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The Impact of COVID-19 on Small College Consulting

There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a vast and widespread impact on higher education. As colleges and universities seek new ways to deliver education in a safe and socially distant environment, athletic programs have sought to continue their pursuit of excellence in a strange and ever-changing climate.

During this time, there have been articles written regarding the role of consultants in collegiate athletics often focusing on NCAA Division I institutions’ use of consulting services. Some have suggested that the use of consulting services has lessened as a result of athletic budget cuts and the seemingly gratuitous nature of their profession. However, this experience is inconsistent with what ASC has witnessed in the area of consulting services being utilized in small college athletics. Consultants are continually being utilized advantageously to help navigate today’s collegiate landscape.

Athletic Staffing and Consultants (ASC) is led by highly experienced staff, and the team is highly qualified to support collegiate athletic organizations during these trying times. In fact, through

quarantine and now, ASC consultants have been steading lifting client institutions by assisting college administrators in making challenging choices related to overall athletic and institutional wellness. ASC views the marketplace as having changed and more pressing needs, not reduced.

ASC is a full-service consulting firm working primarily with institutions of higher learning, who compete in intercollegiate athletics in NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA, and offering a wide range of services including searches, departmental reviews, strategic planning, transition work, and enrollment management of athletic programs. It is a testament to ASC’s reputation and ability that the organization has seen only a slight decrease in activity during COVID-19.

Search work, in particular, continues to be active. The pandemic has created an increase in early retirements and limited access to travel and traditional forms of interview and candidate selection has forced institutions to seek qualified candidates and evaluate prospects’ credentials in new ways. Thus, using information from search firms in the various rounds of off-campus interviews has become increasingly popular. While the use of technology and video interviews has grown during this pandemic, the need for personnel in the search process has not been eliminated.

Further, search firms are valued for their assistance in recruiting. Quality search firms thrive at successfully promoting open positions in niche markets drawing interest from uniquely qualified candidates who would, perhaps, not apply on their own. This aspect of recruiting is more important today due to the heightened anxiety of potential candidates who might be less likely to consider a move during these COVID-19 times. Additionally, because some institutional leaders have taken a conservative approach in hiring and elevated current personnel into interim roles or hired assistants to become directors or head coaches, once an end to this COVID-19 period appears near, the need for consultants may be at an all-time high as the scramble for top-level talent to fill positions for the long term will be significant.

Although the need for departmental reviews and strategic planning appears to be affected during this time of limited intercollegiate competition, some institutions are taking this time to evaluate membership standing in their current leagues and divisions within the national associations. Some of the more proactive leaders are taking this time to assess, through transitional studies, the institution’s best fit after the pandemic and over the next five to ten years.These leaders are working ahead to ensure

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