A Conversation with Rick Cole Jr.
Rick Cole Jr., former vice president of athletics administration at Iona College, was named director of athletics at Hofstra University on March 28, 2018, and began his duties on May 21. Cole has wide-ranging experiences in athletics administration, expertise in fundraising and marketing, and a fierce dedication to the success of student-athletes.
Prior to Iona, Cole served as vice president of athletics and athletic director at Dowling College, senior associate athletic director for external affairs at St. John’s University, and associate athletic director for external affairs and advancement at Stony Brook University.
Cole earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in higher education from the University at Buffalo, where he played volleyball. He and his wife, Brooke, a former women’s basketball player at Buffalo and a former assistant basketball coach for the Pride, have three children – Taylor, Mackenzie, and Trey.
What attracted you to Hofstra University and the director of athletics position?
Hofstra’s history matched with the future potential of Hofstra, along with the institutional brand and its greatness in the region. It really is a perfect fit for me and my family. The leadership of the University is committed to winning in academics and athletics. They are also committed to a program that has integrity and student-athlete welfare as the priorities.
Who are some of your mentors, and why?
I have had the opportunity to learn from a lot of great people. I will start with Professor [William] Greiner, who was president at the University at Buffalo, because of his ability as a strong leader and an incredibly hard worker. He had a great broad-based vision for the institution yet was still able to reach people on an individual level. [Senior Associate Director of Athletics] Tom Koller was my first boss at Buffalo, and he taught me that you can work incredibly hard and be a great professional, but you need to find balance with your family and make them a priority. Dr. Richard Laskowski at Stony Brook University, Dr. Joseph E. Nyre of Iona, and Gloria Henn have been instrumental in my personal and professional development. I have also been lucky to have some great peer mentors such as my teammates at Buffalo. We had the benefit of learning from each other, both personally and professionally.
RICK COLE JR. STAT SHEET
Favorite professional sports team: New York Yankees
Favorite beach on Long Island: Rogers Beach (Westhampton)
Favorite class in college: Financing Higher Education
Favorite restaurant: Mannino’s (Oakdale, NY)
Last book I read: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … And Maybe the World by Admiral William H. McRaven (U.S. Navy, ret.)
Favorite pizza topping: Vegetable
Favorite Band/Musician: Anything country
How have your past experiences prepared you for this job?
I think higher education continues to be a challenging and ever-changing environment. Having the diversity of working at institutions that were similar but in some respects different from Hofstra will provide me with the experience to meet the goals of our program. I believe my experiences have helped me have the courage and expertise to elevate a program during an ever-changing culture in higher education and intercollegiate athletics. I have been fortunate to experience some incredible successes and some incredible challenges along my professional journey. I think that each phase of my career has helped prepare me for where I am today, and for the challenges and opportunities that we collectively will face.
What goals do you have for the Hofstra Athletics program?
I think the goals are to evaluate where we are and to develop the road map of how we move forward as an institution and an intercollegiate athletics program. I want to build on Hofstra’s history of producing incredible student-athletes who are successful and more than just the sport they play. I also believe we can have regional and national success that will strengthen and raise the profile of the University. I don’t think these goals are accomplished in a vacuum or by the work of one person. I think success will happen because there is a clear vision that our staff, student-athletes, University leadership, alumni, fans, and supporters will get behind and work tirelessly to achieve. We will build a dynamic culture that is collective in its responsibility to our student-athletes’ success. Our goal will be to hold ourselves to the highest of expectations in academics and athletics.
What are your feelings on the partnership between athletics and academics at Hofstra?
I feel that the primary objective of our student-athletes is to come to Hofstra for their overall growth – personally, academically, and athletically. Student-athlete success should drive our decision-making process. Our success measures are not just reflected on the scoreboard, they are also gauged by students’ success in preparation for life after Hofstra, the contributions they make to Hofstra and to their teammates while they are here, and the contributions they make following graduation. We will work with our faculty and staff to provide the vehicles for support as our student-athletes prioritize academic success.
What are your thoughts on the Long Island community and how important they are for the Hofstra community?
I think Long Island and Hofstra are incredibly important to each other. We are one of two Division I programs on Long Island, and I think we have to engage our community, not just through service to the community or to have the community’s support, but to have a true partnership. The relationship needs to be strong and symbiotic.
Is there anything else that you would like to say to the Hofstra community?
We want to be an athletics program that truly makes a difference for our institution, for our community, and most of all, for our student-athletes. We have an incredible history at Hofstra and invite everyone to be part of our future success. We strive to be a model program that puts student-athlete success at the forefront of everything we do. We want our alumni and fans to be proud of the Pride. We welcome your support and guidance, and look forward to seeing you at as many athletic events as possible. We will not succeed without the help of many. Please join us in supporting our student athletes – an incredible group of men and women that work tirelessly to represent us every day!