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Old May 13, 2012, 06:24 PM   #1
james81
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Before reading the article, I was somewhat surprised about using a search firm. However, a key issue is the nature of the contract and, evidently, universities are not adept at creating coaching contracts, as evidenced by the $$$ Weber walked away with even though he got a new position.

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The university called on Parker Executive Search to help hire John Groce in March the same firm that helped recruit Thomas for the athletic director's job last summer. Parker was paid a total of $182,183 for the two searches a $90,000 fee for each, plus expenses. . . . The basketball search lasted just three weeks compared with almost three months for the athletic director's search but the university did not ask for a discount in the firm's $90,000 fee. High-profile coaching searches move rapidly, so the work is just packed into a tighter time frame, Parks said.

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/edu...hs-hiring.html
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Old May 14, 2012, 12:41 AM   #2
Holdemall
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$90,000 fee for each, plus expenses
You'd think the 90K would cover expenses, especially since they turned out to be a total of $2183-1.1% of the total cost. It's like Morton's charging you for the gas to cook the steak.
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Old May 14, 2012, 07:47 AM   #3
pizzaman
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They could have come up with the list of coaches they talked to by asking for suggestions on this site. Middlemen are only necessary to CYA, IMO. Doesn't the athletic department have an attorney for the contract?
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Old May 14, 2012, 08:50 AM   #4
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The article never addresses how these search firms are viewed by the "rock star" coaches. Would Smart or Stevens have been more willing to consider UI without the middlemen? Speculate all you want and justify their hiring by how often they do it but there are accomplished people in all professions who like to deal directly and not with agents, consultants and middlemen.

I'd prefer an AD with the confidence and b#lls to go get it done on his own.
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Old May 14, 2012, 11:07 AM   #5
Ransom Stoddard
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The article never addresses how these search firms are viewed by the "rock star" coaches. Would Smart or Stevens have been more willing to consider UI without the middlemen? Speculate all you want and justify their hiring by how often they do it but there are accomplished people in all professions who like to deal directly and not with agents, consultants and middlemen.

I'd prefer an AD with the confidence and b#lls to go get it done on his own.
I don't see this as an issue about confidence and cojones, I see it as a way to conduct back-channel discussions with candidates without it becoming a firestorm in the press, and allowing multiple candidates to be evaluated simultaneously. If a search firm reaches out to Smart and Smart gets asked if he is speaking to Illinois, he can honestly answer "No", and the same goes if the press asks the DIA if they're talking to Smart. This allows the conversations and negotiations to occur without the sideshow that the press and the blogosphere creates.

Having been on both sides of recruiting, I find it a lot more tasteful to have a headhunter talk to me rather than the corporation who hired them to fill a position. That lets me avoid the notion of "disloyalty" with my current employer should they discover that conversations are taking place.

As to your question about contracts, search firms rarely (if ever) have the clout to issue a contract. They may do some due diligence on desired terms, they may communicate some general parameters of what the employer is willing to offer, but the contract itself is executed by the employer.
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Old May 14, 2012, 12:48 PM   #6
DaytonIllini
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I am surprised to learn people have a concern about search firms. We use them all the time.

Whenever you want a highly qualified person who may be in a job they are comfortable with you need a search firm. You don't really want some unemployed guy or a guy reading the want ads. You want the guy that is wildly successful at your competitor, and never gave leaving a thought until he was approached. Nobody has time to do that and the loss of face with a highly visible job like a coaching vacancy when people publicly reject your feelers is too big to risk in my opinion. You cannot expect a successful coach to come to you. If you are not interested in them and it gets to be public, it hurts their stock.

Any coach that wants to negotiate directly would do that. It is only screening and evaluating interest levels that the search team is a specialist at usually.

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Old May 14, 2012, 04:01 PM   #7
Ransom Stoddard
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I am surprised to learn people have a concern about search firms. We use them all the time.

Whenever you want a highly qualified person who may be in a job they are comfortable with you need a search firm. You don't really want some unemployed guy or a guy reading the want ads. You want the guy that is wildly successful at your competitor, and never gave leaving a thought until he was approached. Nobody has time to do that and the loss of face with a highly visible job like a coaching vacancy when people publicly reject your feelers is too big to risk in my opinion. You cannot expect a successful coach to come to you. If you are not interested in them and it gets to be public, it hurts their stock.

