Athletics department looks for qualifications, not connections

Butler University’s athletics department may employ numerous Butler alumni, but a prior relationship with Butler is far from a job requirement.

Athletics Director Barry Collier said he looks for five things above all else when evaluating a prospective  department employee.

“(I look for) somebody that has high integrity, has a high level of intelligence, is a great communicator, has a high work ethic with a high motor and, lastly, would be the relative experience they bring,” Collier said.

Collier said Ken LaRose, a Butler alum who was recently hired to an associate athletic director position, fit all of these qualities. His time spent with

Butler—as a player, assistant coach and head coach of the school’s football team—is a beneficial bonus.

“(LaRose) was someone who was a student-athlete,” Collier said. “He didn’t have to be a student-athlete, but that was certainly a positive thing. In this case he was also someone who was a longtime college coach. (He) didn’t have to be, but (it’s) another positive thing.”

Sonya Hopkins, academic support coordinator, graduated from Southern Illinois University. She said  making the transition from one school to another came with one particular challenge.

“I don’t ever feel like I’ve been at a disadvantage outside of one thing, and that was my unfamiliarity of how the inner workings of Butler worked,”

Hopkins said. “There was a learning curve I had to experience and deal with, but that in no way, form or fashion prevented me from doing my job.”

Hopkins said she believes  a transition period comes with any new job, Butler being no exception. Despite the growing pains, Hopkins said she has benefited during her time at Butler.

“It’s really been enjoyable to meet a whole new group of people who are like-minded to myself,” Hopkins said. “It’s been fun to meet and have a whole new network of people in my life.”

Collier said hiring searches are never done with a specific goal of choosing someone with or without a connection to Butler.

“The majority of people we’ve hired in my almost seven years here are not Butler grads,” Collier said.

However, Collier said a connection with Butler would hardly hurt a candidate’s chance.

“Those five qualifications are far more important, but the fact that a person went to Butler, competed at Butler or coached at Butler would likely be a favorable addition to their consideration,” Collier said.

LaRose, who is in charge of athletic development in his new job, said he believes his experience with Butler makes his job that much easier.

“I saw it as natural for me to come here,” LaRose said. “I can tell the story of Butler dating back four decades and beyond.”

As for reasons alumni decide to come back to work for Butler, LaRose offered his personal take.

“For me, it’s the people,” LaRose said. “It’s something that I continue to be proud of even to this day. Butler University is truly a special place.”

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