SVSU is taking its time in hiring a new athletic director following the retirement of Mike Watson in December 2017.
General Counsel John Decker has been serving as the athletic director in an interim capacity since Watson’s retirement. He had been in charge of athletics operations for a few months prior to taking over as Athletic Director.
Decker said there are a lot of moving pieces in the athletic department at this time and that the department will take its time with those pieces before opening an official search. Some of the areas the department is working on include academic advising and support functions, fundraising and compliance. Additionally, shuffling of teams and general adjustments in the GLIAC has played a factor, as the athletic department looks to remain in sync with what the conference itself wants to do.
“There are a lot of things that have kind of been in flux, and we’re going to take our time because we want to make sure that we have the right situation and organizational structure for SVSU,” Decker said. “So that we can match what our needs are with the qualifications of any candidates, we have to get our piece of it completed first.”
Decker added that there is no timetable for beginning a search, as the extensive day-to-day operations of athletics take up much of the department’s time. Once the search process does begin, a search committee will be assembled and the position will be publicized.
“Based upon the conversations I’ve had with people in lots of different places, I think the athletic director position at SVSU is going to be an attractive one,” Decker said. “We have fantastic facilities. … I think our tradition with our athletics programs over the years is going to be very attractive for a lot of candidates.”
One of the major roles of an athletic director at the Division II level is building relationships with potential donors and funders, as teams have a portion of their budget they must raise on their own.
Decker said that, while the details of what type of candidate the committee will look for have not been decided, there are basic qualities the committee will be looking for that include strong values, enthusiasm and energy.
“It’s going to be a person who is a strong leader,” Decker said. “Someone who has a lot of energy and passion for college athletics, who understands the Division II philosophy, which is having a balance of athletics, academics and community engagement.”