Any coach that wants to negotiate directly would do that. It is only screening and evaluating interest levels that the search team is a specialist at usually.
Yep. The candidates who approach the school look like Reggie Theus, Eddie Johnson, and Chris Collins. The candidates that you talk to via a search firm are the real deal.
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Old May 14, 2012, 04:20 PM   #8
nicksmithfanclub
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You'd think the 90K would cover expenses, especially since they turned out to be a total of $2183-1.1% of the total cost. It's like Morton's charging you for the gas to cook the steak.
That's actually impressive if the expenses were so minimal -- these guys must not fly around much to visit prospective candidates in person.
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Old May 15, 2012, 08:10 AM   #9
Oskee Mayer
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The article never addresses how these search firms are viewed by the "rock star" coaches. Would Smart or Stevens have been more willing to consider UI without the middlemen? Speculate all you want and justify their hiring by how often they do it but there are accomplished people in all professions who like to deal directly and not with agents, consultants and middlemen.

I'd prefer an AD with the confidence and b#lls to go get it done on his own.
The Ron Guenther method?
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Old May 16, 2012, 12:18 AM   #10
Holdemall
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That's actually impressive if the expenses were so minimal -- these guys must not fly around much to visit prospective candidates in person.

Which makes one wonder what they're good for.
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Old May 16, 2012, 07:59 AM   #11
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I'm puzzled what anyone thinks this search firm actually accomplished in the hiring of Groce. It appears they did not successfully connect UI to Smart or Stevens (others?) Eventually UI got to Groce but that could have been accomplished without the search boys.

I just don't get it. If the UI wants a coach, let the AD make contact and negotiate a contract or when that fails, move on. If you're worried about background, an average private detective agency can determine whether there are skeletons ready to make an appearance for less than $10,000.

It just seems like the university and AD are hiding behind the search firm's recomendations.
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Old May 16, 2012, 09:08 AM   #12
Ransom Stoddard
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I'm puzzled what anyone thinks this search firm actually accomplished in the hiring of Groce. It appears they did not successfully connect UI to Smart or Stevens (others?) Eventually UI got to Groce but that could have been accomplished without the search boys.

I just don't get it. If the UI wants a coach, let the AD make contact and negotiate a contract or when that fails, move on. If you're worried about background, an average private detective agency can determine whether there are skeletons ready to make an appearance for less than $10,000.

It just seems like the university and AD are hiding behind the search firm's recomendations.
You seem to be suggesting that Smart or Stevens would have accepted an offer had they been contacted by Mike Thomas directly, rather than having been contacted by a search firm working on Mike Thomas' behalf. I haven't seen anything that would support this, as both coaches have a demonstrated history of turning down other offers and standing pat. The use of search firms is standard practice in hiring coaches at this level, so I think it has much more to do with convenience, plausible deniability, and efficiency rather than "hiding" anything.
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Old May 16, 2012, 09:18 AM   #13
Holdemall
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You seem to be suggesting that Smart or Stevens would have accepted an offer had they been contacted by Mike Thomas directly, rather than having been contacted by a search firm working on Mike Thomas' behalf.
I think the suggestion is that the search firms are a colossal waste of money, not that Smart/Stevens didn't come because of our use of one. Not sure what you get for 90k.
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Old May 16, 2012, 09:37 AM   #14
blmillini
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When you are paying the kind of money that coaches are now paid, it is simply the smart thing to do. It amazes me that smart people that went to Illinois don't get that. I'll assume it is the young and naive.

I much prefer this method over the Guenther way.
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Old May 16, 2012, 09:44 AM   #15
Holdemall
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When you are paying the kind of money that coaches are now paid, it is simply the smart thing to do. It amazes me that smart people that went to Illinois don't get that. I'll assume it is the young and naive.

I much prefer this method over the Guenther way.
I don't know that it is the "smart thing to do." It's certainly business as usual; after all, Thomas paid the firm which came up with him as the AD a nice chunk of change to come up with Groce as our bball coach. While I believe he is a good (the best?) choice for the position, I doubt that that 90 grand was necessary to find him.
Naivety is thinking one hand doesn't wash the other in this situation.
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Old May 16, 2012, 10:10 AM   #16
OrangeFever
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Originally Posted by pizzaman View Post
I'm puzzled what anyone thinks this search firm actually accomplished in the hiring of Groce. It appears they did not successfully connect UI to Smart or Stevens (others?) Eventually UI got to Groce but that could have been accomplished without the search boys.

I just don't get it. If the UI wants a coach, let the AD make contact and negotiate a contract or when that fails, move on. If you're worried about background, an average private detective agency can determine whether there are skeletons ready to make an appearance for less than $10,000.

It just seems like the university and AD are hiding behind the search firm's recomendations.
Today, search firms are part of the standard practice and widely accepted. No one person or even institution can turn over every spade of dirt.

In this case, did the search service assist with both basketball head coaching hires? Did it contribute to the assistant coaching and administrative position searches, too?

We may forget that while these significant searches were dual tracking, Mike Thomas and his staff had other matters to attend to, as well. It's not as though they could clear their desks of everything else and devote full time and more to the searches, though I'm sure in MT's case, it was his primary focus at least until the head slots were filled.

However the searches wer managed, the results look good, though it's still very early.
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Old May 16, 2012, 10:19 AM   #17
Holdemall
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Did it contribute to the assistant coaching and administrative position searches, too?
I think we can safely say they did not, considering that Groce appeared to be conducting his own search on that front.
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Old May 16, 2012, 11:40 AM   #18
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Today, search firms are part of the standard practice and widely accepted. No one person or even institution can turn over every spade of dirt.

However the searches wer managed, the results look good, though it's still very early.
I know its standard practice. All I and Holdemall are asking is what did the UI get for $90,000? MT returned the favor the firm granted him when it lead the UI to his door but after that, what? Do you really think Groce was hard to find? As for being young and naive, I'm 62 and hardly naive.

When the response seems to be "well everyone does it this way," there doesn't appear to be a real benefit. The UI just followed procedure. I guess that's OK, but I feel doing things like everyone else should be questioned.
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Old May 16, 2012, 12:43 PM   #19
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It seems to me that at the time this all went down, there was a comment made to the effect that using a search firm was at least in part due to making sure due dilligence was followed in the search. They had just come off the no vote by trustees with the Beckman hire and did not want a repeat. Ironically, it almost seems that they were poised to repeat once Smart and possibly others turned us down. There was also talk about the use of the firm since two searches were being conducted simultaneously. As far as whether this was all necessary, I am sure the search firm provided some assistance and benefit. As to whether or not 90K of benefit was acheived, it is the DIA's money and I guess they can do with it as they wish. The net result seems entirely satisfactory at this point.
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Old May 16, 2012, 02:56 PM   #20
Mark Seifert
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It seems to me that at the time this all went down, there was a comment made to the effect that using a search firm was at least in part due to making sure due dilligence was followed in the search
Yes, this is exactly it. No AD in the country needs a search firm to figure out Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens are two of the top basketball candidates out there.

But these hires virtually always have to happen very quickly, and it's prudent to get a read on whether your football candidate has a history of weekend outings on his Harley with University employees, for example.

Say you need to put together a comprehensive background file on your top 10 candidates in a week's time. $90k? Couldn't say for sure, but I could certainly see it getting expensive.

Last edited by Mark Seifert; May 16, 2012 at 03:01 PM.
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Old May 16, 2012, 03:53 PM   #21
nicksmithfanclub
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I'm puzzled what anyone thinks this search firm actually accomplished in the hiring of Groce. It appears they did not successfully connect UI to Smart or Stevens (others?) Eventually UI got to Groce but that could have been accomplished without the search boys.

I just don't get it. If the UI wants a coach, let the AD make contact and negotiate a contract or when that fails, move on. If you're worried about background, an average private detective agency can determine whether there are skeletons ready to make an appearance for less than $10,000.

It just seems like the university and AD are hiding behind the search firm's recomendations.
Whether a guy ultimately accepts a job or not doesn't really have anything to do with whether the search firm "successfully connect[ed] UI to Smart or Stevens." I also don't think anyone is trying to hide behind search firm recommendations, the search firm isn't going to favor one candidate over another, that's for MT to figure out. They just gather information and help run the process. And when you're talking about a $5-10M opening (or maybe even $20M), $90k really isn't a lot of money.
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Old May 16, 2012, 04:40 PM   #22
Holdemall
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$90k really isn't a lot of money.
Well, it's three tutors for a year.
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Old May 16, 2012, 04:44 PM   #23
danielb927
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Well, it's three tutors for a year.
Where'd you come up with that? I've tutored for the athletic department - I enjoyed it but it's definitely not a $30k a year job!

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Old May 16, 2012, 04:46 PM   #24
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Where'd you come up with that? I've tutored for the athletic department - I enjoyed it but it's definitely not a $30k a year job!
Well it would have been if they didn't waste it on the search firm!
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Old May 16, 2012, 04:48 PM   #25
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I guess if you did it full-time all year it would be pretty close, but most of the tutors are students working part-time. Any rate, not really important for the point at issue

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