Sports » Athletic Director Search | Oct. 14
Students said they want an athletic director committed to bettering the athletic department at the first open forum in the search for the next athletic director on Monday.
The committee was formed in order to replace Gary Walters ’67, who announced in early September that he would step down as Princeton’s Ford Family Director of Athletics at the end of June. He has served as athletic director for 20 years.
“It’s an open search,” Deputy Dean of the College Clayton Marsh said in response to sophomore hurdler and sprinter Teju Adewole, who asked whether the committee is considering current staff members. “We are looking at possibilities in all directions.”
Marsh was joined in leading the open forum and hearing suggestions from students by junior middle blocker Tiana Woolridge of the women’s volleyball team and junior club swimmer Eric Wang, the two student representatives on the search committee. Wang is also the co-captain of the club swimming team and member of the Club Sports Executive Council.
Marsh encouraged the six students who were in attendance at the open forum to share what they believe are the most important challenges facing the athletic department and what qualities they hope to find in the next athletic director.
“One of the big things that came up was having someone committed to bettering the program every year,” sophomore thrower Julia Ratcliffe said, referencing conversations she has had with her teammates. “Things stay the same because it’s the way they’ve always been done, but I think there’s a lot of room for student feedback on the ways that things can be changed.”
The feedback she suggested included feedback on coach evaluations, training schedules and things like team uniforms. She said she wants to move away from a “one-size-fits-all program” and move toward a program that can give different resources to different athletes.
Senior jumper Imani Oliver of the track and field team said that she would like to see a new athletic director who could work with athletes to make their athletic and academic balance at the University better by creating an explicit academic program for athletes.
“I think we would benefit greatly from something that is geared especially toward athletes,” Oliver said. She acknowledged that programs like the McGraw Center and the Writing Center can be helpful for athletes but said that it’s hard to be able to effectively help the athletes unless “they’re actually looking at the athlete experience.”
Oliver added that she would also like to see more attention given to the varsity athletics.
“I definitely think that student-athletes, because they play such an important role on campus, could be given more social attention on campus,” Oliver said. She said that athletic events should be advertised in the same way that the University advertises the Orange and Black Ball, for example.
Freshman running back AJ Glass said he would like to see the University appoint Jim Bartko, the executive senior associate athletic director for development at the University of Oregon, to the position. Glass said that Bartko is very outgoing and has close ties to Nike, which sponsors the University’s athletics. Bartko would also be interested in the role of Princeton’s athletic director, Glass said.
“There’s going to be no one with the connections that he has that can benefit the school and the athletics as well,” Glass said.
Ozioma Obi-Onuoha, a sophomore on the women’s rugby team, said that she appreciated that Walters has created an LGBT-friendly athletic department, and she hopes the new athletic director could continue this progressive streak.
Ratcliffe added that another good characteristic for an athletic director would be for the athletic director to get to know all of the athletes, not just the star athletes.
“All sports should be given equal priority,” Oliver said at the end of the meeting.
The forum took place at 8 p.m. on Monday evening in McCosh 10. The next forum is for faculty and staff and will take place on Tuesday.