The commissioner of the Division-I America East Conference was named the new director of athletics Wednesday morning, an instrumental position that will help steer the evolving Department of Athletics.
America East Commissioner Patrick Nero will take the helm of the department amid a review launched by the Board of Trustees and chaired by New York Yankees team President Randy Levine. The review will take a comprehensive look at the direction of athletic programs at GW.
Nero, a 1987 graduate of Providence College, said his ultimate goal will be to establish GW as an athletic powerhouse in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“It’s what I see as one of the best athletic director’s jobs in the country, but for me, just as importantly, one of the great universities in the country,” Nero said. “I certainly feel that if we can be competitive and at the top of the Atlantic 10 in every sport – and that will be our goal – then we can be very competitive regionally and nationally.”
The vision will require Nero to meet with the coaches and other athletic leaders, he said, adding that he plans to examine each program separately to gain a sense of the program’s relative strengths and weaknesses.
“I see the next two months, asking a lot of questions and identifying, my expertise, where the gap may be between providing a lot of resources to a program and that program not winning,” Nero said. “We will make sure they have every resource to be as successful they can be in every way.”
Beyond GW’s flagship programs, Nero will also oversee intramural and club sports, as well as recreation programs on campus. He said he is looking forward to connecting with the student population, and his goal is to marry student interests with his future direction for the athletic department.
“Patrick’s got a good vision,” current Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz said. “He and I have had a long conversation and I think his view of what GW can be, versus what my view was, I don’t think it’s very different.”
Nero brings with him 23 years of experience working in intercollegiate sports. His work as commissioner required him to oversee all operational aspects of the NCAA Division I Conference. He has held numerous NCAA leadership roles, including serving on the NCAA Management Council and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Board of Directors. Nero also has extensive experience in athletic department management, including serving as the Director of Athletics for the University of Maine from 2003 to 2005.
Foremost in Nero’s responsibilities will be addressing the futures of both the men’s and women’s basketball programs. The contracts of men’s basketball head coach Karl Hobbs, and women’s basketball head coach Mike Bozeman, will both be up at the end of 2012. The decisions concerning their futures at GW, and subsequently, the futures of the basketball programs, will fall to Nero.
Nero wouldn’t speak about specifics Wednesday, saying he had yet to give particular thought to the futures of the basketball coaches. He added that basketball, like the other GW sports teams, will undergo program examination and his plans for the teams will form from there.
Hobbs said he is looking forward to meeting with Nero to discuss the future of the men’s basketball program and he is heartened by Nero’s experiences.
“I’m thinking this is an exciting moment for GW Athletics and for the program. Change is good, it challenges all of us to be better,” Hobbs said. “I envision my relationship to be one of a great partnership. One in which I’m falling under his leadership and that all decisions that I make will be run through Patrick.”
The search for a new athletic director began with Kvancz’s announcement that he would retire June 30, after 17 years in the position. A selection team composed of University President Steven Knapp, Senior Vice Provost and Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Services Robert Chernak, Board of Trustees Chairman Russell Ramsey, and Board member and New York Yankees team president and GW alumnus Randy Levine, who is overseeing the ongoing comprehensive review of GW Athletics, began a nationwide search for candidates.