Updated: Dec. 18, 2017 at 6:40 p.m.
Athletic director Patrick Nero will resign from his position at the end of the month, the University announced in a release Monday.
Nero, who has overseen all 27 of GW’s varsity athletic programs since he was named director in 2011, told Provost Forrest Maltzman that he would step down from the “day-to-day responsibilities” of the job Dec. 31. Tanya Vogel, who currently serves as the senior associate athletic director, will take over as acting director, according to the release.
“This is a good time for me, personally, and the University to make a change, it allows for fresh perspectives and ideas to continue the momentum the department has gained these past six years,” Nero said.
Athletic department spokesman Brian Sereno said Nero would be available in the spring to help with the transition.
“Patrick has said he has accomplished his objectives at GW and that the time is right for him to take some time to think about the next phase of his professional life,” Sereno said.
During his tenure, GW teams accumulated 22 championships and Nero was awarded 2017 Under Armor Athletic Director of the Year. He led the University’s effort in expanding its support and funding of athletic programs, highlighted in their five-year strategic plan, released in 2012.
“I am proud of my contributions toward the success of the athletics program at GW and look forward to seeing where the future of GW Athletics leads as I pursue the next phase of my career,” Nero said in the release.
Maltzman said Nero helped to lead the implementation of the strategic plan in the athletic department and his efforts have led to better “resources and support for student-athletes.”
Nero joined the department after working as the commissioner of the America East Conference for six years. He took over the role when former athletic director Jack Kvancz retired after leading the department for 17 years.
“He has built a strong foundation for our athletics programs that has allowed our student-athletes to compete at the highest level,” Maltzman said.
But near the end of his tenure, Nero faced criticism and allegations from former athletic department employees.
Nero was named in a sex discrimination lawsuit filed against the University in September. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claimed in the suit that Nero treated his executive assistant unlawfully by paying her about $40,000 less than a male employee in a “substantially equal” position, according to the suit.
The University responded to the commission’s complaint with a motion to dismiss in November, claiming the EEOC did not offer enough evidence to prove the athletic department violated any workplace discrimination laws.
Sereno said the EEOC lawsuit did not contribute to Nero’s decision to step down.
Last year, GW’s most prominent program – men’s basketball – faced leadership turnover after former head coach Mike Lonergan was fired following an investigation into allegations of verbal and emotional abuse. In the allegations, players claimed that Lonergan, who was hired shortly after Nero in 2011, “shared his distaste for Nero in a manner both inappropriate and outlandish,” according to the Washington Post.
The University settled with Lonergan for an undisclosed amount in September after he threatened to sue for wrongful termination.
Vogel, who also serves as senior woman administrator and deputy Title IX coordinator, will take over for Nero before GW initiates “a search for a permanent successor,” the release said.
Vogel has served in her role at GW since 2015. She previously worked at GW as the head women’s soccer coach for 12 years and played for the Colonials as an undergraduate.
Nero said he is ready to step down this year after completing 30 years working in college athletics.
“I have always wanted the Department of Athletics and Recreation to be about our students and positioning them to become the next leaders of our society,” he said. “It has been a privilege to be a part of the lives of these young men and women on their road to becoming champions.”
This post was updated to reflect the following:
After publishing, the University responded to The Hatchet’s request for comment. The post was updated to reflect the comments.