For 48 years, ACU had three sports information directors. After Jordan Herrod’s recent exit after a year and a half, ACU is searching for their third sports information director in just three years.
Longevity is a staple for ACU especially when hiring faculty and staff. Athletics traditionally has been no different but with ACU’s rise to Div. I, they have seen Jared Mosley from 2000-2014, Lee De Leon from 2014-2018, Allen Ward from 2018-2021 and Zack Lassiter from Dec. 2021-present in the athletic director role. Instability at this position and others in recent years plays into how ACU will be searching for their third SID in three years. For the college athletics industry as a whole, better delegation of tasks and healthier work-life balances need to be implemented.
In an article written by Sportico, over the past two years, college athletic departments across Div. I have seen a 48% turnover rate. Div. II programs are not much better at 58% while Div. III programs have the best rate at 43.7%. For comparison, businesses have had a turnover rate of 15% and higher education at 14%. College athletics are seeing a significant trend in the wrong direction and are struggling to maintain employees long-term.
From 1973-2021, ACU had three SID’s: Garner Roberts (1973-1998), Lance Fleming (1998-2019), Chris Macaluso (2011-2021). For 48 years, three people held the role as a Sports Information Director.
In 2019, Cassie Kelley and Zach Carlyle were hired as Media Relations Coordinators. Two years later, Jordan Herrod was hired as the Assistant Athletic Director for Communications. Herrod recently left ACU for a job as a Digital Health Project Manager at Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo. Now, ACU will be hiring their third media relations staff member in three years.
Athletics is not an 8-5 job but giving employees nights off in order for them to come back to work healthier the next day may be a necessary change. Traveling may need to be reduced and more staff may be needed to maintain a work environment that is attractive instead of one in Div. II that has a -10% growth rate.
This issue is much larger than ACU as it has affected and will continue to affect athletic departments across the country. In order for ACU to start a new trend in the right direction, athletics may need to start seriously thinking about ways to keep their employees for more than a year and a half. You cannot have a sustainable work environment when you’re hiring your third SID in three years and have had four athletic directors in ten years.
Something has to change around the country in athletics and at ACU. The Department of Athletics is still a part of ACU and as a Christian university it is important to be aware of the trends in the industry so that Lassiter and others can set an example for other athletic departments around the country. But, it is up to him and others to do so and keep their employees long-term.