Opinions, Editorials

In Martin Jarmond, BC Finds Perfect Fit for New AD

After Boston College announced that Director of Athletics Brad Bates would not have his contract renewed and would seek an opportunity with Collegiate Sports Associates, we argued that the next hire made by University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. would be “the most crucial hire in the program’s history.” At no time in its history, save for the point-shaving scandals that plagued men’s basketball in the late ’70s, has BC Athletics been at a lower point in terms of public perception.

This athletics savior had to have ample experience running a program in the Power Five, particularly in football and men’s basketball. Whoever the next AD would be, we said, must be capable of surrounding themselves with people who had similar experiences working with these two sports, given how crucial each is financially to the University. This AD would have to revitalize and convince donors to return to the Flynn Fund, especially as three major infrastructural projects begin for athletics in the replacement for the Flynn Recreation Complex, the Brighton Athletics Complex, and the indoor practice facility adjacent to Alumni Stadium. At the same time, the next AD would have to be ready to lead a program that hosts more varsity sports than any other school in the ACC. And they must be ready to face the harsh Boston media and a ravenous fanbase desperate to return to winning—or, at least, return to being competitive.  

In Martin Jarmond, BC may have surpassed all of our expectations, not to mention those of fans—and, perhaps, many with the University itself.

The 37-year-old Jarmond, the former deputy AD and chief of staff of The Ohio State University, was by far the most eligible candidate on the market, and without question a better choice than any of those we could have suggested. As deputy AD, Jarmond was the sport administrator for football, men’s basketball, baseball, men’s golf, and women’s golf. He was also in charge of football scheduling and led several major committees. Between OSU and his time at Michigan State University, Jarmond has personally raised over $250 million in the last six years.

Given his many years with two of the nation’s athletic blue bloods, Jarmond knows exactly what goes into building a winner. With his track record, he has the ability to convince BC’s hungry donors to invest in the University’s athletic programs, especially at this critical construction juncture. In Columbus, Jarmond has seen what good facilities are supposed to look like. And Ohio State has the most varsity sports in the Big Ten Conference, with 28, so Jarmond will have experience balancing a hefty mix of teams.

Jarmond brings youth and exuberance to the position as the youngest AD in a Power Five Conference. As a member of University of North Carolina-Wilmington’s men’s basketball, Jarmond also showed he is a natural-born leader and winner. He walked onto the team, yet became a captain as a senior. Jarmond was a member of the Seahawks’ first-ever NCAA Tournament team.

Jarmond, who is black, will be one of BC’s two highest-ranking administrators of color, alongside Vincent Rougeau, Dean of the Law School. This is important for an athletic department that does not have a single minority head coach, and only has five black full-time assistant coaches: football’s Rich Gunnell; men’s basketball’s Stan Heath; women’s basketball’s Yvonne Hawkins and Jesyka Burks-Wiley; and women’s soccer’s James Thorpe. Now, BC’s soon-to-be most public face in the media will help buck the trends of a University which has garnered a tradition of homogeneity, as news sources such as The Boston Globe have contended in the past.

Speaking of the media, Jarmond has already shown a willingness to be open. He reached out personally to The Heights on Thursday shortly after he was announced, as well as to writers at The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, and BC Interruption. Jarmond also has shown a pattern of quickly responding to emails from fans. It is a special brand of openness unseen over the last several years.

If we were to nitpick, Jarmond has two flaws. First, given that he has never been an AD, Jarmond has never had to directly hire or fire a coach. At Ohio State, Jarmond has also seen a run of success typical of one of the nation’s blue blood programs—the Buckeyes have been stable with Urban Meyer and Thad Matta running the football and men’s basketball programs, respectively, for longer than Jarmond’s tenure in Columbus. That being said, Ohio State’s bio on Jarmond claims he has been involved in the hiring and firing process. The only way for one to be involved in direct hiring and firing is to be an AD, but Jarmond’s experience with a Power Five still surpasses what BC might have gotten from an AD at a lower-tier athletic program.

Additionally, if there’s any program BC cares a lot about and Jarmond does not have a lot of experience with, it’s hockey. But even then, both the men’s and women’s programs essentially run themselves. Jerry York and Katie Crowley are arguably the two best coaches in the country at their craft, and will help Jarmond ease into the two sports.

When announcing his opening, BC provided comment from several ADs, including North Carolina’s Bubba Cunningham and his former bosses, OSU’s Gene Smith and MSU’s Mark Hollis. They, among all others, have praised BC for the hire. We are no exception. Jarmond is the perfect fit for a school that needed one at the most critical time. Nothing is a sure bet in the world of athletics hirings, but Jarmond is as close as you can get.

Correction: An earlier version of this editorial neglected to note Vincent Rougeau, Dean of Boston College Law School, as a high-ranking administrator of color at the University.

April 24, 2017