Oliver announces new director on recommendation from faculty and student committee.
President Rob Oliver announced March 27 that Slade Larscheid will take Bill Gross’ position as Augustana’s athletic director. Larscheid is currently Roosevelt High School’s athletic and activities director, and he will begin at Augustana in May.
After Gross announced his move to the Advancement Office in late December, Oliver immediately assembled a search committee to find a replacement.
Dean of students Jim Bies was involved with the project from day one. The committee’s job was to find a candidate to recommend to Oliver. To do this, he said they “cast the net wide” in a national search.
“We shared a lot of responsibility,” Bies said. “We were all committed to giving President Oliver only our very best in that process.”
The 15-person committee, co-chaired by vice president for advancement Bob Preloger and associate professor Marcia Entwistle, consisted of staff and administration, as well as two student athletes. Junior Emily Hanneman and senior Nick Lee, soccer and football players respectively, were present at nearly every meeting with candidates.
“[Student athletes] needed to have a chair at the table,” Bies said.
He added that the students’ presence there was “far more than symbolic,” and Hanneman said she and Lee submitted questions to be answered by the applicants.
“[We asked] how important a relationship with athletes and students and everyone across campus is, and how they will maintain those relationships,” Hanneman said.
The search began at the beginning of January, at which point Bies said there were more than 80 applicants. After eliminating some due to issues with “institutional fit,” the committee was left with between 8 and 10 candidates. A few were brought to Sioux Falls for off-site interviews, and the final three had what Bies called “one-on-fifteen interviews” on the Augustana campus.
Although Bies said there was some difference in what each committee member valued, it agreed on a few.
“I’d say that if you had to consider those priorities as a pie, each piece of the pie would be about the same size,” Bies said.
These included a “commitment to academic balance,” an ability to engage with faculty and students, and the desire to create fundraising relationships.
“We’ve worked hard at not financing our athletic experiences with limited resources that would come out of tuition and fees,” Bies said.
Though Larscheid currently works at a high school, according to the Augustana website, he has more than 10 years experience on the collegiate level. He has worked in athletic administration and funding at four institutions, including South Dakota State University and University of South Dakota.
“He had both sides of it: the strategic and the fundraising side,” Hanneman said.
Both Bies and Hanneman said that despite the competence of the other candidates, Larscheid exhibited all the qualities the committee was looking for. To judge these qualities, Bies said he tried to envision a working relationship with each person.
“I interact with collegiate athletics every single day, so who is it I feel I would be most effective with?” Bies said. “Who do I want to go to for advice and support?”
From a student perspective, Hanneman said Larscheid’s young age, as well as his connection to South Dakota, is desirable.
“He seems like he might be here for a while, versus some people who might want to come here, move up, stay here for a few years and then move on,” Hanneman said.
Bies agrees that a long-term candidate is optimal.
“We’re not looking for someone to come be our athletic director for two or three years,” he said. “You want to make an appointment that’s so good that it can stand the test of time.”
During the press conference at which Oliver announced Larscheid’s new position, the new athletic director echoed Bies’ sentiment.
“I look forward to serving and supporting the student athletes, coaches and the entire Augustana College community,” he said. “I cannot wait to hit the ground running and join the Augustana family.”