Associate Vice President/Athletics Director Robert G. Driscoll, Jr.
Entering his 16th season as Providence College’s Associate Vice President & Athletics Director, Bob Driscoll has transformed and reinvigorated Providence College’s athletics program. Having established a vision of student-athlete success in the classroom and in the community while competing for championships, Driscoll maintains focus on leading, fostering and mentoring one of the nation’s most respected athletic programs.
Over the past four years, Driscoll has been the architect of one of the most successful eras in the history of Providence College athletics. The Friars continued their success during 2016-17, with the men’s basketball team’s fourth-consecutive NCAA appearance. Providence finished in a four-way tie for third in the BIG EAST standings at 10-8 after an impressive six-game winning streak to close out the regular season. The streak included wins over nationally-ranked opponents, Butler and Creighton. Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock earned All-BIG EAST Second Team accolades, while Cartwright also took home honors as the BIG EAST’s Most Improved Player.
Men’s hockey continued its run with its fourth-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and fourth-consecutive 20-plus win season under Head Coach Nate Leaman. The Friars engineered the second-longest winning streak in program history with nine consecutive wins in Hockey East play. The senior class amassed 97 wins over four seasons, tying the best four-year stretch in program history. Junior defenseman Jake Walman earned All-America recognition for the second-consecutive season before signing an entry-level contract with the St. Louis Blues in March. The team finished the season ranked 15th in both national polls, marking the fifth-consecutive season that the program has earned a spot in the final national polls.
Providence became just the fourth Division I school all-time to have both men’s basketball and men’s hockey programs earn NCAA Tournament bids in the same season for four consecutive years.
Men’s soccer returned to the Elite Eight for the second time in three seasons after posting a 15-7-0 record and capturing the BIG EAST regular season crown with a 7-2-0 record in league play. After hosting a NCAA First Round game, a 2-0 win over Delaware at Chapey Field at Anderson Stadium, the Friars shocked the soccer world by erasing a three-goal second half deficit to defeat No. 1 Maryland, 5-4. Providence outlasted Creighton, 2-1, in the Third Round before ultimately falling to North Carolina, 1-0, in double overtime in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Senior Julien Gressel was named a NSCAA First Team All-American and was selected with the eighth overall pick by Atlanta United FC in the MLS SuperDraft.
Men’s lacrosse appeared in the BIG EAST Tournament for the second-straight year and finished third overall in the league standings. The Friars tied a program record with 10 wins and advanced to their first-ever BIG EAST Championship Game after defeating No. 15 Villanova, 10-7, in the semifinals. Tate Boyce earned BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year honors, while Jarrod Neumann was named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year. The duo also earned USILA/Nike Third Team and Second Team All-American honors, respectively. The Providence coaching staff, led by Head Coach Chris Gabrielli, was named BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year.
Women’s cross country captured its third BIG EAST title in the last four years and eighth title in program history, while moving on to secure its fourth NCAA Northeast Regional crown in the last five seasons. The Friars earned its 27th NCAA Cross Country Championships berth, finishing 13th overall at the event. Brianna Ilarda, Sarah Mary Collins, Millie Paladino, Abbey Wheeler, and Katie Lembo earned All-Northeast Region honors after finishing in the top-25 at the NCAA Northeast Regional meet. Ilarda and Paladino also made NCAA appearances during the indoor and outdoor track seasons. Ilarda earned First Team All-America honors in the indoor 5K and outdoor 3K steeplechase, while Paladino was named a First Team All-America in the indoor mile and Honorable Mention honors in the outdoor 1500m.
Men’s cross country finished 24th overall at the NCAA Championships and placed fourth at the NCAA Regionals in 2016. Julian Oakley appeared in the 5000m at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, earning Honorable Mention All-America recognition.
Providence College ranked 79th in the final Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, marking the 13th time that the Friars finished inside the top-100, including three of the last four years. Providence finished third among NCAA Division I non-FBS/FCS institutions and second among BIG EAST Conference members. The Friars picked up a total of 252.00 points. The men’s soccer program picked up the most points for the Friars (73) by virtue of its impressive run to the NCAA Quarterfinals.
This impressive run kicked off when the 2013 women’s cross country team claimed the College’s second NCAA Championship. It continued with the men’s basketball team won the 2014 BIG EAST Tournament title and advanced to the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Tournaments. The men’s hockey team made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances (2014 and 2015) for the first time in program history before claiming its first NCAA Championship with a dramatic, come-from-behind win over Boston University on April 11, 2015 at the TD Garden. It marked the College’s third NCAA team title and its first in a men’s sport.
