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Athletic Director In Residence: Pat Kraft (Temple)

By Pat Kraf
7 min read
Having just completed a high-profile search for a new head football coach, what are your immediate takeaways on the difficulties/challenges of such a process?


I can sum up the process of hiring a high-profile coaching position in two words: exhilarating and exhausting. I know that my colleagues all have different experiences when conducting a search and there are so many factors that go into the process—and the outcome. At Temple, I am fortunate to have an incredibly supportive Board of Trustees, President and colleagues on campus who were not only supportive during the search but who were very helpful, as well.


During the search, I was as diligent and methodical as possible and never set a public or private deadline for completing the search. The focus was solely on finding the right individual to help continue the momentum of our program, no matter how long it took.


Matt Rhule did an incredible job of creating a winning culture and he established a strong foundation for the next coach to build on. It was critical to bring in a coach who understood who we are as a program. Every football program in the country is different and, at this point in time, I believed that we did not need to reset the culture, but rather to build on it.


One challenge that all ADs face in conducting high-profile searches is managing the volume of information you uncover or that comes to you unsolicited. Colleagues, coaches, members of your staff, agents, reporters, fans at the grocery store —they all have an opinion or a tidbit of information that may matter and it was critical that I remained organized. During the search process, I wanted to speak with everyone who had taken time out of their schedule to reach out to me, but you quickly realize that it simply is not possible. Having close, trusted associates involved in the search made it somewhat easier to gather the information, to sort through it, to identify candidates and to vet them. From setting up phone calls to searching for background information; from seeking references and insights on the candidates to preparing to brief the search committee with detailed information, there is so much going on during a search, that it takes a team effort.


Ultimately, hiring a coach of any sport is never exact or fail-proof. You put in the time and the work to find the best fit at the right time for your program, and then do everything that you can to support him or her.


During your recent interviews of head football coaching candidates, what body language were you looking for from a candidate? Did you stick to a standard list of questions for each coach or did you “go with the flow” and let the conversation develop organically? 


The interview process had many layers and body language, tone and content were just some of the factors I looked at. All of us have preconceived notions of others, based on what we read, what we hear and what we see. From the moment a candidate walked in the door, I was judging candidates and thinking to myself: How would he be in front of the team after a win or loss? How would he be at dinner with his wife and a major donor? Would he be comfortable sitting with members of the faculty? Body language is important, and you can often get a sense of a coach’s “presence,” passion and interest by what they say and how they say it, but you can also gain insight by how they listen.


While I went into each interview with certain topics I wanted to cover and though the search committee had a standard set of questions, we “went with the flow.”  We spoke to each candidate about their football and recruiting philosophies, their vision for our program, their potential staff, their experience in helping student-athletes and their thoughts on our current program. I also wanted to see just how much they knew about Temple and Philadelphia and about our success the past few years.


We were fortunate that we had a strong pool of candidates who were great in the interviews. Outside of the formal search committee interview, I had the opportunity to meet with the candidates one on one to make sure that he and I connected and understood each other’s’ vision of the program.


After leaving Indiana, did you ever have concerns about getting back to the FBS level during your time at Loyola? Many aspiring administrators in our business seem to worry about leaving an FBS school and never having the opportunity to return. What advice would you have for those of us weighing such decisions?


When I left Indiana for Loyola, I never even thought about the step away from FBS or potential concerns about getting back to that level. Throughout my career, I have made job decisions based on what I felt was best for me and my family at that time. My experience at Loyola was tremendous. I had a wonderful boss in Director of Athletics Grace Calhoun, now the AD at Penn. Grace allowed me to really roll up my sleeves and run the day to day operations of the department. That opportunity was invaluable for me and is a big reason why I sit here today as Director of Athletics at Temple University. I was able to play a key leadership role in running a FULL department, from academics, compliance, development, marketing, sales and so on. I wasn’t just pigeon holed in one area of the department.


My advice to young administrators would be to choose the best opportunity that helps you grow professionally. Do not get caught up in the name on the business card, but really dig in and find out what is the work you will be doing. With that being said, it is very important to try to surround yourself with really good people, to network and connect with others in the industry. I have been very fortunate to have a wonderful network that I can lean on for advice as well as for assistance. I think it’s important to engage in professional development organizations and any networking activities you can. This is truly a people business.


Will getting an on-campus football stadium built be the defining piece of your legacy at Temple?


To be very honest, I have never thought about my legacy or what certain things would mean for my legacy. I hope I have many, many years of quality work in front of me. If the stadium comes to fruition, I would certainly be proud, but not as a pat on the back for me, rather for what the Temple community was able to do together—the Trustees, President, key donors—to benefit generations of past, current and future students.


I am extremely proud of the incredible achievements at Temple in a short period of time. I am most proud of the enhancements that we have made to create a better student athlete experience and my focus will continue to be on what we can do to make it better for those who are our purpose in college athletics. I am proud of the incredible success our student-athletes have had in the classroom, with record high graduation rates and GPAs. I am proud of the championships and on field success we have experienced and I am proud of the culture we have created here in our department. I would hope people would look and see all the wonderful accomplishments we have had and see a complete department that worked hard and achieved success in every facet.


There is a storied history and a tremendous amount of tradition surrounding Temple Men’s Basketball.  How has the program been able to sustain itself at such a high-level for so many years? 


Temple Basketball is an absolutely amazing program. You do not become the fifth winningest program in the history of the game by not sustaining excellence for long periods of time. The key to our success has been simple: people. Hall of Fame coaches like Harry Litwack and John Chaney and legendary players—too many to include—won those games with the incredible support from alumni, fans, students and administrators through the years. Temple fans expect a lot from our program and are very passionate and knowledgeable about basketball and our expectations are no different. Temple Basketball speaks to who we are at Temple: tough, gritty, proud and successful. Temple Basketball put our department on the map and made us nationally relevant. I am so proud to be associated with our basketball program and everything it represents in the past, present and future.


If your career in college athletics started all over tomorrow, what’s the very first thing you’d do to align yourself appropriately or a skill you’d learn that’s super valuable in today’s landscape?


There are several skills or traits that are critical in this modern-day landscape of college athletics. You must be able to adapt and change. You must be able to listen and learn from others. Most importantly, you must have a passion for what you do and a willingness to do it well. If I was breaking into the business tomorrow, I would seek an opportunity within a department with great people; great people who would allow me to learn, to grow and to let my passion and hard work shine. It is important to learn and understand all the different areas in a department and to remember that you can never stop learning and growing. As a young professional, I was very fortunate to be around many wonderful individuals from whom I could learn. Put yourself in the right position, work hard and be persistent and you can find success and happiness in college athletics.