The search for Keene State College’s new athletic director is almost at the finish line.
According to Chair of the Search Committee and Associate Physical Education Professor Dr. Wanda Swiger, the search is winding down. “I feel pretty confident that we will fill the search and have an athletic director in place by July 1,” she said.
Swiger said that all three finalists have been on campus. The first finalist is Dr. Kristene Kelly, who serves as the Faculty Athletic Representative at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Kelly’s biography on saintaugfalcons.com stated that she is also the chair of the Department of Business, Management and Technology and assistant professor of sports management.
The second finalist is Kelly Scafariello, who serves as Associate Director of Athletics at Salve Regina University. According to her biography on salveathletics.com, Scafariello served as the acting director of athletics from July 2015 to January 2016 at Salve Regina. In addition, she has worked at the Division I and III level, and has coached volleyball at the collegiate level.
Currently at Salve, Scafariello manages day-to-day operations, compliance, academics, retention, game management and sport oversight.
The third finalist is Dr. David Diles, who is a veteran athletic director with 20 years of experience, he is currently filling that role at Virginia Military Institute, a Division I institution. According to his bio on vmikeydets.com, he has held that role since November of 2013. He also has served as an AD at the Division III level at Case Western Reserve University from 2005 to 2013.
In addition, Diles has had stops at Division I level as an athletic director at Eastern Michigan University from 1999-2005. While at Eastern Michigan teams won 21 Mid-American Conference Championships. Prior to Eastern Michigan, he was athletic director at St. Bonaventure University, another Division I school, for five years.
Interim Athletic Director and Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Kemal Atkins said the college is looking for someone with a number of qualifications. “We are looking for an athletic director with a wide range of experiences,” Atkins said.
He said those qualifications include NCAA compliance and federal regulation. Atkins also addressed Title IX. The college athletics department came under fire when the report released by McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton Law Firm was highly critical of former athletic director John Ratliff, who resigned on May 31.
“Title IX goes beyond [sexual harassment] it a lot of things including equity in athletics. Harassment it is a broad category and we certainly want someone in a leadership position that has breath and depth,” Atkins said.
Swiger said Title IX was something that the search committee considered. “I think that it was a strong piece of it and in fact if you look at all of our candidates they understand that Title IX is not just a gender piece, but there is also the sexual harassment piece,” Swiger said.
Swiger said she believes the committee did a good job screening the candidates in that regard. “The committee did a very good job of teasing out which candidates understood those two components, not just looking at it singularly as one thing,” Swiger said.
Of the search committee, Swiger said, “It’s pretty diverse. I think Kemal really wanted to have a strong presence from a lot of different community and individuals on campus. All the different stakeholders who are going to interact with athletics.”
The committee includes members from a number of departments within the college. Some of those people include the advancement office, residential life, office of disability services, coaches, the college’s sports information director and even two student athletes.
Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President and senior men’s lacrosse player Mike McBournie said his committee’s role in the search is look out for student athletes. “What we are looking for in an athletic director is who we want to represent us,” McBournie said.
McBournie said they are just not looking at the athletic aspect of the search. “We are looking at finance; how to run the business aspect. We are making sure they are good fit for Keene State, but also the town of Keene. We don’t want to bring anybody in here who we don’t think will last a while here,” McBournie said.
Atkins said the most important thing for the new athletic director is “their commitment to students and our student athletes.”
Swiger said the search commit will put forth its recommendations once all candidates come to campus. She said, “We do not rank them; we simply list here are the strengths of this candidate and here are the weaknesses of this candidate. We’ll do that with all three of them. Those will then go to Kemal.”
Swiger added that the new athletic director would be hired once Atkins and Swiger meet with Keene State President Anne Huot.
Atkins said the college is excited about the search as well as the strength of the candidate pool. “I think it is a great time to be at Keene State College. It is a great opportunity for new leadership and a leader who can contribute to sustain the success the department has had,” Atkins said.
Brian Clemmenson can be contacted at email@example.com