July 28, 2021
As wonderfully expressed in numerous messages of gratitude and best wishes, retiring McCormick Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen has had a far-reaching and positive influence on the lives of Creighton student-athletes and coaches. Bruce will always be a part of our history and our future, and I am grateful for his contributions as we begin our thoughtful, collaborative, and thorough process of identifying a new director of athletics.
With Bruce remaining in his position through Aug. 16, we are not announcing an interim athletic director at this time, as we focus our efforts on the implementation of this national, comprehensive search.
When beginning as president in 2015, I was eager to continue integrating athletics and other key areas of the University into positions of senior leadership, and I have enjoyed meeting these past number of years with Bruce to discuss the needs and strategies of Athletics. Additionally, appointing Bruce to the President’s Council has allowed his own good experience in leadership to be more accessible, allowing us to move more nimbly and effectively on various opportunities, from coordinating a more integrated approach to Athletics fundraising to realizing the construction of new facilities and more.
Since the announcement of Bruce’s retirement earlier this month, I have engaged in numerous collective and individual discussions with several of our head coaches, University and athletic administrators, and Athletics Department staff – including a department-wide listening session – and have reached out to a number of alumni, friends, trustees, and Jaybackers. I am grateful to these colleagues and Creighton supporters for their time, insights, and commitment, as these conversations have been incredibly instructive to me.
There were several consistent themes from these discussions that emerged, including what they would like to see in a new director of athletics: a dedicated advocate for our student-athletes and academic excellence; a passionate leader committed to fostering success at the highest levels across all of our athletic programs; a collaborator who can embrace and expand our broad network of relationships and support; and an administrator who can effectively navigate changing NCAA realities, including new rules regarding college athletes being able to now profit off the rights to their names, images, and likenesses.
Ultimately, we are looking for a leader who is a good fit for Creighton’s culture – someone dedicated to excellence, who will embrace our Jesuit, Catholic mission and lead Creighton Athletics into a promising and exciting future. We will be seeking a skilled administrator who will continue to advance the steps we have taken in light of the NCAA violation announced in June; who will work collaboratively with our outstanding coaches, Athletics staff, University leaders, and others on campus; and who will serve as a visible extension of the University and its values and mission with members of the community, alumni, fans, and supporters.
To assist us in this important search, we have engaged Collegiate Sports Associates (CSA), a nationally recognized search firm specializing in searches for collegiate coaches and athletic directors. Since its founding in 2010, CSA has completed more than 145 executive search projects in college athletics and more than 45 searches for Division I athletic directors. The firm has deep connections and familiarity with the BIG EAST and its member institutions, and its clients include some of the nation’s most successful programs from all levels of Division I athletics. While no timeline has been set, I have asked that CSA assist us in our search that is both comprehensive and expeditious.
To ensure that multiple, diverse voices are a part of this process and to help me identify our next director of athletics, I have created an advisory search committee composed of University and alumni leaders.
Jan Madsen, the University’s executive vice president, has agreed to chair the advisory committee. She brings extensive experience working closely with me on operations across the University as a member of my executive team and has profound knowledge of Creighton Athletics. Joining Jan will be Dan Burkey, BSBA’81, a Creighton alumnus and former Creighton senior vice president and member of the President’s Cabinet, who had oversight of Athletics during his tenure; Jim Jansen, JD’73, also an alumnus, President’s Cabinet member, and the University’s general counsel; Neil Norton, PhD, associate dean in the School of Dentistry and Creighton’s NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative; Sarah Walker, PhD, interim vice provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion; and Mark Walter, BSBA’82, a Creighton alumnus, member of the Board of Trustees, co-founder and chief executive officer of Guggenheim Capital, LLC, and chairman and controlling owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I am so grateful for their willingness to help, and I look forward to their insight.
I am excited about the future of Creighton Athletics, confident that the new athletic director inherits a program with great success, tradition, and recognition, bolstered by talented student-athletes who excel academically and competitively.
As we advance through the process, I look forward to providing you with additional updates.
Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD