Q&A: New AD Martin Jarmond discusses making an impact at UCLA

Meet Martin Jarmond, the first African American athletic director in UCLA history

5/21/2020 11:33:00 PM

Meet Martin Jarmond, the first African American athletic director in UCLA history

New athletic director Martin Jarmond says working at UCLA will give him a chance to make an impact at an elite athletic and academic university.

AdvertisementThe one thing I can tell you is, I’m going to lock arms with him and try to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to help football be successful; you have to do that — that’s nonnegotiable. Football is too important and the success and what we’re trying to do and we want to win, you’ve got to be alive and you’ve got to be locked in from an athletic director’s standpoint to say, “Hey, what do you need and how best can we get there to help us be successful?” So that’s something I’m committed to, and my first phone call with Chip over the weekend when I called him after [the hiring] was done and I said, “Hey, I’m looking forward to working with you and learning what I can do to be helpful so we can keep moving this thing forward.”

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So was that one of the first calls you made?Yeah, he was one of the first calls I made, absolutely.How did that conversation go? Was he receptive?AdvertisementOh, yeah, it was great. It was a great conversation, he was excited for me and I’m looking forward to working with him and getting to know him and just understanding the ins and outs of his program and how we can move forward, so it was a great conversation and I’ve heard great things about him from people in the industry. Obviously, the guy that I hired at Boston College as head coach, Jeff Hafley, was on Chip’s staff at San Francisco, so he shared some thoughts about Chip and I’m just looking forward to getting there and working with him.

How will you go about evaluating coach Kelly after he lost more than twice as many games as he won in his first two seasons, especially given that you’ve said programs either sell hope or winning and it seems right now as if Kelly can’t sell either one?

You know, I have to get there and understand where we are as a program, and so I can’t really understand that until I have a better understanding of the landscape of what we have and that entails a lot — that’s all aspects of the program. So I’ve got to get there and learn from him what I can do to help him be successful and evaluate. You know, obviously, we want to win — winning is important and I’m committed to winning — and so just like Chip would tell you, we want to win more games than we lose, obviously. But for me to tell you how I’m going to do and evaluate, that’s premature right now. I have to understand where we are and how we stack up and just learn more about the program in general.

UCLA donors have been very generous in their giving over the last decade, contributing roughly a half billion dollars toward a variety of projects. How will you go about countering potential donor fatigue, especially given the lack of success in football?

AdvertisementI’m excited just to meet all of our donors and our fans and just engage in a meaningful way. You know, it’s about relationships and I’m anxious to get started with forming those relationships and learning from them about getting their perspective and how they feel about UCLA athletics and how they feel they can support and help us move forward. As far as donor fatigue, the good thing about coming in new is I’m not privy to any of that.

What I do know is, we need donor support to be successful. What I do know is no matter what has happened in the past, we need everybody to help us move forward and get to the place that we want to be and we want to maintain being elite. That’s the goal and we are elite and we’ve got to keep pushing that to maintain and push forward, especially from a broad-based standpoint. So we need everybody and whether there’s fatigue or not, I have no idea. What I do know is, we’re not going to be able to do this without the help and support of our fans and donors and I’m excited to get started.

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UCLA is locked in to long-term apparel and marketing contracts, and the Pac-12’s television deal isn’t up for renewal until 2024. Do you have any ideas for new revenue streams the school can tap to help provide additional resources?You know, I have ideas of things that I’ve either been a part of or implemented, but again, until I get there and understand what we’re doing already, I don’t know. I mean, I can give you 10 thoughts that I’ve already had, but if we’re doing seven of them, you’ve got to think differently. But I have to learn the landscape — what are we doing, what are the opportunities, how do our fans view this? You don’t really form those things until you really get your feet on the ground and get a better understanding of what are we currently doing and what are the opportunities — and that’s a lot of listening and learning from everybody that’s there.

You’ve talked about the link between equity in resources and equity in performance. Do you see the revenue gap between the Pac-12 and other conferences like the Southeastern and Big Ten factoring into the Pac-12’s relative lack of appearances in the College Football Playoff, and if so what can be done about it?

AdvertisementI’d have to look at that more as far as if that’s a direct result of that, but I would tell you, resources matter, let’s be frank. Resources matter, and you want to have as much of a level playing field with your peers that you can have and so again, I don’t know exactly the Pac-12 landscape and all the revenues and different opportunities. I am aware of the 2024 [TV deal]. As far as what the impact of that does, I don’t know, but what I do know is, resources do matter and you want to be as close as possible to your peers.

There’s been some speculation that the Ohio State athletic director’s job might entice you once Gene Smith retires, given your ties to that university and its status as the gold standard of athletic departments. Is there any merit to that idea?[Laughs] I haven’t even started at UCLA and you’re asking me about another job. I’m just excited to get to Westwood and get some better weather than what I’m used to now and locking arms with everybody to see how we can move our program forward. That’s what my focus is and I appreciate the question, but I haven’t even started and we’re talking about other places.

Your alma mater, North Carolina Wilmington, upset fourth-seeded USC in the first round of the 2002 NCAA tournament a year after you graduated, so you already know what it’s like to root against the Trojans, right?AdvertisementAbsolutely. That was one of my proudest moments. I was like a proud papa. I was in grad school watching that game with my jersey on and when they did it, I collapsed on the floor and just started bawling. I was so happy. Oh, man, I’m getting goosebumps now as I’m walking here. That was a great moment, and I hope to have many more moments where we’re beating USC.

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