue, and established new endowments for 10 programs. He also started the construction of a new lacrosse building, added a huge video board to Tate Rink, and expanded Doubleday Field to include a press box.

Corrigan has guided the Black Knights to success on the field, as well. Last year, they posted their highest winning percentage (.581) since 2005, and the seniors were the winningest class since the Class of 1994. Most notably, Army football won the “Star” series with Navy and stole the overall series against the rival Midshipmen.

Dark Horses

Mark Jackson, Director of Athletics, Villanova

While it may seem like a longshot, stealing Jackson from Villanova might be the best possible outcome for the football program. The Boston native has an extensive background in football that includes working for the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders as a coaching assistant and Director of Football Development, respectively. He even played defensive back at Colby College.

Jackson has also worked to secure record donations from alumni during his time at Villanova. He capitalized on momentum from the Wildcats’ 2016 March Madness run by bringing in a $22.5 million gift from alumnus William Finneran to renovate the Pavilion. In addition, Jackson raised money to build new facilities for the football, field hockey, and baseball teams.

With a men’s basketball program that appears to be a national title contender for years to come, it may seem like a stretch for Jackson to now take the reins of a struggling BC basketball program. But if there’s any hope, it’s in the money: Jackson would probably be accepting a hefty pay increase if he earned a $650,000 salary like Bates did.

Chris Iacoi, Sr. Associate Athletic Director and Chief Financial Officer, UCLA

Iacoi is young, but his connections to the Heights should place him on the radar of search firms looking for BC’s next AD. The Rhode Island native graduated from BC in 2001 and earned his master’s degree from the Carroll School of Management in 2005. He spent 12 years in Chestnut Hill, first as an undergraduate worker, then as a Fiscal Coordinator and Business Manager, and later as the Assistant Athletic Director of Business Operations.

In 2014, he moved to UCLA, where his duties include being the main advisor to the head athletic director. Iacoi is a financial specialist who is often called upon to assess available resources during planning of new facilities and other major fiscal endeavors. He also helped negotiate lucrative contracts with IMG and Under Armour, both of which represented the largest deals in the nation in their respective areas at the time.

Desiree Reed-Francois, Deputy Athletics Director, Virginia Tech

Reed-Francois is among a select group of women at Power Five schools who help manage day-to-day operations of a high-level FBS football program. As Deputy AD, she recruited Justin Fuente to replace legendary head coach Frank Beamer, and so far the hire has been applauded by many. Reed-Francois is adept at handling student-athlete relations as a former student-athlete herself and law specialist.

What she lacks in experience as a head athletic director, she makes up for in her extensive knowledge of the ACC, especially in the football department.

Nicki Moore, Senior Associate Athletic Director, North Carolina

Like Reed-Francois, Moore hasn’t managed an entire athletic department. But she does know the ACC particularly well, serving as the Chair of the Atlantic Coast Conference SWA Committee. She also put in place UNC’s first full-time sport and counseling psychology position to facilitate the new Carolina Athletics Mental Health & Performance Psychology Program (CAMP).

Before UNC, Moore worked at the University of Oklahoma for 11 years as Senior Associate AD for Student Life and Strategic Planning, later occupying the role of Senior Woman Administrator. In college, she was a four-time captain of Missouri’s track and field and cross country teams.

Or Nah

Jim Paquette, Director of Athletics, Loyola

Paquette has a long history with BC that dates back to 1994. When DeFilippo began his AD tenure, Paquette was the first person he brought with him. Paquette’s biggest success came in the fundraising sphere, setting several fundraising records for BC during his 16 years with the department.

At Loyola, he has seen athletic improvements that have earned him national recognition. Last March, Paquette was named the Division I-AAA Athletic Director of the Year. But because of his affiliation with DeFilippo’s administration, Paquette probably shouldn’t be seriously considered for the AD position at BC.

Ken Kavanagh, Director of Athletics, Florida Gulf Coast

Dunk city! The first thing most fans think when they hear FGCU is the men’s basketball team’s Cinderella run in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. But Kavanagh has built a well-rounded program down in Fort Meyers—since he took over in 2009, the Eagles won 26 Atlantic Sun regular-season titles, 14 ASUN Tournament titles, and six Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) championships.

A 1982 BC graduate, Kavanagh has accomplished a lot at FGCU, but his shortcomings are the same as Bates’: he doesn’t know how a large Power Five program operates.

February 27, 2017