Indianapolis Public Schools hired Jamal Smith as district athletic director tonight, abandoning a proposal to outsource management to a private company led by Smith.
Smith will leave his position as head of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission to join IPS as the full-time athletic director. The private company that Smith leads — the FLOwens Group, LLC — will not have a contract with the district.
Smith will earn $110,000 per year as athletic director, about $65,000 less than the price tag that was proposed for his company to manage the department. Under the initial contract, FLOwens Group would manage the department for two years for $285,000.
“I thought it was a great proposal — something that we considered, something we brought forth to commissioners, that we were strongly considering,” said Superintendent Lewis Ferebee. “After he presented to the board and thought about it more, (he) decided that he could better serve the district as an employee, and we were happy with that news.”
When Smith presented his proposal to manage the department through his company at an IPS Board meeting Sept. 22, it was met with skepticism from several board members. But tonight the board approved hiring Smith without dissent.
“My concern was that there wasn’t enough information initially. We didn’t see the details,” said board member Mary Ann Sullivan. “If you … know what you’re paying but you don’t know what you’re getting, you don’t know if you’re getting a deal.”
Earlier on Friday, Smith went before the Indiana Ethics Commission, which determined that accepting a position with IPS did not present a conflict of interest, Ferebee said.
Smith will take over for the interim district athletic director on Jan. 4, according to the personnel report.
As assistant coach for the basketball team at Arsenal Tech High School, Smith helped build a team known for student athletes who also were heavily involved in community and winning basketball games. Arsenal won the district’s first state title in decades in 2014.
When he presented his initial plan, Smith said that he hoped to get more kids involved in sports and other extracurricular activities — from music and arts programs to new ventures like student-managed concussions at sports games.
“I think it’s exciting that we’ve already heard that he has some really innovative ideas and wants to do some things that are kind of beyond what maybe traditionally are done by athletic directors,” Sullivan said. “I’m happy that he’s interested in being part of team IPS.”