Erich Martens, principal at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School, is poised to become executive director of the Minnesota State High School League.
Martens, a former high school coach and former league board member, has “enthusiastically accepted’’ an offer of the position pending approval of the organization’s board on Monday, the league said in a news release Friday. He would replace Dave Stead, who has held the post since 1988.
The league said Martens, a school principal for more than a decade, is “strongly recommended’’ by the organization’s selection committee.
“Erich Martens’ credentials are impressive as his interviews,’’ the release said. “We strongly believe he is an excellent choice to lead the MSHSL.’’
His selection comes amid a speed-up this week in the league’s selection timeline and concerns from at least one board member and others about the process’s transparency.
The league announced three finalists, including Martens, on Monday and said the committee would make its recommendation to the board for consideration at its Nov. 30 meeting. Two days later it scheduled a special board meeting for next Monday to act on the committee’s recommendation.
A letter to board members from Dave Swanberg, the league’s board president, said “all parties would be better served’’ by moving up the board vote. He noted that a provisional round of candidate interviews scheduled for Thursday was not needed and that background, reference and contractual aspects could be completed this week.
Board member Rob Carpentier, the athletic director at Christo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis, said, “I trust the people involved and I know we have good candidates, but the process in and of itself leaves me a bit concerned.”
Others expressed similar sentiments to the Star Tribune. Carpentier, who represents a geographic region of schools, cited the lateness in which the recommendation process was announced and having a relatively short period of time to review the finalists.
“The biggest concern I have, and that’s been given to me by other athletic directors and one that I share, is that this is such an important position to activities in this state that we shouldn’t be hastening the process but rather slowing it down,” Carpentier said.
Swanberg, the athletic director at LeSueur-Henderson, acknowledged in an interview that he had heard from Carpentier and “his concerns were duly noted and the selection committee spent a lot of time discussing them.”
Swanberg added, “The word transparency keeps coming up but I don’t know what that means to the people using it. We tried to be as open and as transparent as we could.”
Stead announced in August that he is stepping down Feb. 1 and will assume a senior administrative role with the organization. He is the longest-serving executive director in the league’s 101-year history.
Martens was named principal of the year in 2013 by the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals. He attended St. John’s University and St. Cloud State University. He worked as a math teacher before becoming an administrator.
The other two finalists, whom the league said it interviewed Monday, were Mindy Chevalier, community education director and assistant principal at Belle Plaine High School, and Troy Urdahl, activities and facilities director at St. Anthony High School.