Sweet Briar College invites inquiries, applications, and nominations for an experienced, innovative, committed, and collaborative professional to serve as the next Athletics Director. This is a unique opportunity for a high-energy professional with a shared leadership approach to maximize the talents of a high functioning team in creating vibrant and engaging programs, activities, and student support within Athletics. 

Sweet Briar seeks a director who understands how to leverage the unique opportunities for growth and advancement at the college; fosters high standards of integrity, athletic excellence, and academic success; has strong management and fiscal skills; is able to develop excellent relationships with both internal and external constituents; and directs and hires coaches who are committed not only to winning but to the welfare of student athletes and to compliance with the rules.

About Sweet Briar College 

Sweet Briar is a liberal arts college for women with a long history of forging female leaders. After a near closure in 2015, the College was saved by its alumnae and underwent dramatic transformation. Today Sweet Briar College is repeatedly named by the US News and World Report as one of the most innovative liberal arts colleges in the nation. Sweet Briar College is financially stable and actively growing again, attracting students who are drawn to it for its excellent liberal arts program, coupled with distinctive programs in women leadership, engineering, sustainability, arts and its legendary equestrian program.

Located in the foothills of Virginias Blue Ridge Mountains approximately 12 miles north of Lynchburg and 54 miles south of Charlottesville. Its campus is one of the nation’s most spectacular, replete with nature sanctuaries, lakes, forests, trails, and most recently, vineyards, apiary and greenhouses.

The College boasts a modern core curriculum focused on womens leadership in the 21st century and undergraduate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching. It is one of only two womens colleges in the United States with an ABET-accredited engineering degree. The women’s leadership core curriculum is innovative and energizing. When students graduate, they are persuasive communicators who know how to think on their feet and bring people together. No matter what they study or where they go, Sweet Briar women are prepared to lead. The campus community is a family of faculty, staff, coaches, and alumnae who support and encourage students and each other. With an average class size of eight students per faculty, students lead research, ask questions and forge supportive relationships with faculty that can last for decades.

About Athletics

Sweet Briar is a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) and is dedicated to the NCAA Division III philosophy of making athletics an integral part of the educational experience and creating an opportunity for student-athletes to become well-rounded individuals and an emphasis on academic excellence. 

The College offers 8 varsity sports programs, as well as an equestrian program that is one of the oldest in the nation and the most renowned among those at liberal arts colleges. In 2021, the riding teams captured both the ODAC Championship (their sixth) and the NCEA Single Discipline National Championship. The facilities are top-notch and the College continues to invest in the future of riding with a newly renovated facility. The campus has 2,840 acres of wooded countryside, foothills, dells and open fields.

The College has invested in a state-of-the-art turf field that will be completed in August 2022. The new field will become the home for field hockey and lacrosse and dramatically update the student and spectator experience for field sports. With more than 30 percent of students participating in athletics, the new field will elevate Sweet Briar’s athletic facilities, making the College more competitive with peer institutions. Because the new turf field will be more durable than the grass field, Vixen Athletics will be able to offer club programs in ultimate frisbee, flag football and other sports. Throughout the year, including the summer, the College will also be able to bring outside users to campus and host events like high school playoff games, camps and clinics.

About the Position 

Reporting directly to the President, the director works to create programs and strategies that support the optimal student athlete experience and leads a department of approximately 22 professional staff and coaches that foster an inclusive environment.

Major responsibilities include:

  • Provide strategic vision, leadership, resource management, long-range planning, and overall supervision, administration and advocacy for athletics.
  • Serve on the President's Cabinet and advise the leadership team on issues relating to athletics and serve as the primary liaison for the department.
  • The role requires strong supervision, management, goal setting, innovation, budgetary responsibility, assessment, and engagement with the college community.
  • Provide visionary leadership, strategic planning, and policy development for athletics.
  • Maintain an athletics program that is committed to the College’s mission and strategic priorities.
  • Collaborate with Alumnae Relations and Development in seeking fundraising opportunities for the department.
  • Administer the overall athletic budget including revenue, recruits and manages the athletic staff and ensures compliance with all NCAA and conference policies, rules, and regulations.

