Rocky Mountain College will begin interviewing candidates next week for its vacant athletic director position, and the Frontier Conference school is hoping to have the job filled by the end of the month.
Brad Nason, vice president for student life at Rocky, is heading up the seven-member search committee, which includes RMC president Bob Wilmouth.
"Our committee has met and we have identified six of our top candidates," Nason said. "We will be conducting preliminary (telephone) interviews next week."
The private NAIA school is seeking a replacement for Robert Beers, who resigned on March 26 after spending five years as AD on the 1,000-student campus.
Nason said the school advertised nationally and received 35 completed applications for the job, with another 15 inquires or partially-completed applications.
"I've been surprised at the level of interest ... pleasantly surprised," he said. "The quality of candidates is outstanding.
"We have people with extensive, decades-worth of experience in college level, NAIA-level athletics and athletic administration."
Nason said there are a couple of Montanans in the group identified as the top six candidates. The rest of the finalists are from various locations across the country.
"We're not in a position to release their names," Nason said.
He said the search committee, through next week's phone interviews, will be looking to whittle that group down to between two to four candidates.
The plan is to bring those finalists to campus and have them also interact with alumni, community members familiar with the athletic department, along with faculty, administrators, department heads and staff.
"The search committee, of course, will meet and take all of those voices in account when we make a decision," Nason said. "I'd really like to have this wrapped up by the end of the month."
In searching for Beers’ replacement, Nason said the committee will center on "who fits Rocky Mountain College the best.
He said embracing the school's concept "that our young men and women are here for academics first and athletics and other things second is certainly high on our list."
Nason said Rocky will also be looking for "a candidate with a tremendous vision for where the (athletic) program can go, relative to the college's plans ...
“Someone that is visionary, someone that can lead and hold the athletic department accountable, and will be accountable to the athletic department, as well,” he added.
No salary figure for the AD position was available from Nason. "We're trying to be as competitive as we can be given our circumstances," he said.
In resigning, Beers expressed some frustration over the 24/7 nature of the job.
“Once the (new) director gets here we’ll certainly need to look at our internal structure and how we’re set up administratively,” Nason said. “But that will need to be sort of a campus-wide conversation.”
Rocky won the Frontier’s 2014 Bandy Award, which is given out annually to the conference’s most successful athletic program.
"I think the table is absolutely set at Rocky Mountain College for someone to come in and be very successful," Nason said. "Bobby left us in good stead.
"I'm looking forward to the new opportunity that this presents. I think the entire college community is as well. It's an opportunity for us to take another step forward, I think, and that's what the whole committee is oriented around."