Search Party! Firm Scammed Rams For 250 Grand

Yesterday Colorado State Athletic Director Jack Graham introduced Jim McElwain as the school’s new football coach at a press conference in Fort Collins. The new CSU coach’s appearance and remarks to the large gathering of media and Rams fans was standard fare until McElwain opened the floor for questions from the media.

Instead of the initial media query being directed to McElwain, the man for whom the press conference was allegedly held, CSU Athletic Director Jack Graham was first asked, “what help you got from the search firm for the money that was spent, obviously that was a pretty big commitment.”

Why was that question more important than McElwain getting an opening day whack at a batting practice fastball from a crack Rams football fan scribe? Because Graham paid search firm Spencer & Stuart a staggering $250,000 for the arduous, week-long task of locating football coach candidates for Colorado State. (Eight days to be exact.)

Colorado State. 

Graham’s response to the $250,000 question:

The process to screen candidates for this position was thorough and professional. We began by defining the state of CSU football; understanding the state of football. We defined a brand. What do we have to sell at Colorado State?

“We talked about the characteristics of the head football coach that we wanted here, both the personal characteristics and qualities as well as technical characteristics and qualities, recruiting capabilities, et cetera.

We defined that profile and said this is the kind of human being we want to have lead our football program in this bold new era. And with that, we started with a list of 75 to 100 names.

“We dragged a comb through that list, narrowed it down to about 25, kept on working and debating. (We) came up with a list of 10, set up appointments and we hit the road and started interviews. It was very thorough.

We also had a guy sitting beside me who was a behavioral psychologist, a PhD, in behavior psychology. That helped me not just work on the back of gut and instinct and intuition, but rather objectively.

“What kind of a human being is this, how is he going to think, how is he going to lead, how is he going to manage? It was a very thorough process.

What Graham wasn’t asked, unfortunately, is why he decided to pay Spencer Stuart executive Jed Hughes well over double what Boise State recently paid Hughes for assistance with its athletic director hire.

The IDAHO STATESMAN reported on Dec. 2, 2011:

Boise State will pay Jed Hughes, a senior partner with the executive search firm Spencer Stuart, at least $107,250 — or one-third of the athletic director’s first full-year compensation package. Kustra said Hughes was the one who called his attention to Coyle.

The $250,000 to help Graham land McElwain was also well over double what Tennessee forked over to Parker Executive Search, perhaps the largest college coaching search firm in the country, to assist in the Cuonzo Martin hire last March.

On June 24, 2011, the KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL reported:

The University of Tennessee was contracted to pay Parker Executive Search $90,000 plus up to $20,000 in expenses in its quest to hire a new basketball coach after Bruce Pearl was fired.

While the $250,000 fee Colorado State was fleeced by Spencer Stuart’s Hughes may seem steep, it’s still over three times less than the $910,000 CSU recently paid former Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk to go away.

Why did they do that?

So Graham, a longtime CSU booster with no athletic administration experience, could name himself athletic director.

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