Aug 14 2016

Full Time Athletic Director Draws Various Opinions

Lengthy explanations and community input at the August 10, 2016 School Board meeting –

Superintendent Randall Booker calmly and intricately explained the selection process, funding, and need for a full time Athletic Director (AD) for the high schools.

Speaking in support of the selection, need, responsibilities and funding of the position were parents and Booster Club members: Eric Sullivan, Lisa Reynolds, Allison Elvekrog, Barbara Love, Glyn Burge, Steve Kalmbach and Wendy Fitzgerald.

They provided examples of previously unmet needs and their personal experiences. The selection process was extensively detailed.  The funding contributions by the Booster Club of $50,000 and Education Foundation of $10,000 augment the funding provided by the District for a part-time Athletic Director.  Parents emphasized the complexity of the position and the problematic turnover in the position. The AD is responsible for scheduling facility space both for the schools and external organizations, while overseeing 49 teams and 175 coaches.  A timely filing of the position was a primary consideration.

Speaking against the proposed position and selection process were: Ralph Catalano, UC professor and parent, Neil Rothenberg, former Soccer and Tennis Coach, and Burt Curtin, resident. Concern was expressed on the emphasis on athletics and a potential detrimental impact to the overall academic needs of the District. The specific chosen Athletic Director presented concern to some.  It was noted that the significantly increased compensation for a full time AD had not been announced during the recruitment process.

Questions not discussed were:

  • If the position is continued in future years, will the position be partially funded by outside sources or will the funding responsibility be absorbed within the District budget?

  • Will payment for retirement benefits be based on the approximate $125,000 compensation for the full time Athletic Director and funded by the District?

Below is  a letter to the Piedmont Unified School District Families from Superintendent Booker and Principal Daniels explaining their choice and rationale:

Dear PUSD Families,

As the new school year approaches, and many high school athletes are already preparing for Fall sports, we’re writing to share some important information about the Piedmont Unified School District’s administration of student athletics.

PUSD is proud of its student-athletes and successful athletic program.  With over 500 athletes (65%+ of PHS and MHS students), 175 coaches, and 49 varsity, junior varsity, and frosh teams, high school athletics in PUSD is a robust and vital component of the student experience.

In past years, PUSD’s Athletics Director position was a part-time position filled by a teacher at PHS.  As discussed below, this model is no longer sustainable or appropriate.  Given the increase in scope and responsibilities of this position, and the administrative nature of the job, PUSD now requires a full-time Director of Athletics with specific administrative experience.

PUSD Requires A Full-Time Director of Athletics
Over the past 12 years, there has been a marked increase in the scope and responsibilities of the Athletics Director position.  This is due in part to the increase in the number of athletes and coaches, and the range of travel opportunities for our teams.  Given these changes, the responsibilities of the Athletics Director can no longer be fulfilled on a part-time basis.

Over this 12-year period, PUSD has had six different teachers serve this role. This turnover, due to both the growing demands and increasingly administrative nature of the job, has led to inconsistency in leadership and had a detrimental effect on our athletic program as reported by coaches, student-athletes, and families.  By recognizing the full-time nature of the position, PUSD can foster steady and consistent leadership of the athletic program.

The Director of Athletics Position is Administrative in Nature
The Director of Athletics position requires administrative duties that include responsibility for: recruiting, hiring, supervising, and evaluating coaches; development and oversight of the Athletic Department budget; monitoring student eligibility; serving as the school representative of the Western Alameda County Conference; partnering with the PHS Athletic Boosters; and coordinating team schedules, transportation, equipment, and supplies.  By recognizing the administrative nature of the position and hiring staff with relevant administrative experience, PUSD can provide a more effective athletics program that is more responsive to student needs.

The Director of Athletics Must Provide Leadership on Core PUSD Principles
PUSD believes that its athletics program can and should instill life lessons concerning sportsmanship, hard work, teamwork, and integrity, among other issues.  Although coaches can play a critical role in this, the reality is that coaches are now more transient than in the past.  Of our 175 coaches, only two serve as PUSD teachers, and many coaches are affiliated with PUSD for only one or two years.  For these reasons, the Director of Athletics must provide leadership for the coaching staff, guiding and cultivating the social and emotional curriculum for high school athletics, and setting expectations for coaches as well as athletes.  By hiring an experienced Director of Athletics, PUSD can more consistently promote these core values across all sports.