A year after making it to the NCAA Second Round, the men’s soccer team won the program’s first BIG EAST Tournament title in 2014 and went on a run to the NCAA College Cup semifinal, marking the furthest it has advanced in the NCAA Tournament. Also in 2015, Emily Sisson became just the third Friar all-time to claim multiple NCAA titles in the same academic year, winning the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 5,000-meter championships. She also set the NCAA indoor record in the 5,000 meters en route to capturing the 2015 BIG EAST Championship (15:12.22).
For the second time in his tenure, Driscoll was recognized as the Under Armour I-AAA Athletics Director of the Year at the 51st Annual National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) convention in June 2016. In June 2008, Driscoll also was named the 2007-08 Astro Turf Athletics Director of the Year for the Division I Northeast Region at the 43rd National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Annual Convention.
The Friars also have excelled in the classroom, with Providence’s student-athletes combining for an average GPA of 3.17. After a school-record six Providence College athletic programs received Public Recognition Awards in 2014 as part of the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) program, three Friar teams earned the honor in 2015 and two teams, women’s swimming & diving and women’s tennis, earned recognition awards in 2016. Multiple Friar teams have been honored in each of the 11 years the NCAA has given out the Public Recognition Awards. Epitomizing Driscoll’s drive for success in athletics and in the classroom, the 2013 women’s cross country team won the NCAA Championship, boasted three All-Americans, earned a NCAA Public Recognition Award for a third-consecutive season, was named the USTFCCCA Division I Scholar Team of the Year and senior co-captain Emily Sisson was named the BIG EAST Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Aside from excelling in the classroom and competing for championships, Driscoll’s student-athletes are very active in the local community. Last year alone, Friar student-athletes combined for over 3,500 hours of community service.
Driscoll was instrumental in positioning the College’s athletics program for success as a member of the reconfigured BIG EAST Conference, where the Friars compete against top-flight academic and athletic institutions in a new era of rivalries built on rich athletic traditions. The BIG EAST and its membership have a long-term television contract with FOX Sports and its marquee men’s basketball championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Seven of the league’s 10 members, including Providence College, competed in the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, securing its status as one of the premier basketball conferences in the nation. Additionally, Friars hockey competes in the Hockey East Association, considered by many to be the top hockey conference in the nation.
One of the biggest impacts Driscoll has had on the Providence College Athletics Department, and the College as a whole, has been with facility development, construction and renovation. Since his arrival in 2001, Driscoll has transformed the College’s athletics facilities. Construction was completed in the fall of 2015 to build Chapey Field at Anderson Stadium, where the men’s and women’s soccer and men’s lacrosse programs play, as well as a new softball field and tennis courts. Men’s lacrosse finished with a 6-5 record at Chapey Field at Anderson Stadium in 2017, which also played host to the BIG EAST Lacrosse Tournament and the USILA North-South All-Star Game. Men’s soccer also played host to a BIG EAST Semifinal and a NCAA First Round game at Chapey Field at Anderson Stadium last season. Women’s soccer finished 7-3-0 in their inaugural season at Anderson Stadium in 2016.
In December 2015, the College announced a historic gift to begin Phase I construction of the Ruane Friar Development Center, which will include a men’s basketball training and recruiting facility in addition to the College’s academic services space. Groundbreaking for the Ruane Friar Development Center took place on Oct. 1, 2016 in a ceremony held outside Alumni Hall. Phase I construction is expected to be completed by fall 2018.
In September of 2013, a state-of-the art renovation and 30,000-square foot addition project to Schneider Arena was completed. The project included new locker rooms, new coaches’ offices, a renovated press box, a state-of-the-art video board and sound system, luxury boxes, as well as a new hockey and lacrosse strength and conditioning room. The Ray Treacy Track was built over the summer of 2013 to give the men’s and women’s cross country and track programs an improved place to train and race, as well as serving the whole Providence College community. Taylor Natatorium also underwent extensive renovations in 2013.
