After 17 years as the head of the athletic department for GW, Jack Kvancz announced his retirement Thursday, saying he would assume a role as special adviser to the University.
Kvancz said he had been considering retirement for a few years, but said he had no immediate plans to step down until the Board of Trustees announced plans for a complete review of GW athletics.
“It fit right into what I was thinking about anyway,” Kvancz said. “It was ideal.”
Senior Vice President of Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak said the beginning stages of a nationwide search for Kvancz’s replacement would begin this week. Kvancz is scheduled to officially retire June 30, but Chernak said that if a new athletic director isn’t in place by then, Kvancz could stay in his job until the search is completed.
“It’s difficult to anticipate how long it might take to develop the guidelines, not just to reflect what the current condition is but also what some of the expectations might be that are articulated in the long-term plan that this committee that I referenced is gonna work on,” Chernak said. “I would suspect that it’s gonna be a while before we identify the successful candidate.”
In his new role as a special adviser, Kvancz said he doubts he’ll actually sit on either the special committee or on the steering committee the Board will establish. Instead, he said he’ll likely work with the various committees and sub-committees, providing context and insight into how things have been done at GW in the past.
“I see myself being involved in all the committees, sitting on none, to be there to say, ‘Hey, this is the way it was done and these are the reasons it was done this way and if there’s a better way to do it, let’s talk about it.’ “
Kvancz’s departure comes in the midst of a down stretch for his department’s flagship programs, the men’s and women’s basketball teams, relative to the success that both squads enjoyed in the mid-2000s.
With 1 year left on his contract, men’s basketball head coach Karl Hobbs’ job security has been a major source of discussion amongst fans, and the steep decline of the women’s basketball team’s from its former status as a perennial Atlantic 10 powerhouse has raised questions about the safety of head coach Mike Bozeman’s job. Kvancz said his imminent departure would not prevent him from making staffing decisions, adding that he would not make any coaching moves until the end of season.
“What I would say to you is that if you’re here and [making a coaching decision] comes up, you gotta deal with it. That’s not one you hide behind,” Kvancz said. “I think that if you’re working until June 30 you should work until June 30. Just understand that, you gotta keep in the back of your mind that some of the decisions you make might have an effect on whoever you hire.”
What could potentially effect Hobbs’ return for an 11th season, Kvancz said, is the crop of incoming freshmen the Colonials have inked to national letters of intent for next season. The recruiting class is one of the best Hobbs has ever brought to GW, highlighted by center Erik Copes, rated by ESPN as the sixth-best high school center in the country.
“I think you have to factor that in,” Kvancz said. “Now, how large you factor that in? That depends on a lot of things, but I think you’re crazy not to look and say, ‘Okay, do we have the same situation again?’ I think it all has to be factored in.”
Even after he steps down, Kvancz said he likely won’t stray far from the Smith Center. The job has taken its toll on the 65-year-old, and he’ll enjoy the extra time he gets to spend with his wife and his grandkids. He can brag that he’s the only person in NCAA history to hold athletic director jobs at Division I, Division II and Division III schools without ever being fired, and he can take pride in the 18 total NCAA Tournament appearances that GW basketball teams made during his tenure. But after a career of spending Saturdays and Sundays at basketball stadiums, Kvancz said he’s mostly looking forward to being able to skip a game or two.
“It becomes all-consuming. And it’s not that I won’t do things that I have to do, clearly for now, but even in the future, it’s just being able to say, ‘I don’t have to do that,'” he said. “So if I want to take the kids to the park, I take them to the park. I’m just so much of a basketball junkie, and I love baseball too, I don’t ever see myself not going to those games, but it’s nice to have an option to say, ‘I don’t have to be there today.’ “