By: Amari Dryden, @Amari_Dryden
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Brian D. Stanchak, Founder of The BDS Agency. As a sports agent, Brian’s previous uniquely combined experience as a college basketball coach and athletic director has proven beneficial towards success in the agency’s two and a half years. He was gracious enough to offer up his wisdom on how important relationships are and how students can get into coaching.
What has your journey been like after graduating from Seton Hall to prior to The BDS Agency?
Growing up, I wanted to be a college basketball coach. I started coaching while I was in high school and then went to Seton Hall to work for Tommy Amaker with the men’s basketball team. After graduation, I was fortunate enough to become the Director of Basketball Operations for the men’s and women’s teams at the University of Pennsylvania, working under Fran Dunphy on the men’s side and Patrick Knapp who was the women’s coach there. Coach Knapp steered me toward coaching the women’s side of basketball so I left Penn and went to Fairleigh-Dickinson to be an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for two seasons. I returned to Seton Hall in 2007 to be an assistant women’s basketball coach under long-time coach Phyllis Mangina. At the time, I was 25 years old and already reached my goal of coaching at my alma mater and in the Big East.
In 2011, at the age of 29, I was offered the opportunity to become the Director of Athletics at a University in Pennsylvania. In that role, I had my hands in every aspect of the athletic department and learned a tremendous amount that has proven valuable in my current role as an agent for college basketball coaches.
What inspired you to work in the sport industry?
When I was about 16, I began dreaming of being a college basketball coach. I worked basketball camps all throughout the summer all around the country. Through working camps, I got to know current Harvard Head Coach Tommy Amaker and current Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins at Seton Hall. When I found out Seton Hall had a sport management program that was one of the best in the country, it was a no-brainer for me to go there. I couldn’t see myself working in any other field other than sports. I actually did a short stint as a pharmaceuticals sales rep. I became the number one sales rep in the company in nine months. The money was amazing but I did not enjoy it one bit because it did not involve sports. It’s proof that money is not everything.
What motivated you to create The BDS Agency and what goals do you have for your business?
When I was a Director of Athletics, I was advising coaching friends in terms of contract negotiation and interview preparation. Some of them were having success in obtaining positions and stronger contracts so it was a no-brainer for me to venture into this side officially.
I saw that there was a real need on the women’s side of college basketball, especially for some of the up and coming assistant coaches who were ready to become head coaches but just needed a little extra assistance. They were right at that tipping point of becoming a Head Coach so a little assistance could help them realize their dream. I knew that my uniquely combined experience of having been on both sides of the table as a basketball coach and Director of Athletics would prove beneficial for coaches. As an AD, having conducted coaching searches, interviewed coaches, negotiated contracts for clients, etc., who else better to be able to advise coaches in these areas? Then throw in my knowledge of the industry having been a college basketball coach, I was confident I could be a real asset for coaches.
My goal with my company is to be a part of the process of helping all of my clients realize their dream, whether it’s obtaining another position or a stronger contract. My moto has always been “quality over quantity." I want to work with great coaches and people who are also positive, motivated, and realistic. I don’t work with clients to be a “one hit wonder." I work with my clients to help them in the long-term and throughout their careers.
We’ve been more successful in terms of assistant and non-Division I coaches becoming Division I head coaches than any agency out there over the past two years with ten of our clients becoming Division I head coaches. Combined with the numerous stronger contracts we have assisted our clients obtaining, I have continuous high expectations for success for the future. I work with the best mid-major and non-Division I Head Coaches and Division I assistant coaches in the country. I am confident our success will continue based on the high quality of the coaches we work with.
What are some challenges you currently face and also have overcome after creating your own business?
At the same time of transitioning to becoming an agent, I was also in the process of establishing all the foundational aspects of forming a business. It took a lot of research. Doing all of that by myself was a challenge, but I am thankful for what I learned through my efforts. I didn’t officially begin representing clients or pursuing coaches for about seven months after founding my agency because I wanted to make sure that everything was organized and set before I was able to present something and make it public. I was confident in the business’ potential for success based on my background, network, and assistance through experience I would be able to provide so I first wanted to make sure that everything I did was completely prepared and professional.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
I think there are two aspects of my job that I just love. First, when my clients can finally reach their dream, whether it’s becoming a Division I, II or III Head Coach or obtaining another assistant coaching position, it means more to me than anything else. When I get that phone call from them, we’re both emotional because I’ve been in their shoes and I know how hard they’ve worked on a daily basis and the sacrifices they’ve made to be able to put themselves in that position. A lot of these coaches I’m working with are my friends that go back ten to 12 years. It’s a very emotional time when they final realize their dream and knowing I was a small part of helping them achieve that dream.
Secondly, building relationships with coaches and administrators. I love meeting and talking with new people, not just when there is a need for immediate mutual benefit. I’m very fortunate to have established a really extensive and strong network. Because of this extensive network, so many times I’ll even have administrators ask me about coaches who are not my clients or I’ll have coaches ask me about potential Athletic Director candidates when they have an AD opening. I am always aware of how coaches who are not my clients and administrators treat others or communicate.
What advice do you have for students who want to get into coaching?
Volunteer with your college team where you are that way you can begin to build your network. Once you are working with your college team, make yourself indispensable. No task is too small. Work to the point where if one of those assistant coaches or the Head Coach moved on to another job after you graduated, they would want to take you with them because you made yourself so valuable to them.
In addition, find an AAU organization that you can volunteer with and coach to continue to hone your skills that way. Finally, one way I made a ton of connections and really built my network was working summer basketball camps. Working college basketball camps is huge from a networking standpoint.
Networking is huge. I did a piece for Front Office Sports on networking. It’s not about the quantity of the connections you have but the quality. You don’t want to call on someone only when you need something. Otherwise, it completely negates the perceived relationship you have. You must build and maintain those relationships.
In addition, be aware that your actions, whether it’s in-person or on social media, are always being seen by others. You may never be conscious of the positive or negative impact “others” may have on you and your career.
We would like to thank Brian for his time and insight and we wish him the best in all his future endeavors!