Sports, University News

Hofstra athletic director to replace Goldberger

By
Sports Editor
Friday, April 6, 2012

Jack Hayes will take over as athletic director starting next academic year.

Jack Hayes was announced as the University’s new director of athletics at a ceremonial press conference in the Joukowsky Room of the Pizzitola Center Thursday afternoon. Hayes, a Providence native and the current athletics director at Hofstra University, will succeed the retiring Michael Goldberger and assume his new duties July 1.

The appointment comes about two months after Goldberger announced his decision to step down at the end of the 2011-12 academic year. Hayes was selected by a search committee chaired by Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services. The committee also included Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron, football Head Coach Phil Estes, women’s lacrosse Head Coach Keely McDonald ’00, Professor of Anthropology and Interim Director of Institutional Diversity Lina Fruzzetti, softball captain Erika Mueller ’13 and men’s soccer captain Ryan McDuff ’13, among others.

Representing the committee, Klawunn took to the podium to introduce Hayes to a room filled with members of the press, coaches, administrators, guests and alumni.

“As we stand poised to take on critical fundraising goals, facility improvements and continuing to offer the best student-athlete experience possible, we needed to select an athletic director for Brown with the right mix of leadership, experience and commitment,”  Klawunn said. “We believe that Jack Hayes is the right person for this job.”

Hayes’ roots in Providence run deep. He attended high school at Providence Country Day School, where he played lacrosse, football and basketball and was named to the school’s athletic hall of fame in 2004. He did not have to go far for college – he enrolled at Providence College, where he played varsity lacrosse and graduated in 1989. After commencement, Hayes had his first stint with Brown’s athletic department, interning for a year with the sports information office.

Hayes stressed that the relationship between academics and athletics is critical to the undergraduate experience and cited his year in the Brown athletic office as integral for instilling those beliefs in him.

“I was so fortunate that first year out of school to come to Brown,” Hayes said. “I learned in the short period of time I was here … about an atmosphere that is about academics first, but where athletics is important, and I left after that one year believing that philosophy and incredibly impressed by what the Ivy League had to offer. To be able to come back 22 years later is a great feeling.”

“For me, athletics have always been an important part of the education process,” Hayes added. “To complement academics, which should always be the priority, with something like athletics, to me, can always benefit an education.”

After his year at Brown, Hayes worked in sports administration at Fairfield University, St. John’s University and Fordham University. In 2001, he earned his first major appointment as associate athletic director at UConn.

At UConn, Hayes “was responsible for fundraising, the annual fund, major gifts, working with donors and coordinating a capital campaign,” Klawunn said. “That’s one of our big challenges right now, and we’re very pleased that he’s going to help us to meet that challenge.”

In 2004, Hayes was hired to his first athletic director job at the age of 37 by Hofstra, a NCAA Division I member of the Colonial Athletic Association. Hayes thanked the President of Hofstra, Stuart Rabinowitz, for “taking a chance on me” and said he is leaving “a school that I liked very much.”

“I enjoyed my time at Hofstra, and it is a wonderful place,” Hayes said. “But this was an opportunity that I could not pass up.”

In his eight years at Hofstra, the Pride have taken home 21 CAA championships and earned berths in 26 NCAA postseason tournaments. The Hofstra men’s lacrosse and women’s soccer teams have been especially successful recently.

Seth Tierney, men’s lacrosse head coach at Hofstra, said Hayes’ departure came as a bit of a surprise but added that he wished Hayes all the best in his new position.

“He’s done an awful lot for Hofstra athletics,” Tierney said. “He was a tremendous boss to work for. I know he’s going to do great things.”

Hofstra women’s soccer coach Simon Riddiough said he was “sad and disappointed” that Hayes was departing and that Hayes’ presence at nearly every home game will be missed.

One of the biggest developments in Hofstra athletics history came in 2009 during Hayes’ tenure, when the university eliminated its football program because of financial constraints.  The decision, which meant the $4.5 million annually committed to football was reallocated for academics and scholarships, brought to an end a 72-year old program that had recently sent star wide receiver Marques Colston to the National Football League.