Creation of the New Athletics Director Position
Following the resignation of the former part-time Athletics Director in December of 2015, the District advertised the position to recruit an Interim Athletics Director on a contract basis for January through June of 2016.  The District received 22 applications.  An interview committee, consisting of administrators, coaches, and parents, interviewed five candidates.  Mr. Victor Acuña was selected for the interim position due to his extensive experience and positive recommendations.

Throughout the Spring of 2016, the PHS Administrative Team and the Athletic Booster’s continued discussing the need for increased athletic leadership. Recognizing the District’s limited budget, the PHS Athletic Boosters donated $50,000 for the 2016-17 school year to support a full-time Director of Athletics. The Piedmont Education Foundation also contributed $10,000 to help fund this position for the 2016-17 school year.

With this funding secured, and working in close collaboration with the PHS Athletic Boosters, PUSD created the Director of Athletics position for the 2016-17 school year.  The Director of Athletics will be included in the salary schedule of the Association of Piedmont School Administrators (APSA). The position has a base salary range of $74,068 – $103,048 (ranging from 1 to 22 years of experience), plus health and statutory benefits.

Selection of New Athletics Director
After working with Mr. Acuña during the Spring of 2016, Principal Daniels recommended that PUSD hire Mr. Acuña for the new position.  With support from the PHS Administrative Team, Athletic Booster’s leadership, and a variety of coaches, the Superintendent interviewed and appointed Mr. Acuña as the Director of Athletics.

Mr. Acuña is a graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies.  For 12 years, he was a high school Athletics Director in Tucson, Arizona at the Gregory School and the Green Fields Country Day School.  He has extensive experience in coordinating interscholastic athletic programs.  His strengths lie in working collaboratively with principals, teachers, coaches, student-athletes, and parents to create a supportive and successful athletic program.  He is knowledgeable in developing interscholastic schedules, supervising utilization of athletic facilities, coordinating athletic uses of training and weight rooms, monitoring student eligibility, and the recruitment, hiring, and evaluating of coaches.  Mr. Acuña has direct experience developing stable athletic operating budgets and supervising team accounts.  In addition, he was an associate scout for Major League Baseball.

The selection of Mr. Acuña has drawn considerable praise from those who worked closely with him this past Spring.  Principal Daniels said, “I am enthusiastic and excited for Vic and am thrilled with his positive energy, experience, and leadership qualities.  He is focused and driven to ensure that PHS offers an exceptional educational athletics program.”  PHS Athletic Booster’s President Beth Barrett added, “PHS Boosters is proud to partner with PUSD in supporting a full-time Director of Athletics. As interim Director of Athletics, Vic Acuña has proven a very capable leader who cares deeply about youth sports and will help create a healthy, positive and safe experience for all our student athletes.”

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments about the Director of Athletics position, and please don’t hesitate to contact Mr. Acuña directly about high school athletics at


Randall Booker, Superintendent Piedmont Unified School District

Brent Daniels, Principal Piedmont High School

After taking public testimony and considering the staff report, Board members present gave full and enthusiastic support to the ratification of a full time AD compensation, plus the appointment of Mr. Victor Acuna.

Board members expressed concern over the negative comments in the press regarding the applicant and the apparent lack of information on the selection process and District needs. The Board emphasized the important role athletics and other student activities play in benefiting students now and for their futures. The three affirming School Board members voting at the meeting were Doug Ireland, President Andrea Swenson, and Amal Smith. Board members Rick Raushenbush and Sarah Pearson were absent.

The  AD position is approved for one year and will be re-evaluated prior to continuation in the following year.

2 Responses to “Full Time Athletic Director Draws Various Opinions”

  1. Thank you for the well-reported article. The article states that one unaddressed question is: “Will payment for retirement benefits be based on the approximate $125,000 compensation for the full time Athletic Director and funded by the District?”

    The approximately $125K compensation includes the District’s mandatory CalPERS retirement contribution as well as the same health insurance benefits made available to all District employees. CalPERS contributions are set by the CalPERS Board, and are not individually negotiated with any employee. Mr. Acuna’s actual salary is $94,408.

  2. The new athletic director’s first year salary is $94,408 excluding benefit cost. What is the first year salary of a new teacher excluding benefit cost?

    Has the Booster Club committed to donating $50,000 annually to the Athletic Director’s salary, or will this be taxpayer funded after the first year?

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