“GLEN GRUNWALD?!” is the exact text I received from a handful of people when they heard the news.
Initially reported by Ted Michaels at CHML 900 and Scott Radley at The Hamilton Spectator, Glen Grunwald, former Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks general manager, will be McMaster University’s new Athletic Director. The University made the announcement official on Thursday morning.
In terms of newsworthiness, this story trumps any CIS announcement in recent memory. Grunwald was working for one of the largest sports brands in the world in the Knicks at the start of the previous school year, but come September he’ll be in an office at the David Braley Athletic Centre.
A former NBA front office executive’s mere acknowledgment of the CIS’s existence is a good thing, but for him to take helm of a program elevates the story. People who would otherwise never care about the hiring of an athletic director are paying attention.
But it will be interesting to hear about why Grunwald took the job and, although it will be littered with corporate buzzwords, the details of his role could offer insight into the future of the role of athletic directors in Canadian university athletics. Grunwald has no immediately known affiliation with the CIS prior to the hire – he attended Indiana University for his undergrad and MBA, while going to Northwestern for law school. He then became a Canadian citizen in 1999, five years after he was brought on to work for the Raptors. Grunwald was previously on the Board of Directors at Canada Basketball.
The person who used to hold the role, Jeff Giles, told the Spectator that the majority of his work was to secure funding – either from corporate partners or out of the pockets of alumni.
Putting someone with a recognizable name in charge could help do that, and Mac could use the money. The 13th man campaign launched by the athletic department has not gotten the cash influx that was required, and the school will need to lock down more money if it wants to maintain its status as one of the strongest athletic programs in the country.
It is easy to see the name and, as McMaster students and alumni, pat ourselves on the back for being apart of the headline-grabbing move, but until we hear some tangible and concrete plans, I would refrain from popping bottles in the name of Grunwald. There’s still a ton of work to be done before we know if the splashy hire will bear any championship-winning fruit.
There is no reason to be anything but optimistic about the move. It is a big name coming to an already strong department, and members of the McMaster community should be thrilled with the choice. This will raise the program up, but the question is: how high?