As recently as January, Boston College athletic director Brad Bates was talking about the future of the Eagles’ athletic programs.
On BC’s in-house podcast, Bates laid out recently finalized plans for state-of-the-art athletic facilities. He preached patience with a basketball program that was “not a quick fix, but building a foundation for long-term success.”
But even in that moment, Bates was on borrowed time.
In the final year of the five-year contract he signed when he was hired from Miami University to replace Gene DeFillippo in 2012, Bates’s future at BC seemed to be up in the air throughout the year.
On Monday, Bates announced his resignation along with plans to step down at the end of the school year and join the North Carolina-based executive search and consulting firm Collegiate Sports Associates as vice president, leading the firm’s consulting division.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Boston College and am especially grateful for the opportunity to serve the University,” Bates said in a statement.
“I will forever be an Eagle and a fan of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff, and will cherish the great relationships that I have made here.
“The Jesuit, Catholic education offered at BC is distinctive in higher education and epitomizes the very best of college athletics. I feel privileged to be a part of this community.”
While BC athletics saw several highlights under Bates — the men’s soccer team reached the Elite Eight in 2015, women’s hockey reached the national championship game in 2016, baseball reached the Super Regional in 2016, and men’s hockey reached the Frozen Four in 2014 and 2016 — the school’s most visible programs went through some of their darkest stretches during Bates’s tenure.
In 2015-16, both football and men’s basketball went winless in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the first time in more than 70 years that a Power 5 conference team failed to win a conference game in either sport.
Football coach Steve Addazio was Bates’s first hire when he arrived in 2012. Although he has guided the Eagles to bowl games in three of his first four seasons, the team’s record is 24-27 under Addazio.
When Bates arrived in 2012, the average attendance for football games at Alumni Stadium was 37,020. The turnout for football games dived to 30,205 during a disastrous 2015 season. Last season, the Eagles averaged 32,157.
Bates hired men’s basketball coach Jim Christian in 2014 to replace then-coach Steve Donahue. The Eagles went 13-19 in Christian’s first season, then 7-25 a year later. In the offseason, Bates gave Christian a one-year extension. The Eagles are currently 9-19.
Both Addazio and Christian declined comment.
BC said it would conduct a national search for Bates’s replacement, with the assistance of an executive search firm.
Loyola (Md.) athletic director Jim Paquette and Virginia Commonwealth AD Ed McLaughlin have emerged as two potential candidates with strong ties to the Jesuit school.
Paquette, a 1992 graduate of Providence College, spent 16 years working on BC’s athletic leadership team at a time when the school was transitioning from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Paquette served as associate athletics director for development from 2002 until his departure from the Heights for the Loyola AD position in 2010 and helped BC secure more than $211 million in athletic fundraising commitments, including $27 million for the Yawkey Athletics Center, the first building on campus to be 100 percent privately funded.
McLaughlin, a native of Natick, is a 1995 BC graduate and former sports editor of the school’s independent newspaper, The Heights. He began his career in athletic administration at Merrimack College after working two years as Hockey East’s director of media relations.
He left Merrimack in 2000 to become American University’s assistant athletic director for facilities and operations and was promoted several times, rising to associate AD for external affairs.
McLaughlin departed in 2006 for the AD job at Niagra, where he served from 2006-12 and oversaw a department that included 18 Division 1 programs, and set attendance records in men’s hockey and basketball.
He left Niagara to become VCU’s AD in 2012.