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Episode 007 – Retired Grand Valley State University Athletic Director Tim Selgo

Posted on Sep 26, 2016 by in Podcast Episode | 0 comments


Leaders are teachers, recruiting great talent and balancing career and family.

Tim Selgo Bio:

Retired this year after twenty years as the Director of Athletics at Grand Valley State University. Grand Valley has been nothing short of a powerhouse at the NCAA Division II level, claiming the Directors’ Cup as the top overall athletic program ten times.

Under Tim’s leadership, Laker teams have won 161 conference championships, 74 NCAA regional championships and 18 national championships.

Tim was named Division II AD of the Year three times by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), and this past year he became the first Division II athletic director selected to serve as president of that organization in its over 50 year existence.

Though retired as an AD, Tim is now a consultant with Athletics Staffing and Consultants, where he advises athletic departments on leadership training and staffing. He will be inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame this fall.

Interview Notes:

  1. Introduce yourself and give some background
    1. Pettisville, OH
    2. Father teacher/coach; brothers were D1 athletes; mother and father athletes as well and in bowling hall of fames
    3. Bob Nichols at Toledo gave him scholarship to play basketball, and then hired him as a G.A. and then assistant coach; led to being head women’s coach
    4. Quickly realized the importance of recruiting great talent if you want to be successful
    5. Moved from coaching to administration at Toledo
      1. They both Nick Saban and Gary Pinkel as football coaches in the early 90s
  2. Talk about the change in the industry for where administrators come from
    1. Changed as more money came in and it became an entertainment industry
    2. Working in athletics is a lot like farming, it’s not a job as much as it is a way of life
    3. Advice for being an AD – get some coaching experience. The best coaches are the best teachers, and that skill translates well to administration.
    4. This isn’t fantasy sports; you can’t point and click your way to succes
  3. How did you approach the hiring of coaches and staff? What were you looking for, both positively and negatively?
    1. Must surround yourself with the best people
    2. As AD you’re the coach of the coaches, staff and student-athletes; it’s a teaching position…true in many leadership positions in/out of athletics
    3. Mistake early on to be the “change agent” prior to observing/listening
    4. You have to have patience if you want to build something that will last
      1. Hiring people is a leader’s most important job
      2. It took time with Brian Kelly; people wanted him gone
        1. He was 5-5 in his tenth year at GVSU
        2. Went and fought to get him a new four year contract that year
    5. Be open to all types of candidates; the best could come from anywhere
      1. Prefers those coming up through the ranks
      2. (Examples in volleyball, soccer, track/field)
      3. Easy to make the sexy hire to win the press conference, but that is almost always meaningless
  4. You have talked about how proud you are of the success across all of your programs. How did you create a culture where that was valued, when I’m sure it would have been easy to make things all about football?
    1. (went back to prior question)
      1. Critical to develop those best people
    2. That was GVSU’s philosophy when he arrived, and that was important to him taking the job
    3. More than resources, which are important, people want to know you care
    4. Be there/present, especially when it matters most – in competition
    5. All the kids work hard
    6. Exit surveys ask whether kids felt they had admin support
      1. Said yes because admin was there; not because of material support
  5. From our interactions at NACDA, you were always a great connector of people. How did you develop that skill or is it something you have always had?
    1. People will make you successful, and I love people and being part of a team
    2. Ex. Steve Payne, Manistee, MI office furniture
  6. You talk a lot about family and I know that spending more time with your kids and grandkids is a priority for you. How did you go about maintaining your family relationships while in such a high demand job?
    1. Athletics is a way of life, and it’s important to be there for your people
    2. Gave up personal life and only focused on faith, family and work
      1. Exception being reading, which he does very early in the morning, and exercise.
      2. The best leaders have some type of balance, and if it is out of balance, it is so for the good things like family
  7. What can you tell us about your new book, and where people can connect with you?
    1. Memoir as GVSU AD; leadership instruction; entertaining stories; November release
    2. Athletic Staffing and Consulting –
    3. Teaching at Davenport University in sports management

Thank Yous/Acknowledgements:

  1. Antioch Live/Clear Day Media Group – music
    1. More here.
  2. Jonathan Davis – production
  3. Clint Musslewhite – voice over

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