Quantcast

«

»

Apr
08
2017

#ACC Leading the Way in Hiring Female Athletic Directors and Management Personnel (H/T @AAdelsonESPN)

AD-heather-lyke.MikeD_-300x200

Good evening, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) fans.  Hope you are enjoying some of the early ACC spring football games.

Just a quick post for tonight – saw this great story from Andrea Adleson of ESPN – and we are really glad that she is bringing attention to this.  The ACC is leading the way in hiring females athletic directors and management personnel – I’m taking some selected quotes below (mostly about Heather Lyke’s recent hire as Athletic Director at the University of Pittsburgh h/t @PittsburghPG):

Football coach Pat Narduzzi sat on the committee charged with finding a new athletic director for Pittsburgh. His favorite candidate, Heather Lyke, ended up getting the job.

Narduzzi rattles off the reasons she stood out. “Heather’s really sharp. She’s very passionate, she’s got energy. She’s got vision and she’s not close-minded. She understands every situation’s different. She’s a former athlete. Where she’s worked in the past has developed her into a great AD.”

…..

Lyke got her first athletic director job at Eastern Michigan in 2013. The football program ranked as one of the worst in the entire country. Among her first hires was football coach Chris Creighton. He had a vision for the program and Lyke shared it. They both believed they could win there despite the years and years of losing, and losing badly.

How do you instill that same belief in players? Especially after another 1-11 season in 2015? The two looked at the MAC bowl lineup and thought perhaps the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl could be a goal for the players. To get to the Bahamas, everyone would need passports. So Lyke ordered everybody associated with the football program, plus staff, to start applying well before the 2016 season began.

Then Eastern Michigan became bowl-eligible in early November. Lyke sat on a MAC bowl call later that month when somebody in the league office asked, “Who’s ready to go to the Bahamas?” Lyke immediately answered, “We are!”

To surprise the players with the bowl announcement, she had staff members go to a nearby Popeye’s and bring back 115 empty boxes, normally used for chicken meals. Other staff members went to nearby stores to find anything beach-related, quite an endeavor in Michigan during early December. They filled the boxes with the beach trinkets, then gift-wrapped each one.

The boxes were placed under the seats in the team meeting room. Early the following morning, Creighton called a team meeting. Players were shown a video put together just for that moment, then they unwrapped the boxes to find their bowl destination.

“I knew if we did something like that, it would be a difference-maker, in the sense that the players would say, ‘You bought us passports because you believe we could go?’ So that’s what it was all about,” Lyke recalled recently. “It was about supporting the coach in what they were trying to accomplish and helping to try to create a unique way to instill belief in a team. I believed we could do it. Why not?”

…..

“We’re in a different era,” Narduzzi said. “It’s not how you handle football. It’s how you handle people. She knows how to handle people. She’ll be able to manage people the right way and she gets it, and she’s got a strong personality and I think it comes down to that.”

The ACC has been somewhat of a flag-bearer in this regard. Not only is the conference the only one on the FBS level with two female athletic directors, as Lyke joins trailblazer Debbie Yow at NC State, it also is the only one with an important trifecta. Multiple women hold jobs as athletic directors and deputy athletic directors overseeing football. Virginia Tech has a female director of football operations.

Plus, two former ACC staff members are now commissioners (Bernadette McGlade in the Atlantic 10 and Amy Huchthausen in the America East).

“While there’s still work to be done and the numbers aren’t where they should be, progress is being made,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said. “More and more women are in leadership positions, and it’s important that there continues to be more opportunities for female administrators to gain the experience that best positions them to be ADs and commissioners.”

Let me tell you something – it was hard as hell to win at Eastern Michigan – seriously damn hard (Eastern Michigan had a reputation as the worst job in NCAA Division I football a few years back – quite frankly, it’s not far removed from that).  And Heather Lyke hired the coach that made it happen for Eastern Michigan football.  If I’m Kevin Stallings, I’m thinking that I have a short time to produce results on the basketball court.

More  from the Andrea Adelson above:

The ACC has been somewhat of a flag-bearer in this regard. Not only is the conference the only one on the FBS level with two female athletic directors, as Lyke joins trailblazer Debbie Yow at NC State, it also is the only one with an important trifecta. Multiple women hold jobs as athletic directors and deputy athletic directors overseeing football. Virginia Tech has a female director of football operations.

These are great developments.  Something excellent that will come out of hiring more women athletic administration managerial positions at ACC universities (and other universities) will be increased emphasis on Title IX compliance; having a woman as an athletic director will be a big benefit.  This isn’t something that people talk about very often, but I do believe it is true.

Thanks again to Andrea Adelson for writing about the ACC’s leadership.

Make sure you follow the All Sports Discussion Twitter account at @AllSportsDACC and please like our Facebook Page


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>