Episode 066 – Texas A&M-Commerce Director of Athletics Tim McMurray
Tim talks coaching searches, finding your why, and vision.
Hey everyone and welcome to the All-Star Leader Podcast, where together we learn about leadership from the best and brightest, and keep it fun by connecting it to our passion for sports!
I’m your host Daniel Hare, and today we are joined by the athletic director at Texas A&M-Commerce, Tim McMurray. Tim is in his third year with the Lions, after nearly three decades of service in senior level roles at Maryland, SMU, Northern Illinois, Texas State and Lamar.
He has a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to share with us, and it is my privilege to host him on the show today. This is Tim McMurray; Tim thanks for coming on the show!
- Tim you’ve had the chance to experience the college athletics world several different institutions. Could you walk us through some of the key leadership lessons you picked up at a couple of those stops?
- Got hired at Lamar right after undergrad, and stayed there eight years mostly in athletic communications/PR
- Lots of great experience that he couldn’t have had at larger schools
- Built relationships and learned from great mentors like Mike O’Brien
- Not curing cancer, but might be educating the kid who’s going to
- Fortunate to work for Coach Jim Wacker at Texas State
- Then able to really grow with Jim Phillips at Northern Illinois (sport administrator); involved in football and men’s basketball searches
- The fact he had been at Lamar and Texas State prepared him well for the Texas A&M Commerce; how to work with smaller staff and budget
- A&M Commerce is one of 10 or 15 Division II schools who can be the next Grand Valley
- (follow up on how to connect to your purpose) men of faith and important to know/remember your why. Student-athletes and staff members are his why. And it won’t be the same for everyone. Keep reminders around you (pictures, prayer, etc.).
- (Daniel with a law school mock interview example of how someone may not realize their why even though they have it. And how to pull it out).
- Let’s talk about Division II for a moment. Those who are regular listeners to the show know that I was a Division II AD at Western Oregon, but share if you would what drew you to the division and what you see as its positive/defining characteristics.
- While working in development at different schools, hardly got to spend any time with student-athletes (as opposed to when he started in communications), wanted to get back in touch with the student-athletes.
- As a candidate for the AD job, went over to Commerce from Dallas for the football home opener to “secret shop.” Wanted to show the committee that he wanted the Commerce job; not just an AD job.
- Recently hired a basketball coach. Had several great finalists with head coaching experience. But one finalist who hadn’t been a HC really showed him how much he wanted this job.
- VPs at Commerce want them to win and be successful. Treat VPs/Deans like they are a major donor and part of the family. (UCF’s Danny White recently said something similar at the Collegiate Athletics Leadership Symposium).
- (What did the basketball coach do to show he wanted the Commerce job?) Asked if his head coach could call Tim. Didn’t overdo it. Prepared, but not with a cookie cutter book where you just cut and paste the team logo. Had a recruiting board for who he would want to go after at Commerce (high school kids, juco kids and four year transfers). The sincerity of being interested in this job is what put him over the top.
- (This comes up a lot because while it sounds like common sense and everyone should do it, people don’t).
- You mentioned in an interview when you got the Commerce job that the biggest thing that attracted you to it was the vision of the president. Can you elaborate on that and tell us specifically what that vision was, and how the president was able to sell you on his vision?
- When you’re interviewing for an AD job, you may only get a little time with your boss/the president. There are so many people to meet with. So it’s important to make the most of that time, and to make sure you get to hear from the president rather than just you talking the whole time.
- Asked direct questions. What happens when we don’t have success? What is your philosophy on getting started? President let Tim do what he needed to do so long as it was within rules and budget.
- Only able to work with the president who hired him for a few months before he tragically passed away.
- New president had worked with the prior president at another school, so he could understand and relate to those who worked for the prior president. Helped in the transition.
- When you have the right president, who thinks athletics is important and that it matters, you can accomplish great things.
- Wants to provide a best in class experience. Who is your model? Who do you want to catch? Set a goal and go get them! Constantly measure and test.