Other facility upgrades that have highlighted Driscoll’s tenure include an $80-million renovation of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, which serves as the home venue for Friars men’s basketball. The project was the result of Driscoll working strategically with lead officials in the City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island. The renovations enhanced the game-day experience by adding 20 luxury boxes, new seats, a video scoreboard, sound system, updated restaurant and concession stands, team store, locker rooms and new weight training/fitness areas. These renovations have enabled Providence College to serve as host for the First and Second Rounds of the 2010, 2016, and the future 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. In September of 2012, renovations of Alumni Hall were completed. Alumni Hall, which is the practice facility for men’s basketball and the home of the Friar women’s basketball and volleyball teams, is now a state-of-the-art facility.
Kicking off Driscoll’s vision for the improved athletic facilities footprint at Providence College, the Concannon Fitness Center, opened in August of 2007, adjacent to Lennon Family Field (Astroturf facility), which was completed in August 2005. A new Astroturf surface was installed on Lennon Family Field in the summer of 2017. The Fitness Center houses the Friars’ Jimmy Walker Strength and Conditioning Center for varsity student-athletes, as well as administrative and coaching offices, conference rooms and locker rooms. Additionally, the Concannon Fitness Center serves the whole Providence College community and houses the recreation sports staff, furthering the bond between the campus community and Friar Athletics. Next, the Canavan Sports Medicine Center was completed in August of 2008.
Driscoll established the athletic fundraising philosophy and department that has been instrumental in making program upgrades possible. He and his staff have exceeded fundraising goals on a yearly basis, including a record $6.6-million in cash donations during the 2016-17 fiscal calendar. The additional revenue remains critical to building and supporting championship programs and providing the best opportunities to Providence College’s student-athletes. The funds Driscoll and his staff raise help directly support all 19 of Providence College’s Division I programs, the Friars Forever Fund and capital projects.
In the past, Driscoll has served as the President of the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association. He also has served as First Vice President and Second Vice President for the organization. Additionally, Driscoll represents the BIG EAST’s athletic directors on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, serves as a mentor for the Division I-AAA mentoring program and serves on the Hockey East Television Negotiations and Marketing Committees. He previously served on the NCAA Division I Management Council, the NCAA Ice Hockey Championship Committee (Chair 2010-11) and was the Chair of the BIG EAST Athletic Directors in 2011-12. Driscoll also was an NCAA Fellows Programs Executive Mentor. Currently, Driscoll serves on the BIG EAST Finance Committee with the league’s other presidents and also is a Chair for the Hockey East Board of Directors.
Driscoll joined the Providence community after 14½ years in athletic administration at the University of California, Berkeley, culminating in serving as the Acting Executive Director for Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports. Prior to that, he was Cal’s Executive Associate Athletic Director and was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the department, as well as overseeing football, men’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s water polo, rugby, strength training, equipment and the sports medicine programs.
Driscoll was hired at Cal as the Associate Athletic Director for Student Services, a position he held for five years. He then assumed the position of Executive Associate Athletic Director, at which point he was responsible for the administration of 27 varsity sports, a staff of 250 and a $36 million budget. Prior to coming to Providence, he served as the Acting Executive Director for Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports. During his tenure, Cal won over 20 national championships and competed in the Citrus, Copper, Alamo and Aloha Bowls. The Bears also finished as high as 12th in the NACDA Directors’ Cup.
Before arriving at Cal, Driscoll served six years (1981-87) as the Athletic Director and Chair of the Department of Physical Education, Recreation and Intramural Sports at Mills College in Oakland, Calif. Prior to Mills, Driscoll was Assistant Athletic Director and Head Baseball and Hockey Coach at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. from 1977-81. Driscoll played hockey and baseball at Ithaca College (N.Y.), where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education in 1974. He earned his Master of Science in Physical Education/Psychology of Sports from Ithaca in 1975.
A native of West Concord, Mass., Driscoll was inducted into the inaugural class of Concord-Carlisle High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame (football, ice hockey and baseball) in 1993. He and his wife Cathy have three grown children.
ATHLETIC DIRECTORS AT PROVIDENCE COLLEGE THROUGH THE YEARS
Frederick J. Baeszler, O.P. - December, 1925 - December, 1933
Edward H. Schmidt, O.P. - February, 1934 - December, 1937
Robert G. Quinn, O.P. - December, 1937 - January, 1940
Vincent C. Dore, O.P. - January, 1940 - September, 1941
Aloysius B. Begley, O.P. - September, 1941 - June, 1971
David R. Gavitt - June, 1971 - July, 1982
Louis A. Lamoriello - July, 1982 - April, 1987
John M. Marinatto - August, 1987 - July, 2001
Robert G. Driscoll, Jr. - November, 2001 - Present
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