Ryan Bamford introduced as UMass’ new athletic director



Last modified: Thursday, April 16, 2015

AMHERST — Ryan Bamford said he’d had chances to pursue athletic director jobs before. Either the time wasn’t right or the fit wasn’t.

But Bamford, who was introduced as the University of Massachusetts’ new athletic director Tuesday, said he found the right situation in Amherst.

“When this one came open, my eyes were wide open,” said Bamford, wearing a gray suit and a new maroon tie he’d purchased for the occasion. “I’ve told a lot of people in this industry, I’ve never been in a rush to be an AD. I wanted to be at the right place at the right time. I think this was it for me. UMass has tremendous potential. This was a home-run fit. ... At UMass, there is a tremendous opportunity being the flagship, to raise the profile to a position of success, academically and athletically.”

UMass administrators said the feeling was mutual. They chose the 36-year-old New Hampshire native, who is the senior associate athletic director at Georgia Tech, over 90 applicants, according to John Kennedy, the vice chancellor, who was the chairman of the search committee.

“His energy and enthusiasm and excitement for the position is an asset. For a guy who is chronologically young, he’s got experience at the highest level,” Kennedy said. “He presented a compelling vision for the athletic program. He has a substantive plan for how to sell the program and be the face of the program.”

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy agreed.

“We’re embarking on a whole new era of UMass athletics, an era that will be marked with promise and prominence,” he said. “What set Ryan apart was the combination of his enthusiasm for UMass and his keen insight into the strategic operations crucial to a successful athletic department.”

Bamford replaces John McCutcheon, who led the UMass department from 2004 until February when he left to become the athletic director at California-Santa Barbara. Bamford didn’t have an exact start date, but plans to move to Amherst next month. He also plans to be working from Atlanta before he arrives.

“I’m going to be doing a lot of work for UMass in the next couple weeks, trying to get myself up to speed quickly, doing a lot of reading, talking to a lot of people so when I get here I can hit the ground going,” he said.

Bamford is the son of Steve Bamford, the former Plymouth State athletic director and current administrator with the ECAC. Ryan Bamford is the all-time leading 3-point shooter at Ithaca, where he graduated in 2000. He has a master’s degree from Springfield College and worked at Yale for eight years before being hired in 2011 at Georgia Tech, where he climbed the ladder to become the senior associate AD.

Bamford wasn’t intent on coming back to New England as his career progressed, but was excited that his career path brought him close to home.

“I missed fall New England weekends. October New England weekends with the foliage, you don’t get that in the South. You get 95-degree heat on Labor Day,’ he said. “At Georgia Tech, we didn’t have soccer, hockey or lacrosse. We have all those things at Yale and we were good at those sports at Yale. I missed those. I missed the hybrid and cross section of student athletes.”

While he’ll be involved with those sports, his experience with Georgia Tech’s Bowl Subdivision-level football team was critical to him getting the job as UMass begins its fourth year playing Bowl Subdivision football.

“From the beginning, when we put out the announcement, we said we would prefer FBS level experience. Clearly, we’re in a transitional state, having made the investment we made in football,” Subbaswamy said. “Having direct experience was a big plus, almost a necessity.”

The Minutemen are hunting for a conference to play in as they’ll leave their home in the Mid-American Conference at the end of the 2015 season. They’ll be independent beginning in 2016 until they join another league. While conference moves happen at the level of chancellor and university president, Bamford thought it was his responsibility to help give his superiors an attractive product.

“I’m not going to shy away from that, in terms of conference alignment. I think it’s important for us right now as we move toward independence in 2016,” he said. “We have to make sure we raise the profile for football because that’s going to help us get into a conference.”

Tuesday’s ceremony at the Performance Center was filled with pomp and circumstances from the marching band, which played the UMass fight song to open the event, to the cheerleaders, who stood smiling near the podium throughout. Subbaswamy presented Bamford with a No. 24 (his number at Ithaca) Minuteman basketball jersey. Almost every UMass head and assistant coach was in attendance, as well as quite a few donors, faculty members, athletes and fans. Yale men’s basketball coach James Jones, with whom Bamford was close during his time at that school, was in attendance as well. Bamford’s parents and several other relatives sat up front.

Bamford doesn’t have a completed contract yet. According to athletic department spokesman John Sinnett, Bamford and UMass have signed a memorandum of understanding giving him a base salary of $250,000.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage


 


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