Athletic director Cheryl Levick said she hopes to hire Georgia State’s next football coach as early as mid-November. If that can’t happen because of the next coach’s commitments, she wants to make the hire no later than Jan. 1.
Levick is looking for someone to succeed Bill Curry, who announced in August that he’s going to retire from coaching after the season. The Panthers will finish the season at Maine on Nov. 10.
“For recruiting, the sooner we can hire the better,” she said. Levick said she doubts the next coach will be named before this season is over.
She estimates 50 candidates have contacted her or one of the assistant athletic directors about the job since Curry announced his decision to retire after spending the previous four years building the program.
The hire takes on added importance because Georgia State is leaving the Colonial Athletic Association, which plays football on the FCS level, for the Sun Belt, which plays football on the FBS level, next season. The team is 0-5 this season and attendance is the lowest it has been in the program’s three seasons.
Levick said she prefers to hire someone with previous head-coaching experience because they understand everything that’s required to run a program. She also prefers someone who has knowledge of the fertile Southeast recruiting area. The pay package will likely be between $400,000-500,000.
To help, Georgia State’s athletic association contracted Parker Executive Search on Monday to assist in narrowing the list of candidates. Levick said she chose Parker because they are an Atlanta-based company, which will allow her to meet with them as often as needed. She liked that they have a database of information on candidates that can be analyzed, which includes everything from where that coach recruits, to video clips of them being interviewed, as well as any potential red flags such as NCAA violations.
Levick used Parker to assist in the hiring of men’s basketball coach Ron Hunter, whom Levick said has many of the traits that she wants from the next football coach: leadership, an ability to motivate, a good recruiter and someone who enjoys their job and working with student-athletes. Hunter led the team to a 22-12 record.
“He’s a winner on and off the court; those are the characteristics that I’m after,” she said.
Levick said she has asked Curry to provide any recommendations he may have. She met with Curry, the assistant coaches and then the players to Monday to tell them about hiring Parker. In those meetings, she told the assistants that she wants to meet with them individually to gauge their interest and to hear any recommendations they may have. She hopes to schedule those meetings within the next two weeks. She said gave the players a sheet of paper with an e-mail address for Parker so that they can anonymously recommend candidates. She also asked the players what characteristics they want in the next coach. She said they want what most people want: a motivator, a leader and someone who can keep building the team.
Levick said this year’s winless results haven’t affected the search because she hasn’t spoken to any candidates. The reaction from fans and declining attendance (the program had the smallest crowd in its three-year history two weeks ago) also haven’t affected the process, she said.
“I have received as many positive e-mails and calls of support to encourage us to understand that we are building a program, to understand that we have a long way to go, but to hang in there and keep moving forward, to not be distracted and to stay on track to get this programs moving,” Levick said. “The folks who understand what we are trying to accomplish here understand.”
Asked what she would say while recruiting the next coach, Levick said she would tout the work Curry and his staff have done in its first few years, the new practice facility, with a state-of-the-art locker room and training facility, the academic reputation of the university and the quality student-athletes.
While Levick said she believes the next coach needs to have some public relations skills, she said his primary focus will be on hiring a staff and recruiting so that he put his thumbprint on the team.
“I’m looking for someone to come in and take this program to the next level, to not be afraid to roll up his sleeves and dig in and shoot this program to the top of the Sun Belt Conference,” she said.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu