Longtime Athletic Director Retiring; National Search for Successor Begins
After 25 years at Pennsylvania College of Technology, the last 17 as athletic director, Michael J. Stanzione has announced his retirement, effective Jan. 25, 2010.
"Athletics has grown exponentially at Penn College. Our students are incredibly successful, both inside and outside the classroom, and we are grateful to Mike for all he has done for the college," college President Davie Jane Gilmour said.
A national search is under way by the college to find a candidate to fill the position by July 1. That will enable Stanzione's successor an opportunity to work with him and the athletics staff through an entire academic year to learn the ropes.
"We are excited about our search for an extremely qualified administrator to take athletics to the next level, and on a national stage through the United States Collegiate Athletic Association," said Elliott Strickland, special assistant for student affairs and student development.
When Stanzione was named the director of athletics in 1991, he faced a daunting task rebuild the intercollegiate program. Penn College's forerunner, Williamsport Area Community College, had fielded intercollegiate men's basketball and wrestling teams since the late 1960s but both sports were discontinued by the mid-1980s.
"There had been a six-year hiatus. The college had done some initial work and decided to start with golf, tennis and cross country. I hired coaches and began the programs," Stanzione said. Since then, 12 have been added, with more than 220 student-athletes competing this academic year.
Stanzione said the biggest difficulty was getting students to come out for the teams. "There was a lot of canvassing the students, finding out who was there," he said.
Initially, Wildcats teams competed in the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference and Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletic Association. The college became a member of the Commonwealth Campus Athletic Conference in 2004, which became the Penn State University Athletic Conference in 2005. This fall, while it maintains membership in the PSUAC, it also will become a member of the USCAA, and be eligible for national championships in 10 sports.
Over the years, Stanzione, who has worked at the college since 1983 − first as coordinator of secondary programs (1983-91), as director of secondary programs in 1992 and as athletic director from 1991 to present − also has been active in conference administration. He was president of the EPCC from 1995-99 and again from 2003-05. He served as commissioner of the PCAA in 1999-2000 and 2003-05, and presently is in his first of two years as president of the PSUAC.
Within three years of re-establishing the intercollegiate program, Penn College tasted its first conference championship golf, in 1994 − and it hasn't stopped since, winning 68 conference and national team titles in 14 sports. While the college's men's cross-country team owns the most conference crowns with 16, the golf squad presently is among the nation's elite in team competition with five straight undefeated seasons and a 148-0 win streak.
In addition to serving as athletic director and in conference administration positions, Stanzione also found success as coach of the college's baseball team for 13 seasons, during which time his teams posted 261 wins, won five conference titles, and he was named conference coach of the year five times.
All of that success, despite the fact that the college offers no athletic scholarships!
"We have a very unique institution that has programs that attract a lot of students who are good athletes. Examples are construction, health sciences, and hospitality. Those types of programs (at other colleges) usually do not have sports connected with them, and we do. That attracts a lot of really good athletes," Stanzione explained.
"Our philosophy is, education is why you're here, athletics is one of the great opportunities as a co-curricular activity that you can get involved in," he added.
Penn College athletes have found success in the classroom, too, as 588 student-scholar athletes have been named to PSUAC Academic All-Conference teams.
Not only has Stanzione re-established intercollegiate athletics, but under his guidance, the college's intramural program boasts more than 80 programs with nearly 4,000 students participating annually. Men's lacrosse and downhill skiing also recently were added as club sports.
"When you combine good programs with good coaches, good student-athletes and good administration, success is going to be the result," Stanzione said.
Commenting on the timing of his retirement announcement, Stanzione said: "This way, the college can plan for a replacement without having a hiccup or lull. They don't want to lose a beat. They want to find someone, the right one, and this gives them a year and six months. They are being proactive to find the right fit to replace me."
"The athletic program at Penn College is nothing easy to grasp. You have to be able to handle the situation from the college end of things, make sure students are attending class, which is the No. 1 thing, and you also have to bring the college into the new conference and get all of that organized. This way, they can use my expertise. It will shorten the learning curve for the new person," Stanzione added.