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The Citadel football team runs onto the field before a game. File/Wade Spees/Staff

The Citadel has hired a search firm to help find its next athletic director and hopes to have a new boss in place by the start of football season in September.

Parker Executive Search of Atlanta has been contracted to help with the search and was on campus Thursday to hold meetings with members of The Citadel's athletic department, according to Dr. Dan Bornstein, chairman of the school's search committee.

"Ultimately, our goal is to have somebody in place in time for kickoff in the fall," said Bornstein, a Citadel professor in the department of Health, Exercise and Sport Science.

The Citadel is looking to replace Jim Senter, who was AD at the military school for three years before taking the same job at Texas-El Paso last November. Rob Acunto has been serving as interim AD.

Parker Executive Search is one of the most well-known head-hunting firms in college sports, once described as "college athletics' biggest dating service."

A Citadel spokesman said Parker Executive Search would be paid by The Citadel Foundation, but said he could not disclose the amount of the fee. A recent contract with the University of Virginia said "Parker Executive Search’s standard professional fee for conducting executive search assignments is one third of the first year’s compensation."

Senter's last salary figure at The Citadel was $201,338; one-third of that figure is about $67,000.

Parker employees were on campus Thursday conducting three separate meetings with athletic department staff and coaches. Bornstein said the school's search committee also met for two hours to discuss the process of hiring a new AD.

"Parker will draft the actual job description in the next couple of days and make it public sometime next week," Bornstein said. "We'll broadcast it nationally through their channels and Citadel channels, and that's when we'll hit the go button."

Bornstein said he hopes to narrow the field to about 20 to 25 "viable candidates" over the next six to eight weeks. Then the search committee will cull the list to 10 to 12 people to interview in person at the end of July and in early August.

The committee will come up with a list of finalists to come to campus and meet with new Citadel president Gen. Glenn Walters. The names of the finalists will be made public, Bornstein said.

Bornstein said the new AD doesn't necessarily need to have military experience or be a Citadel graduate, but must "understand that they are walking into an environment that's a little bit different from other institutions, and needs to understand and embrace that."

Experience is key, he said.

"We're not looking for a rookie," he said. "We want someone who has been there and one that has done it at least once or twice before. But we also want someone who has a youthful exuberance and can bring energy to their position, to the campus and to the department."

Also important: Fund-raising ability.

"We want somebody with a track record of being fiscally responsible and the ability to go out and bring in new revenue," he said, "someone who can think creatively and work with our foundation."

Bornstein said a number of candidates already have expressed interest.

"We want this to be as broad a net as possible," he said. "We're keen on identifying the very best person out there."

Members of the AD search committee are Board of Visitors members Jamie Khan and J.C. Dominick; Xavier Starkes, president of the Brigadier Foundation's board; Dr. Jay Dowd of The Citadel Foundation; assistant provost Dr. Faith James; Capt. Geno Paluso, the commandant of cadets; and Citadel supporter Jimmy Reed.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC