Director of Athletics

Posted in on 03/15/2013

Merrimack College

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North Andover, MA


North Andover, MA

Description :

Merrimack College invites nomination and applications for Director of Athletics.  The position is available immediately.


The only Catholic Augustinian College in New England, Merrimack College is an independent, co-educational institution with approximately 2,250 undergraduate and graduate students who hail from more than 23 states and 25 countries.  Merrimack features rigorous academics, small classes and a close-knit, active residential community; all located roughly 20 minutes north of Boston, Massachusetts.  The College offers bachelor’s degrees in business, education, engineering, liberal arts and science programs and Master’s degrees in education, management, and engineering. The College also competes in a full range of men’s and women’s Division II sports, offers Division I men’s ice hockey and is building a corresponding Division I women’s ice hockey program.

The College has recently welcomed a new administration, helmed by Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D., a driven and entrepreneurial leader committed to Merrimack’s achievement and distinction.  Under Dr. Hopey’s direction, Merrimack has sought to identify and develop those qualities that make it unique among its competitors, in accord with its ten-year strategic plan, The Agenda for Distinction.  A deep seeded dedication to athletics is among the College’s defining qualities; 85% of Merrimack College’s student body are active in athletics, either intercollegiate, club, or intramural.  This affinity for athletics, combined with revitalization of the College and the innovative spirit championed by Dr. Hopey, creates an atmosphere rich with potential – especially as the College undertakes to move its athletics programs from Division II to Division I.


The successful candidate will be responsible for fundraising, building a culture of respect, transparency, and cooperation, and providing guidance and direction for the College’s athletics programs.  He or she will report to the Vice President of Administration, be a member of the President’s Senior Leadership Team, will aid the institution in developing and executing certain strategies for enrollment management and student satisfaction.

The ideal candidate for this role will be an adept manager of human resources and have the ability to connect with a variety of different constituencies and through such connection, develop partnerships and opportunities for development.

Specific Responsibilities are as follows:

Provide Guidance and Direction for the College’s Athletics Programs

The College is a member of the Northeast 10 and currently offers 22 varsity sports at the Division II level.  Merrimack’s men’s hockey program is Division I and competes in Hockey East.

The successful candidate will be well versed in the assessment and management of sports programs generally, as well as in sports communication/media relations, and game staging/event management.  He or she will have substantial experience in budgeting and resource management.

He or she will have, as well, the skills necessary to guide the College’s programs through changes and challenges that may result from a move of conference and to Division I.  As well, the College’s new Director of Athletics will share in the responsibility for the College’s continued implementation of and adherence to its Title IX resolution agreement.

Develop and Execute Strategic Plan for Conference Re-Alignment and Move to Division I

Merrimack College has undertaken preliminary inquiry regarding moving its athletics programs to Division I.  The successful candidate will have the ability to analyze a program’s strengths and weaknesses as those relate to qualities sought by Division I conferences.  He or she will be able to assess funding needed to support a quality Division I program, as related to personnel, facilities, and operations.  He or she will be able to develop a budget, personnel, and facilities plan to arrive at that ultimate goal, within the constraints of limited resources for which there is competition.  He or she will have the professional presentation and decorum necessary to, in conjunction with the President, and where appropriate, Trustees and other senior staff, serve as the College emissary to potential conferences.

Create and Capitalize Upon Fundraising Opportunities

In addition, the Director of Athletics will work with the President, Vice President for Administration, Vice President for Development, Trustees, and other senior administrators in identifying fund raising needs for the department and building a plan to raise those funds.  As well, the Athletic Director will be charged with creating new relationships with potential partners and cultivating those currently in existence.  The Athletic Director will serve as a trusted advisor in identifying, cultivating, and securing major philanthropic and corporate investments.

Support a Culture of Compliance and Accountability

The Athletic Director should have a broad knowledge of NCAA rules, as they relate both to Division II and Division I, and be able to interpret and apply them.  He or she will also be responsible for learning other rules and policies, including a student conduct/integrity code.  In addition to familiarity with the above, the Athletic Director will be primarily responsible for ensuring the department’s compliance with NCAA and conference rules, College policies and procedures, as well as with local, regional and federal law, as applicable.

