CEDAR RAPIDS — Tom Keating will go to the Iowa High School Athletic Association with an open mind. And open eyes.
“I’ll lean heavily on the representative councils, the coaches’ associations, the advisory committees,” Keating said Wednesday morning, shortly after the IHSAA announced him as the next executive director, effective July 1.
“We’ll see what bubbles to the top. The TV thing, we might want to take a look at that.”
The “TV thing” has made the IHSAA a lightning rod in recent years. The IHSAA’s partnership with the Iowa High School Sports Network has led to criticism to both parties because a good share of Iowans are unable to view state tournament competition in most boys’ sports on their cable systems.
“Some folks don’t feel it meets the needs of all of our constituents,” Keating said. “How can we make this more appealing? Right now, I don’t know enough about it, and that’s something I’ll need to do.”
Keating, 63, is the president at Cedar Rapids Xavier and will become the sixth IHSAA executive director. He will succeed Alan Beste, who announced his retirement in August.
According to Rod Earleywine, IHSAA Board of Control vice chairman as well as Sergeant Bluff-Luton superintendent, Keating was one of “about a dozen” applicants in a national search, and one of four finalists interviewed.
“I guess you could say the cream always rises to the top,” Earleywine said. “(Keating) understands Iowa athletics and extra-curriculars. He has been a teacher, a coach, an AD, a principal and a president.
“He has been successful in leading. I feel this was an outstanding hire.”
A native of Philadelphia, Keating began his career as a teacher and coach at Maxwell High School in 1977, then was hired at Dubuque Wahlert in 1980.
Keating led the Golden Eagles to 11 state volleyball championships as head coach, and also served as Wahlert’s athletics director. In 2004, He was hired as principal at Xavier, then became the school president in 2018.
“This is a sad day for Xavier,” said Duane Schulte, teacher of law, economics and government, as well as the head varsity football coach at Xavier. “All the things he spearheaded here, like block scheduling ... this is a big loss.
“I’m happy for him, if this is what he wants to do. He has earned this opportunity. He understands how all extra-curricaular activities work. He gets it.”
A former advisory committee member for the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, Keating served on the IHSAA Board of Control from 2008 through 2018.
“The opportunity to be on the Board of Control, that gave me a closer view of the IHSAA,” Keating said. “That involvement helped me appreciate all they do, and all the kids they serve.
“In short, my goal is to focus on how to best serve high school kids through the programs that the IHSAA offers.”
Earleywine said Keating’s first-year base salary will be $165,000, plus benefits. By comparison, Beste’s most recent salary shared by the IHSAA was $190,647 in 2015, plus benefits.
“We did a comparison with other association leaders from other states, and this is a rate we felt comfortable with,” Earleywine said.
Keating said Xavier “will start the process” to find his successor soon. His start date in Boone is July 1, and he has no idea on an end date.
“I’ll do this as long as I have the energy and passion for it,” he said. “I don’t do well when I’m not involved in something.”