Wayne Bertrand, who guided Section II athletics through its roughest period, will step down from his position as executive director this upcoming spring.
“Wayne is one of the best athletic administrators we have in the state,” New York State Public High School Athletic Association executive director Robert Zayas said. “His leadership in Section II took them to a different level compared to his arrival. He’s been nothing but a benefit to the schools in Section II.”
A desire to spend more time with his family was the main driver behind the decision for Bertrand, 60, who also said Thursday that he felt the timing was right for him to depart given Section II’s once-troubled finances have been cleaned up.
“We’re doing a lot better,” said Bertrand, who was the athletic director at Guilderland prior to taking his position with Section II. “We’re up and running, and we’re a vital organization now. We restructured a lot of thing, but what needs to be understood is that there was a blueprint there before, too. We didn’t create it, we just brought it up to speed.”
Bertrand started with Section II late in spring 2012, right around the time the organization’s finances came under intense scrutiny. It was eventually determined hundreds of thousands of the section’s dollars were spread across multiple accounts in multiple banks and found in the home of the section’s former treasurer, and that the section owed tens of thousands of dollars in taxes.
Since rectifying that situation, Bertrand said Section II has had consecutive “clean audits” and is in good financial shape. Chris Culnan, Shenendehowa’s athletic director, said Bertrand was the right person at the right time for Section II.
“I think Wayne really saved our section from collapsing. I really do,” Culnan said. “Wayne’s guidance and leadership when we were dealing with financial and accountability issues — his leadership and knowledge, his expertise — was our steadying influence.”
Bertrand also oversaw Section II through the period of time in which the area’s Big 10 Conference disbanded, and a number of schools needed to find new leagues for their sports teams.
“And he navigated that for us,” Culnan said. “He just does a phenomenal job.”
While Bertrand’s role with the section has been business-heavy, he said the favorite piece of his job has been providing guidance when he can to school athletic directors.
“Throughout all of it, the thing I like is the relationships,” Bertrand said. “I like helping the new and beginning ADs, mentoring them — or even the veteran guys when they call me to pick my brain.”
No successor has been named yet for Bertrand. Culnan, a member of the section’s executive committee, said applications are no longer being accepted to fill the vacancy and that several candidates are expected to receive interviews. Culnan said a replacement would likely be nominated in early January and possibly confirmed by the end of that month. The position, according to a job posting, will pay a salary between $80,000 and $90,000 and is listed as officially starting work on April 1, 2017.
“Whoever takes over for Wayne is going to have a difficult job filling his shoes,” Zayas said.
Bertrand said he will spend a good chunk of his final months as executive director mentoring his replacement, while he also expects to do some consulting work with the section after leaving his post.
“So I’m not totally going away,” Bertrand said.
That makes sense.
“He’s always working for the student-athletes of Section II,” Culnan said. “He’s such an advocate for high school sports.”
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