As well, the Athletic Director will be expected, to adhere to applicable laws and regulations, as well as to act in accord with and support of the College’s mission.

Strengthen Alumni, Community, and Conference Engagement

The College community is a significant source of Merrimack’s strength, history, tradition and spirit.  The Athletic Director will have a record of engagement with key constituencies and be able to develop – in cooperation with other campus leaders including the President, the Vice President of Administration, the Vice President of External Relations, and the Vice President of Development – a plan to engage, re-engage and to sustain the engagement of alumni and the College community (both on campus and external).  This endeavor must include an ability to listen to these various constituencies and to find ways in which the Athletic Department might be useful to the College in its efforts to establish new connections, to revitalize ones that have been lost, and to sustain those we have made.

Recruit, Supervise, and Mentor Coaches and Other Staff

The Athletic Director will be responsible to manage the personnel of the athletics department.  Currently, the department has over fifteen full time employees, including Associate Athletic Directors with responsibilities for communications, marketing, and operations, a Manager of Recruiting and Eligibility, and several coaches with varying degrees of responsibility for administrative affairs.  In addition, the department currently employs over 40 part time coaches and interns.

This is a young, enthusiastic, and able department in need of strong and experienced leadership and direction able to build community and consensus.  The College anticipates that the staffing needs of the department will both change and grow in the immediate future.  The Athletic Director will be an experienced personnel manager, able to articulate a staffing and mentoring strategy that encourages professional growth and success where possible and make hard decisions when necessary.

Serve as a Trusted and Reliable Team Member

The Athletic Director will be a member of the President’s Senior Leadership Team.  In that capacity, he or she will be the representative voice of the Athletics Department to the College’s senior decision-making group.  He or she will articulate an innovative, bold, well-developed vision for Athletics, while working to advance agreed upon institutional priorities. The Athletic Director will need to be a cooperative team member dedicated to the good of the institution as a whole, but being able to speak on behalf of the department without reserve.  He or she must inspire confidence and trust.


The successful candidate for this position will be a dedicated, energetic and motivated athletics professional committed to the College’s ideals, to his or her department, and to the quality of the student athlete experience.

The new Athletic Director will understand the nature of athletics generally as it interacts with other areas of a growing institution, but will also exhibit the willingness and ability to understand the College’s own constituencies and those constituencies’ particular needs.

Key qualifications include:

  • superb communication skills and ability to communicate ideas to diverse constituencies;
  • demonstrated success in the management and growing of NCAA governed athletics programs;
  • demonstrated success in identifying and capitalizing upon fund raising opportunities, including major gifts;
  • experience in positions with progressively more responsibility across Division I and Division II institutions;
  • upper level experience supervising staff and programs within a sophisticated athletics program;
  • reliable ability to build and lead diverse teams and to build consensus among them;
  • proven ability to work effectively in a collaborative environment with peers, subordinates and hierarchy;
  • ability to engineer and design work flow processes, teams and plans;
  • experience in setting fundraising targets and managing to fundraising to goals;
  • bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 10+ years of relevant experience, master’s degree preferred;
  • an ability to embrace the culture and values of Merrimack College.

To be successful, the Athletic Director must be:

  • a clear and persuasive communicator and patient listener, able to relate to and inspire confidence of all constituencies of the College—faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, parents, board members, etc;
  • a seasoned individual fundraiser who is experienced with systematically communicating, identifying, cultivating, and recognizing major and principled gift prospects and donors;
  • a high‐energy, results‐oriented leader, willing to travel domestically and internationally;
  • committed to transparency, team work, accessibility, and opportunity and able to imbue the department with those values;
  • deeply knowledgeable about best practices and new trends in athletics, especially as they relate to enrollment management, student athlete experience, Division I and Title IX;
  • creative and determined, willing to take measured risks to accomplish goals;
  • an innovative thinker, able to communicate new ideas with dedication and enthusiasm;
  • ethical and demonstrate the highest degree of personal integrity; and
  • flexible and adaptable, work with limited resources, and deal with adversity, change and competing priorities;
  • able to define his or her own place in a rapidly changing residential college community committed to its Catholic Augustinian mission and values.



