Providence College athletic director Bob Driscoll to retire

·4 min read
Providence College Athletics director Bob Driscoll, shown in 2008, is stepping down after more than 20 years.
Providence College Athletics director Bob Driscoll, shown in 2008, is stepping down after more than 20 years.

PROVIDENCE — Providence athletic director Bob Driscoll has announced his retirement.

The school issued a statement on Friday morning confirming Driscoll will step down from his post in June. His tenure leading the department stretches to his January 2002 hiring.

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News of Driscoll’s decision leaked during an 83-75 men’s basketball victory by the 21st-ranked Friars over Georgetown on Thursday night. Driscoll was in his usual seat at the Dunkin' Donuts Center between the school’s radio broadcast team and the home bench.

"I feel so fortunate that I have been able to spend the last 21 years as a member of the Providence College family," Driscoll said in a statement. "I came to Providence with a goal of a student-centered vision for athletics. I feel like I have played a part in creating a model program in college athletics with the student-athlete experience at the center of our vision."

Transformed PC athletic facilities

Driscoll was hired away from the University of California and has spent two decades transforming both Providence’s operations and campus physical footprint. The Friars captured their first men’s national title in any sport when they claimed the NCAA ice hockey crown in 2015. They also took home a women’s cross country championship in 2013, their second under longtime coach Ray Treacy.

Driscoll’s last six months in Berkeley were spent overseeing capital projects. He put that experience to use alongside Providence officials to considerably upgrade the school’s buildings and grounds. The construction of a $35-million basketball-specific practice facility, a detailed renovation of Schneider Arena, the addition of a soccer stadium and a relocated softball field are among the campus highlights.

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Driscoll built a fundraising and development juggernaut during his time at Providence. Steve Napolillo was among Driscoll’s first hires with the school in 2003, and his ascension to head of the Friar Athletic Fund has been critical during a transition to a reconfigured Big East. The Friars bring in more than $7 million annually in cash donations and are on level footing with their conference rivals, able to pay commensurate coaching salaries and travel by private air charter in their marquee sports.

Men's basketball coach Ed Cooley, a Bob Driscoll hire, has the Friars on track for another NCAA Tournament appearance.
Men's basketball coach Ed Cooley, a Bob Driscoll hire, has the Friars on track for another NCAA Tournament appearance.

Driscoll was given the necessary time by the school’s administration to execute his vision. His first two hires in his major men’s programs — Tim Army in ice hockey and Keno Davis in basketball — were failures. Pivots to Nate Leaman and Ed Cooley, respectively, were masterstrokes. Leaman has reached two Frozen Fours while Cooley has Providence on track for a sixth NCAA Tournament appearance during his tenure.

"Bob has brought some of the best men's and women's coaches in the country to our campus, and has instilled in them his ideals and vision for our athletics program," Providence president Rev. Kenneth R Sicard said in a statement. "He has been a valued member of my cabinet and is a trusted colleague to many of us in the Friar family."

Driscoll’s hire of Cooley away from Fairfield was a groundbreaking one, the first Black coach to lead the Friars in men's basketball since their 1921 founding. His contributions to the school’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have been considerable. Driscoll was named to the conference’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group in 2019.

Athletic Director Bob Driscoll, left, introduces Nate Leaman as the Friars men's hockey coach in 2011. Also pictured is then-PC President Rev. Brian Shanley. Driscoll is retiring after 20 years in Providence.
Athletic Director Bob Driscoll, left, introduces Nate Leaman as the Friars men's hockey coach in 2011. Also pictured is then-PC President Rev. Brian Shanley. Driscoll is retiring after 20 years in Providence.

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Driscoll is a Massachusetts native and Ithaca College graduate, serving as a three-time men’s ice hockey captain with the Bombers. He spent four years as the associate director of athletics at nearby Union College, from 1977-81, and moved to the West Coast as the athletic director at Mills College, from 1981-87.

Accepting that job with the Cyclones brought Driscoll to the Oakland area. He made the short move to the Golden Bears 35 years ago and has remained a fixture in major college athletics ever since.

This now makes two prominent administrative changes at the university level in the last three years. Sicard was named to his position in October 2019 and began his official tenure in July 2020. He replaced Rev. Brian J. Shanley, a noted backer of the school’s athletics program who now holds the same position at St. John’s.

bkoch@providencejournal.com

On Twitter: @BillKoch25

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Providence College athletic director Bob Driscoll to retire

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