When David Hines was named the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s assistant executive director in June of 2015 one of his immediate mandates was to improve what had become a fractious relationship between the AIA and its 262 member schools.
He traveled throughout the state, meeting with administrators and coaches. He listened rather than insisted. He kept in mind that the AIA is an association, not a corporation. As those relationships mended Hines’ stature in the high school community grew.
The end result: On Monday he was named the AIA’s new executive director, replacing the retiring Harold Slemmer. Hines, who will start on July 1, was chosen by a unanimous vote of the AIA’s executive board. He beat out two other finalists: Anna Battle, Tempe Union assistant superintendent for district operations, and Mike Sivertson, coordinator of athletics and business operations at Peoria Unified School District.
Jacob Holiday, executive board president and athletic director at Monument Valley High School, said that when board members talked about the executive director position to people in their respective conferences, Hines often was praised for the job he did the last two years in rebuilding the AIA’s image among its constituents.
“I think that he had a huge hand in moving the AIA from point A to point B,” Holiday said. “He’s a doer. That’s what we want for the future of the AIA.”
Hines is a logical choice to replace Slemmer. He knows the high school community from the inside, having been an athlete, coach and then the longtime athletic director at Mesa Mountain View. He also understands how the AIA operates; he was a tournament coordinator before being named assistant executive director.
That experience, Hines said, “is a big help. You’ve kind of been there, done that. You know the issues you have to deal with. And you can help lead from that standpoint.”
It was interesting to hear Hines answer questions his new job. He repeatedly talked about the AIA “servicing” its membership. He mentioned relationships and working together and “listening” to what the schools want. It might sound crafted coming from somebody else but it’s truly what the low-key Hines believes in. He was instrumental in the AIA’s decision to give conferences more autonomy when it comes to issues like scheduling, classification, post-season tournaments, etc.
Not everyone will agree with every decision he makes – think state tournament sites – but those decisions will be well thought-out, communicated effectively and, as much as possible, in deference to the respective conferences, districts and schools.
“He wants the AIA to be the best it can be but he realizes the AIA can only be its best if it’s doing best by the schools,” said Mesa Public Schools Athletic Director Steve Hogen.
Hines said he doesn’t have any immediate goals but he is open to discussing one of the thorniest issues in recent years: What should be the make-up of football conferences? He said there has been discussion about whether football should be treated separately when it comes to classification and while a final decision is up to the AIA’s legislative council, “I’d certainly be willing to listen to what the membership says.”
“Football is truly a numbers game,” Hines said. “Because of that and the physical nature of football it is the one sport that is uniquely different than any other team sport we have.”
Hines said he hasn’t decided who he will recommend to the board to be his assistant executive director. One name that makes sense: Joe Paddock, director of interscholastics for the Amphitheater Unified School District. Paddock has been an executive board member, he’s an expert regarding the AIA’s bylaws and, most importantly, he would represent Tucson school officials who have sometimes felt ignored by the AIA.
Reach Bordow at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/sBordow. He can be reached at 602-448-8716