“It was an unfortunate situation, but one from which I certainly gained a lot of experience in how to deal with a situation that was a hot-button issue, that was certainly being viewed by the public and that involved the welfare of student-athletes,” Hayes said.

McDuff said the decision to cut football was one of the tough decisions Hayes had to make while at Hofstra, and that those experiences as a sitting director “made him an interesting candidate.”

Hayes cited three main reasons – “Brown’s reputation, Brown’s tradition and Brown’s potential” –  for why he accepted the job offer and went on to stress that improving the student-athlete experience at Brown will be one of the priorities in his mission as athletic director.

Hayes said he believes that rivalries and tradition in college athletics are starting to dissipate, but that the sense of tradition and importance of every league game in the Ivy League was something he wanted to be a part of.

“When you have an outstanding reputation of excellence, and you
have tradition, the opportunities are there for great potential,” Hayes said. “I want to work every day to make sure that the coaches are in a position where they can succeed, and the student-athletes are in a position where they can succeed.”

One of Hayes’ first major appointments will be filling the men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. Under Goldberger, the department decided to not renew the contract of Jesse Agel at the conclusion of the team’s seventh place finish in the Ivy League. One possible candidate is Interim Head Coach T.J. Sorrentine, a Pawtucket native who has been on the coaching staff for four years and was named associate head coach at the start of the season. Hayes said conducting the search is something he wishes to start as soon as possible.

Goldberger said the hiring is one of the department’s highest priorities, and that he will help Hayes in any way he might be able to, but the decision on how to proceed will be Hayes’.

But before he pursues any specific goals, Hayes said he will first simply acclimate himself to the University community.

“I think one of my first challenges is to get to know Brown,” Hayes said. “I know the position of director of athletics having done that at another school. I know the community aspect having grown up in Rhode Island and having gone to high school and college in Providence, but I spent only one year at Brown 22 years ago. That’s my challenge, and that’s what we’ll get after right away.”

Hayes will assume his post at the same time that President-elect Christina Paxson takes over for President Ruth Simmons, both of whom Hayes said he met with during the last week. Goldberger said the situation of having both an incoming president and athletic director is unique, but he is confident that the experience both bring to their respective roles will make the transition a smooth one.

“President Paxson has been at Princeton, and I think is familiar with the values of what athletics at an Ivy institution ought to be,” Goldberger said. “I think Jack clearly understands and appreciates what we’re all about, so I have a feeling that it might be that great of a transition.”

Hayes will be stepping into the position after what McDuff described as a “trying year” for Bruno student-athletes, citing last spring’s proposal to cut four sports and an opinions column in The Herald that promoted the idea that “athletics really had no part at Brown.”

But McDuff said he thought the decision of the Athletics Review Committee not to cut the four sports and instead commit funding to athletics has “taken a step forward to reintegrate athletics back into the campus.”

“I think the direction we’re going is great,” Mueller said. “After the Athletic Review Committee last year, it was recognized by everyone at the school that athletics was one of the top priorities and that positive changes needed to be made.”

Both McDuff and Mueller, who are also the co-presidents of the Student Athletic Advisory Council, expressed their excitement about the appointment.

“I think the reaction of everyone involved is extremely excited,” Mueller said. “His qualifications and his vision and his ability to make tough decisions has been demonstrated throughout the search.”

McDuff said the committee decided among an “impressive” group of candidates from a broad range of experiences, but in his view, it was Hayes’ personality, vision and confidence that separated him from the field and “made us confident that he was going to come in and get the job done.”

It will surely be a busy few months to come for Hayes as he begins to undertake the challenges of his new post. For now, Hayes’ homecoming already has the Brown athletic community, and Hayes himself, excited for what is to come.

“I am thrilled to be here at Brown,” Hayes said. “And I am thrilled to be back in Rhode Island.”

– With additional reporting by Ashley McDonnell

 

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