Fresno State has hired DHR International, a Chicago-based executive search firm, at the cost of $70,000 to help hire a new athletic director to replace Thomas Boeh.
The campus will use $70,000 of non-state funds to hire the DHR consultant, according to the university.
Glenn Sugiyama, the DHR representative who will be conducting the search, is the company’s executive vice president and global practice leader of sports.
DHR representatives have “speciality practice areas” in which they concentrate on finding candidates for positions in certain markets. Sugiyama’s list of specialities include media and entertainment, sports, real estate and education. He is currently helping other campuses in searches, including Mountain West school Colorado State.
While global executive search firms are generally used for corporate entities, many schools nationwide have used DHR to help find head positions in their sports and athletic departments.
The campus, through its search committee, defines what it would like to see in a potential candidate. DHR then searches for those best suited for the position based on that rubric.
“Fresno State sets the criteria. DHR merely finds the best candidates that meet the requirements the university has set for its next AD,” said Merritt Norvell, a representative from DHR.
DHR has a “two-year guarantee” with its search services, which states that if a candidate selected by DHR is to be terminated or leaves within two years of being hired, DHR would immediately find another candidate on a pro-bono basis.
The option is “very seldomly used,” according to the firm’s website.
“Search firms are generally used to recruit a wider talent pool than an employer can attract on its own,” said Dr. Bill Bommer, professor of the management department at the Craig School of Business. “They have been common in the industry for many years, and their usage in academic settings has increased significantly in recent years.”
Bommer said the main positive executive search firms have over traditional methods is the broad reach within that particular industry the firms have. Search firms such as DHR International are also known to market themselves on their use of discretion in the search process.
“They will cold call a large number of people in the industry to see if they’re maybe interested in moving to a new job or know of other people who may be interested,” said Brommer.
But he also mentioned that there are negative aspects of using firms to fill a position.
“Search firms can be very expensive. In addition, there is always the possibility that a search may be more concerned with making a placement, rather than making a good placement,” said Brommer.
The same week as Fresno State began looking for a new athletic director, Colorado State University also hired DHR International to search for its own new athletic director.
Last year, College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts utilized DHR to find its new athletic director.
Bill Carr, a former University of Florida athletic director who now runs his own search firm, said in a 2013 USA Today article that 60 to 70 percent of Division I schools use executive search firms to find a coach or athletic director.
“Once the BCS money started flowing in and the coaching salaries became astronomical, then the search firms followed,” Carr told USA Today.
Brommer explained the cost of hiring a search firm in standard situations.
“Executive search firms generally base their fee on the salary of the position which is being filled,” he said. “Up to one year of salary is a common fee, so if the job pays $120,000 per year, the fee can run that high.
“I am not sure what the current AD makes or what a new person in the position will be making, but $70,000 is not an uncommon fee,” said Brommer.
Boeh, who had been Fresno State’s athletic director since 2005, took a newly created position as special adviser to Fresno State President Joseph Castro in August.
Steve Robertello, previously senior associate athletics director of intercollegiate services and Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, vice president for administration, are serving as interim co-athletic directors until DHR finds a candidate to fill the position.
Fresno State has declined further comment on the search beyond a four-sentence press release issued Sept. 5 announcing its partnership with DHR International.