Last week, the search committee tasked with finding the new Athletic Director held forums with the top three candidates for the vacant position. The forums, held on Tuesday, Nov. 27, Wednesday, Nov. 28 and Thursday Nov. 29, focused on the search for a new AD who will bridge the gap between athletes and the rest of the student body, focus on diversity, and build partnerships.
The first candidate, Nnenna O. Akotaobi, currently serves as the Associate Athletics Director, Senior Woman Administrator (SWA) and Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Swarthmore College. Previously, she worked for Grinnell College as the Coordinator for Diversity and Achievement in Athletics and Assistant Coordinator for Athletic Facilities and Event Management, where she created “Diversity Dialogues.”
The second candidate, Mike Ludwig, currently works for St. Olaf College as the Senior Associate Athletic Director. Ludwig briefly played professional baseball and was drafted in the 37th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers after graduating from St. Olaf. From his time at St. Olaf, he knows student-athletes at top liberal arts schools are focused on academics and athletics.
Ludwig has noticed over the course of his career that men’s sports have been favored and wants to work to put women’s sports on a similar level to men’s sports. Ludwig also aimed to foster connections across departments.
The third candidate, Donald Brooks, works at Millsaps College, a small liberal arts college located in Jackson, Mississippi. He previously worked at Williams and Dartmouth. Brooks hopes to develop a “perfect triangle” in student-athletes, focusing on academics, athletics and personal development. Brooks cracked jokes, encouraging the room to boo Carleton and saying that he had goals beyond winning, but that President Rosenberg liked winning, too. He focused on diversity, as the soccer team at Millsaps College is almost 50% international, and he has experience working to prevent bias incidents within athletics. He also expressed interest in increasing engagement within athletics and hopes to draw more students to the games, calling sports a “bridge builder.”
When the search committee set out to find a new Athletic Director, they wanted to conduct the first round of interviews by November, as reported by The Mac Weekly on October 11. The committee hoped to make a hire by the beginning of January. If the search committee sticks to the schedule, Mac should have a new AD by beginning of next semester.
Additional reporting from Liam McMahon ’20 and Liv Gigliotti ’21.