In addition to the responsibilities stated above, institutional stakeholders identified the following list of additional capabilities and attributes of the next director:

Create a vision for athletics: The next director will create a clear and unified departmental vision, mission, and brand by working with a successful and engaged coaching and administrative staff. There should be clear and measurable definitions of success that promote competitiveness, student leadership development, and institutional student success priorities at a liberal arts institution that is reflective of both the institutional mission and the goals of the NCAA Division III. Staff should feel encouraged, challenged, supported, and confident about how they contribute to the vision.

Dedication to academic excellence and student success:  The department is committed to creating experiences for student-athletes that enhance their educational experience to become leaders in an ever-changing global society. The director will exhibit a commitment to promoting student success.

Strategic recruiting: The next director will partner with the office of admissions to recruit and retain scholar-athletes of distinguished academic capacity and optimize roster management and athletics department objectives.

Effective spokesperson for the Department and Sweet Briar College:  The director will effectively represent the department within the campus community, ODAC, and NCAA events, meetings, and conferences. The director will be an excellent communicator who can promote the department and the College. 

Experienced manager of resources and personnel: The director will need experience managing independent, self-motivated staff and coaches who are committed to success. The director will also require experience with budgeting, planning, and assessment to manage the department.

The Successful Candidate

The ideal candidate will be a self-starter, highly collaborative, dynamic, empathetic, and patient. Strong hands-on experience in all facets of athletics is essential. The candidate should desire to work in a collegial, vision-minded atmosphere with ample amounts of both challenges and laughter. It is important that the successful candidate create a culture that supports teamwork, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances the retention of staff and coaches. 

The successful candidate will have a strong track record of success in developing strategies to support the college’s admissions goals. The individual must have a clear vision as to the critical role that athletics plays in the recruitment and retention of students. A track record of sound fiscal management and financial acumen is needed. As the leader of the department and member of the President’s leadership team, exceptional communication and organizational skills are mandatory as is the ability to manage a portfolio of work in progress. The successful candidate will also have an impeccable track record of integrity as well as knowledge of best practices and latest trends.

Position Duties & Responsibilities

  • Proven ability as a strong supervisor who is skilled in building a sense of team, maintaining open lines of communication, offering relevant professional development opportunities to stay current in the field.
  • An understanding of the role of enrollment at a small, private college, and demonstrated strategic planning acumen.
  • Collaborate with Facilities and other campus stakeholders to develop short and long-term capital investment plans to ensure facilities are properly maintained and enhanced to support strategic priorities.
  • Develop and implement policies, programs, procedures to ensure compliance with NCAA Division III athletics, college rules and regulations, and Title IX regulations.
  • Create an open and welcoming environment that actively supports prospective and current students-athletes and their families.
  • Develop and administer departmental standard operating procedures.
  • Represent Sweet Briar at state, regional, and national conferences and meetings. As well as forge connections and regularly dialogue with other institutions that have similar athletic programs, and be involved in professional associations to ensure the athletics program remains innovative.
  • Must have demonstrated short- and long-term planning skills, coupled with the ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships and communications with faculty, administrators, staff, students, student organizations, alumni, friends, and the local Amherst community.
  • A commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social responsibility.
  • Act as a leading campus advocate for the value of athletics.

Qualifications

Candidates for the position of Athletics Director must bring a personal energy and commitment along with professional maturity to the position. A minimum of seven years of progressive leadership experience in collegiate athletics administration, recreation, or a closely related field and a Master’s or advanced degree is required. Collegiate coaching experience is strongly preferred.

Additional Skills and Abilities Sought:
  • Enthusiasm for and demonstrated commitment to supporting student athletes.
  • Evidence of creativity and innovation in problem solving and strategy implementation.
  • Strong organizational and project management skills, and ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment.
  • Exceptional oral and written communication skills and the ability to communicate complex issues with clarity.
  • Demonstrate integrity, drive, and vision.

How to Apply

Interested candidates should send, as two separate documents, a resume and a letter of application that relates skills, abilities, knowledge, and professional experiences to the stated qualifications for the position and notable achievements. The packet should be sent to: ADSBC@wspelman.com

Confidential review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment is made. It is preferred, however, that all nominations and applications be submitted prior to August 29, 2022. For additional information please contact: Megan Spelman at (585) 750-7091 or Megan@wspelman.com.

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Sweet Briar College is committed to enhancing our community and encourages applications from qualified individuals with varied backgrounds, experiences, and ideas who would increase the diversity of the College.

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