Bryan Maggard has an advantage over most administrators taking over a director of athletics position.
Instead of the process of formulating a plan for the future, Maggard was handed a blueprint for success when he became a finalist for the AD position at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. And that blueprint was assembled by the man he worked under for nearly two decades at the University of Missouri.
Former Mizzou athletic director Mike Alden did a six-month study of the Ragin’ Cajun program as a consultant, and made a series of recommendations in a report last spring. Maggard officially ended a 21-year career in the Missouri athletics department on Wednesday when he was announced as UL-Lafayette’s new director of athletics.
“Having that is huge, in a word,” the 49-year-old native of Dexter, Kansas, said shortly after he was introduced by UL-Lafayette president E. Joseph Savoie. “That report provides an incoming athletic director a great deal of information. Because I have a relationship with Mike, we know each other very well, I know the accuracy of it, I know the thoroughness of it and I know that it’s a document I know I can absolutely trust.”
Maggard had been UM’s executive associate athletic director since 2012 and worked under Alden until 2015, when Alden left that AD post and shortly thereafter was retained by the Cajun program as a consultant. Alden also coordinated UL-Lafayette’s search to fill the spot left vacant in late November when Scott Farmer resigned under pressure, but Savoie said the Missouri connection had little to do with his final selection.
“Mike’s a go-getter,” Savoie said, “and he said we couldn’t go wrong with anyone we had in our final group. It’s been 33 years since we’ve conducted a comprehensive national search for an athletics director, and with the recent growth in our budge, our fundraising, our facilities, our student-athlete academic ranking, our athletic success, our brand recognition and our fan support, we needed to make sure we kept that success going.”
Screening committee chairwoman Anita Hazelwood said Alden fielded more than 200 inquiries about the post before narrowing it to a list of 32 and finally to a list of 18 that was turned over to the committee, which included ex-Cajun All-American and two-time Olympian high jumper Hollis Conway, former Ragin’ Cajun Athletic Foundation chairman Robert Daigle, Rebounders Club president Karren Hays, Cajun baseball coach Tony Robichaux, Cajun volleyball coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot, and student-athletes DJ Sanders from softball and Denise Emokpae from soccer.
The committee interviewed seven semifinalists in Dallas two weeks ago and eventually gave Savoie two names — Maggard and current LSU deputy director of athletics Eddie Nunez — with Savoie making the final decision.
Maggard said he and wife Kerry toured Lafayette and the UL-Lafayette campus on Monday, and Savoie called him with the job offer Monday afternoon.
“I got the call about 4:15,” Maggard said, “and I was just hoping, and wondering if I would be the second call. But he gave me the offer and I was elated to accept and very humbled. You ask people around our industry, this is a great job, a great job.”
Maggard, a journalism graduate of Kansas State who was on staff there and at Florida State before moving to Missouri, said several factors made the Cajun post appealing.
“First, it was leadership,” he said. “Dr. Savoie is a great supporter and I know I have a great boss and great support. The university and its people, there are 19,000 students here and great academic programs. There has been a strong tradition of athletic success. And Lafayette has made a great impression on us in this short a time. My wife and I researched this together and we had four boxes we wanted to check off, and we checked all those boxes.”
The two were at the announcement along with their three children, Dalton, Aubrey and Kaylin. The first two are students at Missouri and Kaylin graduates from high school this spring. Maggard said he plans to be on the job in Lafayette by March 1, and wife Kerry will join him in August after his youngest daughter heads to college.
“February I’ll settle things back home,” he said, “but I plan boots on the ground and going full steam in early March.”
Maggard takes over a program that is in the middle of a $115 million facility expansion drive, something he also experienced at Missouri when he was one of the point people in the Tigers’ transition to the SEC and assisted with a $100 million facility improvement project that included football, baseball, softball, tennis and golf. Just like Missouri’s move during his tenure, he acknowledged that some factions in the Cajun athletic family have brought up the subject of changing conference alignment.
“There’s interest by some to explore other conferences,” he said, “but I have to get here first and assess the lay of the land. I know (Sun Belt) commissioner (Karl) Benson well and he’s a fine, fine leader, and I know many of the AD’s in the conference. I’ll tell you, from a ‘Power Five’ chair, the Sun Belt is highly respected. When I was doing football scheduling at Missouri, there were schools — this being one — that were on our coach’s ‘don’t schedule’ list. So that speaks volumes.
“When we moved into the new neighborhood, the SEC, we had a lot of catching up to do. It’s one thing to decide to look at something else, it’s another thing to be prepared to do that.”
Much of Maggard’s background is in academic services, but he worked with virtually every area of the program during his Missouri career. He also completed his Ph.D. in educational and counseling psychology during his tenure at UM.
“He has had so much experience in so many areas that are vital in athletics,” Robichaux said. “I really believe he’s going to help us do some great things.”