By KEVIN McNAMARA
Providence College leaders hinted only a few days ago that they felt that their athletic department was a successful, well-oiled machine so why mess up a good thing. Then they stayed in-house and hired Steven Napolillo to replace Bob Driscoll as Athletic Director.
Providence College President Rev. Kenneth R. Sicard announced Wednesday that Napolillo will begin his new position as vice president and athletic director on July 1, 2022 and also serve as a member of the president’s cabinet.
“Steve has demonstrated that he possesses the key qualities that drive success,” Father Sicard said in a press release. “I have witnessed firsthand Steve’s evolution as a leader over the past 18 years, and I am confident that he will continue to build and expand upon the legacy Bob Driscoll created and nurtured at Providence College during the past two decades.”
Father Sicard added, “Before being elected president in 2020, I was blessed to have served as executive vice president to PC President Father Brian J. Shanley from 2005-2020. I learned a great deal from him, and when I assumed my new role, was able to continue and build upon the legacy he left behind. I recognize the similarity that exists between Bob and Steve’s relationship. Such continuity of leadership allows for a seamless transition that ensures the ongoing success we have enjoyed under Bob’s leadership and encourages new opportunities. I am completely confident that Steve will oversee the PC athletic program with integrity, commitment, and genuine passion for excellence.”
Napolillo, a PC alum from the Class of 1998, was hired by Driscoll in 2004 as assistant director of athletic relations after a tenure in Sales with the Pawtucket Red Sox. He rose through the ranks at PC to director of athletic development, then to associate athletic director for external relations, and finally senior associate athletic director/assistant vice president for external relations, a position he has held at the College since 2014. He also has held the position of men’s basketball administrator for the past three seasons.
“I am grateful, humbled and excited to be the next Athletic Director at Providence College,” Napolillo said in a press release. “I am thankful to Father Sicard for giving me this incredible opportunity and for the confidence he has shown in me. In addition to Father Sicard, I would remiss if I did not appreciate my coworkers, coaches, season ticket holders, donors, fans, alumni, friends, and family who have supported me throughout my career. I look forward to building on an amazing legacy that has been created over the last 21 years under Bob Driscoll. He has been a mentor, friend, and father figure. Providence Athletics will always be a student-centric department that gives our student-athletes the best experience in the classroom and on the field of play. Providence College student-athletes graduate with the opportunity to excel in their careers. Providence College is a special place and I look forward to working together with so many talented people to compete for championships and to reach new heights in Friartown.”
During his tenure at PC, Napolillo has overseen many facets of athletics. He played an integral role in coach searches resulting in the hiring of Head Men’s Ice Hockey Coach Nate Leaman, Head Men’s Basketball Coach Ed Cooley, Head Women’s Soccer Coach Sam Lopes, and Head Women’s Ice Hockey Coach Matt Kelly.
As a fundraiser, he played a decisive part in securing more than $75 million in gifts while supporting strategic decision making for additional capital projects on campus including the renovation of Schneider Arena and Alumni Hall, Anderson Stadium’s new soccer and lacrosse complex, the Ray Treacy Track and Field Complex and much more. He also worked closely with major gift donors as lead solicitor to secure a $10 million gift for the $30 million renovation of the Ruane Friar Development Center. The Friars Forever Athletic Fund, which was established to support 19 teams, was developed and led by Napolillo. He has overseen the PC Athletic marketing, ticketing, and development office for the last decade during which time sales doubled to reach over $5.3 million dollars in ticket sale revenue.
Also quoted in the extensive release were Driscoll, basketball coach Ed Cooley, hockey coach Nate Leaman, members of the Board of Trustees, alumna Doris Burke and even Red Sox President Sam Kennedy.
“Father Sicard has made the perfect choice for the next leader of our athletic department,” Driscoll said. “So much of what we have been able to accomplish during my time at Providence has been due to the hard work and dedication of Steve. He played a big part in helping to craft our student-centered vision for athletics. He has spent so many years in service to the College that he brings an overwhelming amount of knowledge and experience to the position. I look forward to watching him expand on the growth of Friar Athletics. I am confident that he will have a long and productive tenure leading the department.”
“I would like to commend Father Sicard for this outstanding appointment of Steve,” Cooley said. “I am so happy for Steve, his wife, Beth, and his entire family. I have seen a tremendous growth in Steve during my 11 years at the College. His love for Providence College and his ability to foster and build relationships have been a major reason why our athletic department has experienced so much success. I believe that he will continue to grow and provide the leadership and vision to help our student-athletes become great future Friars.”