Patrick Nero, the America East Conference commissioner, has been hired as George Washington’s athletic director. Nero will be introduced at a news conference Wednesday morning at Smith Center.
Nero, 45, replaces Jack Kvancz, who announced his retirement in February.
“I’m very glad that Patrick has risen to the top of what really was a very strong pool of candidates,” GW President Steven Knapp said. “I was impressed by his commitment to the academic success of our student-athletes, which I think is really critically important. I was impressed by his experience as both an athletic director and as a commissioner of a conference. . . . I’d say he has a very strong strategic grasp of the role of athletics in the university as a whole, which I also think is really important to what we’re trying to accomplish, as we have these aspirations to become a more and more excellent program.”
Nero has served as the America East commissioner since 2005, overseeing nine universities participating in 20 sports. While at the America East, he has served on the NCAA Division I leadership council, the NCAA management council and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association board of directors. He is a past chair of the Division I commissioners association and the NCAA committee on women’s athletics.
“I think George Washington is a tremendous university, one of the leaders in higher education in our country,” Nero said. “For me, that’s what makes this so attractive: To be able to run an athletic program that is reflective of the overall general university mission that provides student-athletes with the opportunities to achieve and succeed at the highest level.”
Before becoming a conference commissioner, Nero was athletic director at the University of Maine. During his two years at the school, seven teams qualified for postseason play — including the men’s hockey team, which was the NCAA championship runner-up — and 11 reached their conference championship games.
Nero was the senior associate athletic director at the University of Miami (Fla.) from 1996 to 2003. He oversaw the external operations of the athletic department and was known for his strong fundraising skills, which included directing a $100 million capital campaign. He also has worked in the athletic departments at Marquette, Lamar and Providence College, his alma mater. Unlike the man he replaces, Nero has been neither a coach nor a varsity athlete.
Nero’s hiring comes at a time when GW is undertaking an extensive review of its athletic, recreation and wellness programs. New York Yankees President Randy Levine, a GW alumnus and board of trustees member, is overseeing the committee undertaking the review. The committee hopes to make its report in June.
“My role [in the review] will be to participate in the process but also use the process as a way of educating myself on what exactly the university wants out of both intercollegiate athletics as well as recreation,” Nero said. “It really provides a road map for the future for me.
“What we’ve all talked about is really bench-marking ourselves right now within the Atlantic 10 [Conference] and seeing where we are having success and where we need to have more success, where we are funding programs, what type of tools and resources our programs are getting. I think the general feeling is we’re in the Atlantic 10 to be successful in the Atlantic 10, and if we’re successful in the Atlantic 10 in many of our sports, that means we’re being successful regionally and nationally.”
Because Nero has yet to negotiate his departure from the America East Conference, his start date at GW remains in flux. However, he indicated he hopes to begin working full-time at GW no later than the middle of June. Kvancz’s retirement date is June 30.