The rise of the young athletic director
This past hiring season was a boon for young football coaches looking for their first head coaching job. See Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech, Brian Polian at Nevada and P.J. Fleck at Western Michigan, among others. Now the same thing could be happening one spot up on the totem pole.
First-time athletic directors are getting younger and younger, people like Ross Bjork at Ole Miss, Danny White at Buffalo, who became FBS's youngest athletic director at age 32 last year, and Arizona's Greg Byrne, in his fifth year in the athletic director chair at age 41. A new member could be joining the young AD club, as 33-year-old Josh Brooks was named a finalist for the vacant ULM athletic director job along with UT-Pan American athletic director Chris King and UC-Riverside athletic director Brian Wickstrom.
Unlike White and Byrne, Brooks has an intimate connection with the school he is hoping to run. Married to a ULM alum, Brooks and his wife are both southern Louisiana natives. They met while Brooks was serving as a Warhawks graduate assistant from 2004-05, later working his way up to director of football operations from 2007-08.
Brooks left ULM for Georgia in 2008, becoming the Bulldogs' assistant DFO and eventually rising to his current post as assistant athletic director for internal operations. He oversees the football program's scheduling, budgeting, travel, facility maintenance as well as athletic association duties such as the Circle of Honor and new employee orientation. He also oversaw the construction of new scoreboards at Georgia's football, baseball, softball and soccer stadiums.
Brooks insists he is not looking for a job, just the job.
“This is not just another job,” Brooks told the (Monroe) News Star. “This is a job I care about, a place I care about and something I want to commit to and make a difference.”
In his interview last week, Brooks laid out his vision for the future of ULM athletics: “I wanted to get across my vision and the positive belief in what I believe it can become,” Brooks said. “I wanted to get across my very aggressive mentality in terms of very aggressive with ideas and innovations and trying things and explain to the group that I won’t be afraid to take chances, just afraid to fail.”
Should the Warhawks choose King or Wickstrom, Brooks will happily return to his post in Athens. For a fast-riser like Brooks, like Byrne and White before him, his future as an athletic director is not a question of if, only when.