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Athletics begins year with new leadership


Emerson Athletics Director Patricia Nicol at the Brown & Plofker Gym in Piano Row. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)

It’s shaping up to be an exciting year for the Emerson College Athletics Department, which is being rejuvenated with new leadership as the fall season begins.

The department’s new director, Patricia Nicol, arrived in May after serving as athletics director at Southern Connecticut State University for 10 years.

“I chose Emerson because it’s a very unique opportunity,” Nicol said. “It’s an institution that expects and celebrates excellence in all that it does.”

Nicol, who has worked at Division I and II institutions, said she’s excited to be at a Division III college like Emerson—which joined the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) last year—because “there is balance.”

“The athletic experience should be one component of the holistic undergraduate experience,” she said. “Division III provides that opportunity. If there’s a student who wants to try out for a team, coaches will provide the ability to do that. You could be a diamond in the rough. I’ve seen it many times.”

Since joining Emerson, Nicol has met with numerous College community members to talk about the needs of Athletics.

“Most of my summer has been meeting with coaches, staff, various departments on campus, and trying to extend myself to as many people as I can,” Nicol said. “It’s important for me to establish relationships with my colleagues to gain insight into the College and determine our immediate needs.”

Nicol has done some restructuring of the department “to really capitalize on the strengths of the staff.”

Nance, StanStanford Nance, senior associate director, will work more closely with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations to build relationships with alumni and assist with fundraising.

“He’s a great people person,” Nicol said. “Stan engages our alumni and external constituents in such an effective manner, and he’s very excited to be delving more into that role.”

Erin Brennen has been elevated to senior associate director, overseeing internal operations of the department to free up coaches from some of those duties, Nicol said.Brennen

Athletics is also looking at revamping its Lions logo—a process that started before Nicol’s arrival at Emerson. The Office of Student Life is helping Athletics get input on a new logo design from students, faculty, and staff, with a decision possible near the end of the fall 2014 semester.

“My vision is to maximize our potential, concentrate on our positives, and weave the Athletics Department into the fabric of the College,” she said. “In doing so, we can contribute to Emerson’s goal of inclusive excellence.”

Facts about Pat Nicol:

  • In 2010, she was nominated for the Division II Athletics Director of the Year Award
  • During her tenure at Southern Connecticut State, the women’s basketball team won a national title in 2007 and 11 NCAA Division II championships.
  • More than 2,000 student athletes made the Northeast-10 Conference Honor Roll under Nicol’s leadership.
  • Nicol was a five-time NCAA qualifier while competing in cross-country and track and field as a student athlete at the University of Rhode Island (URI) in the 1980s.
  • Nicol was inducted into the URI Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990s.
  • In 2013, Nicol received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from URI.
  • Nicol has two children, Christine and Michael.
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