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Foundational Relationships For Leaders With CSA’s Todd Turner

Guest Todd Turner, Collegiate Sports Associates
19:56 min watch


Collegiate Sports Associates Founder & Chairman Todd Turner sits down with ADU’s Steph Garcia Cichosz at the 2023 NACDA Convention to reflect on the foundational relationships he cultivated throughout his career as an athletics leader: with mentors, with mentees and with peers. Turner, who served as Director of Athletics at the University of Connecticut, NC State University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Washington, discusses the key leadership qualities he observed from his earliest mentors – presence, the ability to connect, a strong vision – and the camaraderie and trust he developed with his peers. Turner also urges administrators to find an advocate to serve as a reference when seeking their next career opportunity. Turner: “Who you work for and where you work is more important than what you do. But you’ve got to be the best at whatever it is you’re doing if you want to take advantage of who you’re working for and where you work.”

The conversation is indexed below for efficient viewing (click the time stamp to jump to a specific question/topic).

  • - There’s an understanding in this industry that when it comes to advancing your career, it’s all about who you know. Who were some of the most important mentors throughout your time as an athletic administrator?
  • - Was there any common trait, quality or leadership style those mentors had that you took on as you grew as a leader?
  • - We often hear about the “athletic director tree." - When you think about your own AD tree and your role as a mentor, what were some of the common lessons you tried to impart on your mentees?
  • - Why were you and your colleagues unafraid of failing and comfortable with taking risks?
  • - How can today's administrators incorporate more risk tolerance into the way they run their departments?
  • - College athletics can be such a competitive industry, with so many metrics to compare and define success by - how did you cultivate authentic relationships throughout your career?
  • - Are peer relationships like the ones you cultivated early in your career possible in today's landscape, with the pressures of social media and constant media reporting?
  • - What inspired you to launch Collegiate Sports Associates?
  • - How are relationships still the most valuable currency in your current role?
  • - How can up-and-coming administrators create an authentic relationship with a search firm?
  • - Why should an athletics director consider using a search firm to assist with a coaching search?
  • - What's the best career advice you've ever received?