UMass AD Ryan Bamford ‘front porch’ of athletics department


Staff Writer
Published: 11/30/2018 4:31:21 PM

AMHERST — For 11 years, Matt McCall watched the relationship blossom between Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan and Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley.

His front-row seat for that transformation shaped in many ways his views on a successful partnership between coach and athletic director. He described the familial feel that was present in the athletics department in Gainesville and how conducive it was to the success Donovan had on the court.

It didn’t take long in his whirlwind interview process for McCall, now in his second year as the UMass basketball coach, to sense a similar feeling from Minuteman athletic director Ryan Bamford.

“I got that connection from Ryan in my first meeting with him,” McCall said Monday. “He had three conversations with Coach Donovan as well and Billy really felt that way as well about Ryan. To me, that’s the first piece. When your athletic director is in line with the same values you have and you feel like you’re in this thing together, that really helps.”

Bamford is currently jetting across the country interviewing candidates to be the next UMass football coach. He has already made hires for roughly half of UMass’ 19 varsity sports, including both basketball programs, both soccer teams and the hockey program.

And his choices have largely been successful for the Minutemen. Fran O’Leary led the men’s soccer team to the Atlantic 10 title in 2017, Greg Carvel has steered UMass hockey to a No. 3 ranking this year and Jason Dowiak led the Minutewomen back to the A-10 women’s soccer tournament for the first time in four years in his first season.

“I think this place is on the rise athletically, I really believe that,” McCall said. “This is a great time to be a part of this place.”

Even though he now has results he can point to to show UMass’ momentum as an athletic department, Bamford was able to sell many of his coaches on his vision beforehand. Part of the reason is that his reputation as an athletic director preceded him during several interviews.

Carvel said he heard positive things about Bamford from several people before he interviewed for the position, and it became clear to him why he heard those glowing reviews during his conversations.

“Before I came here, I had a few people tell me, that’s an AD you want to work for,” Carvel said. “It didn’t take you long to see he had a vision for the hockey program, he has energy, he has charisma, he’s a guy you want to follow. ... He’s bringing in a certain type of coach and what all of us have in common is what we saw in Ryan.”

Carvel credited Bamford’s leadership for much of UMass’ overall success since Bamford was hired in March 2015. He said Bamford’s vision for the university and his tireless work ethic make him a great partner when building a program.

But it wasn’t only that shared vision that lured Carvel. It was also the fact he believes Bamford is the perfect ambassador for the school and his enthusiasm is contagious during the search process.

“We say athletics is the front porch of the school, he’s the front porch of our athletic department,” Carvel said. “He makes you want to be part of it.”

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