College History

Merrimack College was founded by the Friars of the Order of St. Augustine at the behest of then Archbishop Richard Cushing of Boston and local business and community leaders who were looking for a private school to serve the higher education needs of the growing Merrimack Valley population, especially GI’s returning from World War II. Originally called the “Augustinian College of the Merrimack Valley,” the College was built on farmland at Wilson’s Corner, in North Andover, Massachusetts. The first entering class in 1947 consisted of 165 men taught by a full-time faculty of 13. In 1950 the College became coeducational, accepting 11 women. To existing undergraduate degree programs in education, business administration, and the liberal arts and sciences were added civil engineering in 1951 and electrical engineering in 1954. In 1961 the College became residential. The College changed its name to Merrimack College in 1969 and has continued to grow, adding degree programs in the health professions and graduate programs in education, management & engineering and serving an increasingly diverse student body.

College Campus

Located on a 246-acre campus some 20 miles north of Boston, the campus’s more than 40 buildings are clustered around tree-lined walkways and courtyards. An historic iron bridge, which once carried foot traffic over a canal of the Merrimack River, crosses a reflecting pool in one campus courtyard; a labyrinth for contemplation and outdoor sculpture by the College’s resident artist grace other areas. Notable buildings include the modern Sakowich Campus Center, the Rogers Center for the Performing Arts, the S. Peter Volpe Athletic Center, the Gregor Johan Mendel, OSA, Science, Engineering and Technology Center with rooftop observatory, and the historic Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher.

Vision for the Future

Merrimack College’s vision is to be a highly ranked, internationally respected, selective masters comprehensive Catholic college, which is residential, student-centered, professionally focused and rigorous in the liberal arts, sciences, and business.

We will advance this vision through excellence in classroom teaching and scholarship, diversity and globalization, the development of professionally oriented graduate programs, investments in faculty, the enhancement of student life and experiential learning, the expansion of athletics, and the refocusing of our values on our Catholic roots and the teachings and principles of St. Augustine.

Strategic Plan Priorities

In the fall of 2010, Merrimack College embarked upon a collaborative process of bringing together campus influencers and key leaders of various institutional stakeholder groups to discuss the future of the College, its aspirations, and opportunities. Through more than nine months of discussions, dozens of campus-wide faculty and staff meetings, as well as a Board of Trustees’ retreat, the a long-term strategy was developed with the simple goal of shaping
a vision for the future of Merrimack College and providing an overarching blueprint for achieving its success. The plan is called Advancing Merrimack in the 21st Century: The Agenda for Distinction.

The Agenda for Distinction identifies the strategic priorities of the next decade that will enable the College to fulfill its mission and realize the vision it has outlined for itself. The priorities include:

  • Create a modern, academic enterprise grounded in innovative teaching, learning, and scholarship
  • Develop a contemporary Catholic mission
  • Create an intellectually vibrant, socially engaged, entrepreneurial student experience
  • Inspire and engage our people, culture, and community
  • Strengthen our value proposition and competitive position

Merrimack College’s Agenda for Distinction sets a bold agenda for realizing potential and aspirations. Merrimack has the vision, energy, resources, and the drive to bring transformational change to the institution and our students, thereby creating a nationally recognized institution that produces ethical, creative, and experienced leaders.


Merrimack College welcomed Dr. Christopher Hopey as its new President in July of 2010, and he has appointed new Vice-Presidents for Administration & General Counsel, External Affairs, Finance & Academic Affairs. The new Athletic Director will thus be joining a renewed administrative team that has the opportunity to bring fresh energy and ideas to the College.

How to apply :

Applicant review will begin immediately and continue until an appointment is made by the President. Applications should include a letter of interest, resume and five professional references with e-mail and telephone numbers. References will not be contacted without prior authorization from the applicant. The search will be assisted by Linda Murphy, Assistant Vice President. Contact: (978) 837-5131; email: Applications should be sent electronically (MS Word or PDF Format) Linda Murphy, Assistant Vice President. Compensation is outstanding and comparable to larger aspirational institutions. An excellent benefits package is included.

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