When Jack Kvancz announced in February his eminent departure from the Department of Athletics, GW took the retirement of the 17-year director of athletics as an opportunity to rebrand.
For almost 20 years the tanned-skinned, deep-voiced Kvancz was a constant figure in the Smith Center with his chewed cigar permanently hanging out of his mouth.
Kvancz was GW athletics.
Now, the school’s athletic persona is changing, and the department is at a transformative moment.
Yesterday, students learned they might not be able to expect the same presences from the department’s new leaders.
At an open forum to discuss reforms for the Department of Athletics, a number of University officials attended the event, including President Steven Knapp and Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak.
But three critical members of the athletic review process were missing.
Russell Ramsey, chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees, and Randy Levine, the chair of the committee leading the athletics review, did not go to the town hall. Patrick Nero, the newly announced athletic director, was also absent.
Ramsey, Levine and Nero should have shown the athletic community they are committed not just to the flagship sports programs, but to all athletic concerns on campus. As a majority of the students at Wednesday’s forum asked about publicity, resources and access for club and non-flagship programs, this forum should have been the three leaders’ priority.
During the press conference announcing Nero’s appointment, the America East Commissioner emphasized that he wanted to ask questions in order to improve athletics at GW. He had a perfect opportunity to hear that kind of feedback at the town hall just hours after his hiring was announced.
Students were assured at the town hall that the missing leaders would still hear of the comments and concerns shared at the meeting. But in some instances, it carries a great symbolic importance to physically attend these events and field the questions of those who attend.
We are confident the three will indeed receive the information from the meeting, but their collective absence can have a negative appearance on the effectiveness of this athletic review.