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Volume 23 No. 8
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Chatlos, Ventura part of new wave of search-firm hires

In the last round of college football coaching hires following the 2019 season, seven schools in the Power Five conferences employed a search firm. Three of the seven used Ventura Partners, a decade-old firm that hasn’t been around as long as some of its competitors such as Parker and Korn Ferry, but is starting to make strides in the competitive college sports vertical.


Chad Chatlos, a former Navy football team captain, leads Ventura’s sports practice, which recently conducted searches for Rutgers, Ole Miss, Washington State and UNLV. Chatlos, who was a principal in Korn Ferry’s global sports practice before leaving for Ventura, spoke with SBJ about that aspect of Ventura’s business.

On the competitive landscape in search: “I just think the game’s changed a little bit, and you’re seeing it. Some of these search firms had a 20-year head start on us, and they have tremendous contacts, so we’re chasing them. But I think through hustle and competitive pricing, we’ve been able to push forward and get more opportunities. Athletic directors want to pay for the level of service. Why charge the same fee for a one-week search as a six-week search? We don’t have a rate card, and you need to have the flexibility to price the job based on what’s required, not just a number.” 

On advising ADs about making a coaching change: “It’s not always something you can control, but if you’re going to make a move on your football coach, you better have an idea of who you can get. It’s not a matter of ‘Let’s go search and see what the market bears.’ I think that’s a mistake.”

On mistakes he’s seen: “The biggest thing I’ve seen in working with all of these clients is they fall in love with a name and it’s not the right fit and it hurts them. Sometimes schools find themselves in a competitive environment, and they want to get a coach before someone else does and then it tends to not be the right fit.”

On the highly political process of Rutgers rehiring Greg Schiano: “Everybody’s like, ‘Oh yeah, that must have been so easy’ because he was coming back to a place where he had success. But some of those ‘obvious ones’ are the hardest ones. The Schiano search was one of the hardest ones I ever had to do. Coming back to where you’ve had success is not necessarily a no-brainer.”

On his football-playing background: “I’m out at spring practices, I’m at the coaches convention, I’m talking to coaches at summer retreats with their agents. Having played at Navy, I think there’s a trust that’s built. Shoot, I played for some of these coaches.”