Originally created 05/24/04

AU will pay $100,000 for basketball coaches search



AUBURN, Ala. -- Chicago-based executive recruiter John Mengelt will be paid $100,000 by Auburn University for his role in finding new head basketball coaches for the men's and women's programs.

Mengelt, an All-American basketball player at Auburn in the 1970s and now the head

of Breckenridge Partners, said the fee "was far less than what I might charge" for executive searches. His clients include some top corporations.

Mengelt said he agreed to participate in the searches because of his "love for Auburn University."

The coach-search fee charged "was mostly dictated by the school," he told The Birmingham News for a story Sunday.

"I had no clue, and I don't think the president did, how much time would be involved. I didn't have much control over that," he said.

Mengelt assisted Hal Baird, the Auburn athletic assistant to the president, with the searches that produced Jeff Lebo as the men's coach and Nell Fortner as the women's coach.

"John provided a lot of valuable information, particularly in the early stages of the searches," Baird said. "He had compiled lists of names and had done reference and resource background on a large number of the candidates."

Mengelt said Breckenridge Partners has conducted more than 700 searches for corporations such as General Motors, General Electric and top life sciences and biotech corporations.

Those executive searches usually take three or four months, he said. Auburn's searches were done in a tighter time frame.

Mengelt said the basketball searches were his first athletics-related searches.

Lebo replaced Cliff Ellis, who was fired in March. Fortner succeeded Joe Ciampi, who retired.