New athletic director strives for unity among athletes
Unity, success, communication and community. These are some of the principles that Hofstra University’s new athletic director, Rick Cole Jr. wants to embed into the university and its athletic department.
Cole, who took office in May, has spent his first few months on the job trying to define the direction for the university’s athletic programs. His most pressing priorities have been uniting the department, helping student-athletes succeed academically and athletically and connecting Hofstra’s athletic programs with the university community.
While Cole cares about where the Hofstra Pride are in the standings, he doesn’t use win-loss records to determine whether the athletic programs are having success.
“In college athletics, most people just evaluate success by the scoreboard. I don’t necessarily do that,” Cole said. “I think you have to look at success in multiple measures, looking at the overall matrix of successful athletic programs.”
One of the most important measures is the well-being of the student athletes, both on and off the field.
“We are committed to the success of our student athletes as a priority, and everybody’s on board with that,” Cole said.
Hofstra men’s soccer head coach Richard Nuttall, who has been at the helm of the program for 30 years and has worked with five athletic directors during his time at Hofstra, echoed Cole’s sentiments about putting the student athletes first.
“[Cole] talks about looking after the student athletes, which we all believe in,” Nuttall said.
Cole has also been trying to make the athletics department more unified. All the coaches have been meeting with each other and with Cole on a regular basis. Hofstra women’s basketball head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey said collaboration within the athletics department is key.
“We have to work as a unit,” Kilburn-Steveskey said. “[Cole] definitely does a great job of uniting everybody.”
Kilburn-Steveskey added that when she was a coach at James Madison University, she regularly met with other coaches, but she has not done that during her 13 years at Hofstra until Cole came into office.
Cindy Lewis, the senior associate director of Athletics who has worked in the Hofstra Athletics administration for 36 years, agreed with coach Kilburn-Steveskey and says that Cole is succeeding in connecting different aspects of the athletics department.
“[Cole] wants to create a family in which we support each other,” Lewis said.
Along with uniting the athletic department internally, Cole is also focused on connecting the athletic programs with the entire university.
Cole hopes to “strengthen the concept that we are the institution’s and the university’s athletic program.”
Connecting athletics with the university is more than having students show up to games. Cole wants student athletes, coaches and administrators to volunteer and give back to the community.
“We all have a responsibility to make the community ... which we are a part of, better by serving it,” Cole said.
Cole believes everyone who is part of the Hofstra community can contribute to the university’s athletic programs for the program to maximize its potential.
“It’s everyone’s program,” Cole said. “Let’s make it a great one.”
Photo courtesy of Hofstra Athletics