The search for Tennessee’s next athletic director is only a few weeks along, but I’m already discouraged.
Why? Because the search committee hasn’t sought my advice.
Perhaps the oversight can be attributed to stereotyping (i.e., the committee thinks my opinions are limited to after-the-fact critiques). Or maybe the committee doesn’t realize I have experience hiring people.
That experience isn’t limited to sorting out certified sociopaths from competent professionals in the interview process. I’m also adept at testing, as Kevin Ryan will attest.
Ryan is currently the editor-in-chief of 247sports.com, a flourishing website devoted to college sports. Our connection dates back to a copy editing test, which I devised and he took.
Although Ryan described the test as “crushing,” he did so well that he was offered the job on the spot. The test was subsequently deemed so difficult by a sports-department consensus that it was never imposed on another applicant. Ryan’s successful career now serves as a testament to the test’s validity.
I’m just as confident in my UT athletic director’s test, including the sample questions listed below. The test is designed to gauge a candidate’s ability to solve problems and think on his feet under deadline pressure. There are no right and wrong answers.
Candidates should be required to take the test orally in the presence of the search committee. Allow 30 seconds for each multiple-choice question, after which the candidates should be given another two minutes to explain the reasoning behind their answers.
1. Your football coach asks you to buy out of a non-conference game with Oregon because his program would run the risk of an embarrassing defeat. What would you tell him?
a. Our fans are accustomed to embarrassing defeats.
b. Recruit harder.
c. I’ll see if Buffalo is open that Saturday.
d. I realize our talent is still down, but you’re such a great coach that gives us a chance against anybody.
2. A local sports columnist writes that your football coach should be fired. How would you respond?
a. Fire the coach.
b. Call the publisher and threaten not to renew his sky-box seats unless he fires his sports columnist.
c. Call the columnist and tell him that — although you don’t always agree with him — you like his writing style.
d. Give the coach a $500,000 a year raise.
3. After your wife takes a job selling a new line of nutritional products, she asks you to facilitate sales to athletic department employees as well as student-athletes. What’s your reaction?
a. File for divorce.
b. Encourage athletic department personnel to take advantage of the dynamic new nutritional products now available to them at a discount price.
c. Inform athletic department personnel that for every $100 they spend on a certain new line of nutritional products, they will receive a $150 raise for the following school year.
d. Tell your wife the family can get by on one salary and emphasize what a dramatic impact she could have on the community by using her vast talents in volunteer work.
4. If you could save only one of the following from a burning building, who or what would it be?
a. Football coach Derek Dooley.
b. A wax figure of Peyton Manning.
c. A wax figure of Tee Martin.
5. Your basketball coach tells you he lied to an NCAA investigator about secondary violations. How do you handle the situation?
a. Have the team physician call NCAA officials and inform them your basketball coach is being treated for a psychological disorder that prevents him from telling the truth.
b. Offer the NCAA investigator a job in your compliance office at double his current salary.
c. Fire the coach immediately.
d. Give the coach a $500,000 a year raise and fire him at the end of the season.
6. A prominent detective agency offers its services free of charge to dig up dirt on the program of your choosing. Which program would you pick?
c. Southern California.
7. A major corporation offers you big bucks to put its name on your football stadium. What’s your next move?
a. Tell Mr. Big Business that Tennessee tradition isn’t for sale.
b. Offer the corporation naming rights to your football concession stands.
c. Try to convince the business to change its name to Neyland.
d. Give your football coach a $500,000 a year raise.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.