Step one in the process of hiring a new athletics director for Mississippi State is complete. The school said today that Parker Executive Search, which is based in Atlanta, will lead the effort to replace Greg Byrne, who is leaving to be AD at Arizona. Parker was chosen out of a pool of 10 consulting firms, according to Kyle Steward, MSU's executive director for external affairs.
Parker has a good bit of experience in this area, having directed AD searches at schools like Arkansas, LSU, Georgia, Houston, TCU, Notre Dame and Washington, among others. It also led the search for the new Mississippi IHL commissioner, Hank Bounds, and the most recent Ole Miss chancellor, Dan Jones.
"I was impressed with him last summer when I was working with him. I was on the search committee that hired Hank Bounds," said MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum. "But again, looking at all the proposals – and again, we had quite a few – his stood out as the best."
The firm's president, Dan Parker, will be working directly with Keenum.
"He will bring candidates, he will vet them, he will bring candidates to the table for me to review, and he'll actually help recruit candidates on this particular job," Keenum said. "He will facilitate interviews, and he will work with me in actually doing the interview process. He'll be my partner in this search."
Keenum said candidates' names will be kept confidential. He added that no résumés have been received yet, but Keenum has gotten many calls, e-mails and letters from people supporting certain possible candidates.
"I want to get a good candidate to apply, and if we make their names public, they may not be inclined to apply," Keenum said.
I reported earlier this week that Jim Carr, the NAIA's president and CEO, will have his résumé submitted by a friend. I've heard other names as well, but not much beyond rumor and speculation.
Keenum said his timeline remains unchanged. He hopes to have a new AD by late April or early May. But, he reiterated what he said Monday after Byrne's departure became public: "We're not going to do anything hastily. We're going to make sure we're very thorough in this process, because it's important for our university."
Keenum would not disclose the cost of hiring Parker, but he said it will be paid for by private funds.