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Hiring Freeze Will Not Interfere With Athletics Director Search

Many of Harvard College's athletes practice in facilities across the Charles River.
Many of Harvard College's athletes practice in facilities across the Charles River. By Kathryn S. Kuhar
By Ema R. Schumer, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard will name its next Athletics Director by the end of the academic year despite a University-wide hiring freeze implemented in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Claudine Gay said in an interview last week that the committee she tasked with selecting the next Athletics Director will conclude its work on schedule by next month.

Gay launched a nationwide search for the position in November 2019, following Harvard Athletics Director Robert L. Scalise’s announcement that he would retire after almost two decades at the helm of the department.

Since then, however, the global pandemic has drastically altered Harvard’s operations and embroiled the University in a financial crisis.

Harvard has suffered immediate financial losses due to unforeseen expenses and lost streams of revenue. As financial markets crater, the University’s endowment has likely depreciated by billions of dollars.

FAS has incurred over $30 million in losses alone. Gay announced last week she would halt almost all faculty searches following Harvard officials’ decision to institute a salary and hiring freeze across all arms of the University.

Gay noted that the hiring freeze will not impact a “small number” of searches that were well underway by the time of the outbreak – including the selection of the next Athletics Director.

Members of the search committee met with a group of student-athletes at the end of January to learn what they value in an Athletics Director. Student-athletes told the committee members they would like Scalise’s successor to prioritize their concerns and set high standards for the program.

During his more than 40 years at Harvard, Scalise coached the men’s lacrosse team and women’s soccer team and served as Associate Dean and Senior Executive Officer of Harvard Business School.

Scalise confirmed in an interview last week that his tenure as Athletics Director will conclude at the end of the semester. He said he still plans to serve in an advisory role during the 2020-2021 academic year as his successor adjusts to the job.

Whoever the search committee taps, he or she will enter a department dramatically changed by the coronavirus. Spring sports were cancelled, the University is tightening its budget, and plans for the fall semester remain in flux.

—Staff writer Ema R. Schumer can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emaschumer.

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