Division-I Schools Now Require Rival-Aware Interview Dress Code

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by U. Maritimus
Freelance Writer

"I bought this suit to stand out at the job fair," said one candidate. Now I'm afraid I look like a Clemson fan."
“I spent my search budget on this orange suit so I’d stand out at the job fair,” said one candidate. “Now I just look like a Clemson fan.”

With many conferences and professional associations moving into the slower summer months, college student affairs associations are releasing studies regarding data from the past years’ conventions, institutes and job placement exchanges. One report in particular, NASPA’s TPE TPS Report, or The Placement Exchange Training Process Survey, contained some eye-opening accounts of how some schools find the perfect candidate.

From the two largest Division I athletic conferences, the Big 16 and the Northeastern Conference (NEC) over 75 percent of schools surveyed required some visible form of “Rivalry Awareness” or “GameDay Attitude” as part of their on-campus interview process. This controversial practice is considered by many at schools in these major D-I conferences to be a standard requirement to ensure the right candidate fit for their institutions.

“If a candidate just doesn’t have that devotion to the Lumberjack spirit, I just don’t think they’ll do well on our campus,” commented Jack McDevvitt, Vice President for Student Affairs at Pennsylvania Southern University, a member of the NEC.

Examining the Penn Southern interview schedules for candidates in their Academic Advising and Residence Life positions revealed that candidates were tested on many different areas of school spirit including: Lumberjack Plaid Chest Painting (for football Saturdays) and Lumberjack Flapjack Lunch (no candidates who identified as gluten-free were invited for an on-campus interview).

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This practice, which used to occur only among associations of college athletics professionals, is now quickly becoming the top piece of advice given to new graduates searching for positions at placement exchanges: do not wear the rival’s colors when interviewing with a school. Some candidates feel put off by this trend, which mirrors in intensity the explosion of conference presentations talking about “innovation” during the most recent round of conferences.

“My eyes really pop when I wear a green tie, but my dream job is at Colorado Mountain University where their rivals, Michigan Lakefront College, wear all green,” admitted Raymond Makarian, a recent student affairs graduate, who sported a Colorado Mountain-styled purple tie during this interview. “I bought ten different green ties in a nervous shopping binge before I applied and now I can’t wear any of them. It’s like Calvin Klein said, ‘Judge me not by the color of my tie but by the content of my interview answers.'”

The head of the Division III Northern Regional Technical School Athletic Association, Victoria Rogers, Vice President of Student Life at Minnesota Climate and Technical College also provided insight about this booming D-I fashion trend. Her response via email was a selfie, showing off a Dave Matthews Band Tshirt, jeans and worn Birkenstocks. The subject line: ‘LOL, Don’t Care.’