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Next Bull In: Buffalo Athletic Director prospects without UB ties

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As spring sports get underway, Buffalo is still without an AD

Photo Courtesy of UB Athletics

With UB’s athletic director search well underway by Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search, the only crop of possible AD’s we haven’t explored are those with no ties to UB. This is obviously the biggest pool of qualified applicants the the site has explored so far and because of that I kept a few things among others in mind:

1. Do they have exceptional fundraising experience?

This one is huge for the next UB AD. Being a part of a state university system that doesn’t designate a flagship is tough. Bringing in more dollars is the only way that Buffalo can be a dominant mid-major school like it wants to be.

2. Where have they been?

We want an AD with a lot of connections. The biggest problem with some of the Buffalo-Area candidates is that they don’t have as large of a networking pool than someone who’s been at multiple universities across the country.

3. How is on-field success where they are at/have been? Have they been a part of a head coach search committee?

Both parts of this are obvious, but important. The last thing UB needs is to hit a decline in its recent success, especially when a new head coach needs to be hired. Nate Oats is probably not going to be here for long (fingers crossed though). If Leipold continues the upward trajectory, his name and history alone could get him hired away to greener pastures.

So without further ado, here’s my shortlist and why I think they’d be a great fit:

Vic Cegles, Deputy Director of Athletics, UConn

This guy is the full package if you want to go with someone without UB ties. Cegles is one of the top guys at UConn right now but his resume from his time before the Huskies is more impressive.

Cegles spent a decade at Long Beach State and oversaw a department that collected 36 Big West titles and had 70 postseason appearances in that span. The department also had a six year span of winning the conference’s Commissioners Cup. To top it off, he was named Athletic Director of the Year in 2014-15.

As for fundraising, he’s done that incredibly well too. He oversaw a $25 million capital campaign that included locker room renovations, stadium scoreboards and video boards, and a baseball training facility.

Before UConn he oversaw media relations at Arizona State for 16 years, so he could really help out the athletic communications department at UB and take them in an even better direction.

Cegles might be a bit of reach for UB, but he’s a Niagara Falls native, so they could sell the coming home aspect as well as he finishes out his career.

Karen Hatcher, Executive Sr. Associate AD for External Relations & Assistant Vice President for Development, Cincinnati

This would also be a spectacular hire for Buffalo. Karen Hatcher has an exceptional fundraising and marketing background that could mean the world to a school like UB.

She spent 22 years in the private sector as a marketing consultant and provided creative solutions for fundraising, client-relation management initiatives, and branding for Verizon, Outback Steakhouse, Mars Incorporated, and many charities. She’s also consulted NBA, NFL, and MLB teams.

Once Hatcher came to Cincinnati she hit the ground running. She’s managed relationships with IMG College, iHeart Media, and Fox Sports Ohio. She also inked a department-wide deal with Under Armour.

Even more impressive is her oversight in an $86 million renovation and expansion project for Nippert Stadium and an $87 million renovation project for Fifth-Third Arena.

Hatcher has also spent six years as the Director of Special Events for the Houston Astros.

Just think of the amazing things she could do for Buffalo.

Phil Esten, Deputy Director of Athletics and Chief Operating Officer, Penn State

Esten has spent his entire career working for Power-5 schools with stops at Ohio State, Minnesota, and California before getting the second-in-command spot at PSU. His strategic planning and fundraising skills have proven to be some of the best in intercollegiate athletics.

Probably his biggest achievement was managing the fundraising for Minnesota’s $90 million TCF Bank Stadium.

Mark Wright, Executive Associate AD and Assistant Vice President for Athletics Development and Ticketing, University of Central Florida

Not only would Buffalo poach somebody from Danny White in this scenario, but it’d be someone that’s witnessed the incredible upward trajectory UCF has been on in recent years. UCF is quickly becoming the standard of mid-major excellence and Wright’s work is partly because of that.

Wright currently oversees fundraising and development duties. He’s also tasked with expanding the donor base, a skill that UB really needs to keep making strides with.

He’s also had stops at Marquette, St. Louis, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, and Mercer in related roles. The experience from several types of athletic departments could be huge for Bulls Athletics.

So what do you think Bulls fans? Who else do you think should be on Buffalo’s radar?