UCLA hires Martin Jarmond as athletic director

Ben Bolch
UCLA hired Martin Jarmond as its new athletic director Sunday.  (Steven Senne / Associated Press)

UCLA, the school that produced Jackie Robinson, Kenny Washington and Arthur Ashe, has found its latest racial pioneer.

His name is Martin Jarmond, and he was hired Sunday to become the Bruins’ athletic director, the first African American in that role in the school's 101-year history, replacing longtime department boss Dan Guerrero.

Jarmond will become the highest-paid athletic director at a public school in the Pac-12 Conference by a considerable margin after signing a six-year contract that calls for him to make $1.2 million in the first year and rises to $1.7 million in the final year. An announcement of Jarmond's hiring will come Monday, and he will be introduced, online, by midweek.

The details of Jarmond's hiring and contract were confirmed by a person close to the situation who was not authorized to divulge them publicly before the announcement.

Already a trailblazer as the youngest athletic director in the Power Five conferences and the first black athletic director in Boston College history, Jarmond takes over a department where all six of his predecessors were white or Latino men. He beat out Nevada Las Vegas’ Desiree Reed-Francois, the other finalist, as well as a slew of other candidates who had shown interest. Reed-Francois had withdrawn from consideration Friday.

Jarmond, who turns 40 in November, becomes the first UCLA athletic director without ties to the school since Fred Cozens filled the post upon UCLA's opening in 1919.

Jarmond had assumed the Boston College job in April 2017 at age 37 after 15 years as an administrator in the Big Ten Conference, where he worked at Ohio State and Michigan State and developed a reputation as an adept fundraiser.

That experience could help him solve the huge financial dilemma he inherits at UCLA, where the athletic department ran an $18.9-million deficit for the 2019 fiscal year, requiring an interest-bearing loan from the university. The Bruins are expected to go much deeper into the red in 2020 because of reduced revenue and donations related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is endangering the 2020-21 sports calendar.

Jarmond’s hiring was hailed on social media by UCLA fans and alumni who seized upon its significance.

“This is a great moment for UCLA,” tweeted Josiah Johnson, a former Bruins basketball player. “Hopefully the fan base is supportive.”

The move was also supported by several prominent Boston College alumni who praised Jarmond's efforts at their school.

“Sad to see @MartinJarmond leave from @BostonCollege but happy for him to be Breaking down barriers,” tweeted Lakers forward Jared Dudley, a former Eagles standout. “Congrats man! Good luck @ucla and thanks for everything you did at BC!”

Tweeted Damien Woody, a former Boston College offensive lineman who won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots: “He’s the real deal. Dude brought new energy to BC athletics.”

Even with interviews confined to online video chats, UCLA stuck to the May hiring timeline it set in September after Guerrero announced he would be retiring at the end of June.

Guerrero’s 18-year tenure was marked by wild success in almost every measure other than the school’s two marquee sports. The Bruins won 32 NCAA titles but never went to a Rose Bowl — or any other major bowl game — under Guerrero and failed to add to their record haul of 11 national championships in men’s basketball, even though they did appear in three consecutive Final Fours under former coach Ben Howland.

“The legacy topic is not for me to even talk about,” Guerrero told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year. “That will be determined by other individuals and not by myself.”

Jarmond, a former two-time captain of the men's basketball team at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, has quickly risen through the athletic-administration ranks after obtaining his business degree and a master’s in sports administration from Ohio University. He was assistant athletic director for development and regional giving at Michigan State, where he worked for six years before going to Ohio State in 2009.

Jarmond was the lead administrator for football and men’s basketball with the Buckeyes, where he also handled football scheduling and served on the Rose Bowl advisory committee and the College Football Playoff national championship advisory group. Before moving to Boston College, he made Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 list for his contributions to college sports.

At Boston College, Jarmond hired football coach Jeff Hafley, a former Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and NFL assistant coach, in December, sparking excitement among a long-suffering fan base. The Boston College men’s basketball team advanced to the National Invitation Tournament in the first season after Jarmond’s arrival but finished with losing records in each of the last two seasons.

Jarmond’s fundraising efforts centered on a $150-million capital campaign that was launched in 2018 as the largest of any athletic department in Atlantic Coast Conference history. By last January, the campaign had reportedly raised $108 million.

At UCLA, Jarmond assumes control of a football program in turmoil and a men’s basketball team on the rise. While the football team has gone 7-17 in two seasons under coach Chip Kelly, the men’s basketball team completed its first season under coach Mick Cronin by winning 11 of its last 14 games to finish 19-12.

The hiring of Jarmond came after UCLA convened an eight-person search committee made up entirely of university officials and retained WittKieffer, a Chicago-based executive search firm, to assist in compiling a list of candidates. Chancellor Gene Block was assisted in making the final decision by Yolanda Gorman, UCLA’s senior advisor to the chancellor for strategic initiatives, and Emily A. Carter, the school’s executive vice chancellor and provost.