Providence College names Steven Napolillo athletic director

Providence College President Rev. Kenneth R. Sicard  announced today that the College has named Steven Napolillo PC’s senior associate athletic director, as the College’s next vice president and director of athletics. Napolillo, who will begin his new position on July 1, 2022, also will serve as a member of the president’s cabinet. He will succeed Bob Driscoll, who announced his retirement last week after serving the College for 21 years.

“Steve has demonstrated that he possesses the key qualities that drive success,” said Father Sicard. “I have witnessed firsthand Steve’s evolution as a leader over the past 18 years, and I am confident that he will continue to build and expand upon the legacy Bob Driscoll created and nurtured at Providence College during the past two decades.”

Father Sicard added, “Before being elected president in 2020, I was blessed to have served as executive vice president to PC President Father Brian J. Shanley from 2005-2020. I learned a great deal from him, and when I assumed my new role, was able to continue and build upon the legacy he left behind. I recognize the similarity that exists between Bob and Steve’s relationship. Such continuity of leadership allows for a seamless transition that ensures the ongoing success we have enjoyed under Bob’s leadership and encourages new opportunities. I am completely confident that Steve will oversee the PC athletic program with integrity, commitment, and genuine passion for excellence.”

“I am grateful, humbled and excited to be the next Athletic Director at Providence College,” Steve Napolillo said.  “I am thankful to Father Sicard for giving me this incredible opportunity and for the confidence he has shown in me.  In addition to Father Sicard, I would remiss if I did not appreciate my coworkers, coaches, season ticket holders, donors, fans, alumni, friends, and family who have supported me throughout my career.  I look forward to building on an amazing legacy that has been created over the last 21 years under Bob Driscoll. He has been a mentor, friend, and father figure.  Providence Athletics will always be a student-centric department that gives our student-athletes the best experience in the classroom and on the field of play.  Providence College student-athletes graduate with the opportunity to excel in their careers. Providence College is a special place and I look forward to working together with so many talented people to compete for championships and to reach new heights in Friartown.”  

“Father Sicard has made the perfect choice for the next leader of our athletic department,” Providence College Athletic Director Bob Driscoll said. “So much of what we have been able to accomplish during my time at Providence has been due to the hard work and dedication of Steve. He played a big part in helping to craft our student-centered vision for athletics. He has spent so many years in service to the College that he brings an overwhelming amount of knowledge and experience to the position. I look forward to watching him expand on the growth of Friar Athletics. I am confident that he will have a long and productive tenure leading the department.”

“I would like to commend Father Sicard for this outstanding appointment of Steve,” Providence College Men’s Basketball Coach Ed Cooley stated. “I am so happy for Steve, his wife, Beth, and his entire family. I have seen a tremendous growth in Steve during my 11 years at the College. His love for Providence College and his ability to foster and build relationships have been a major reason why our athletic department has experienced so much success. I believe that he will continue to grow and provide the leadership and vision to help our student-athletes become great future Friars.”

“While it is bittersweet to see Bob retire, Steve Napolillo is the right person to lead Providence College Athletics,” Providence College Men’s Hockey Coach Nate Leaman said.  “No one is more passionate about Providence College Athletics than Steve.  His work ethic and vision will enable him to build on Bob’s success and lead us in the future.  Steve has been at PC for a long time, and he has been an integral part of our championship culture.”   

Chris Reilly ’84, PC Board of Trustees chair and co-founder of KarpReilly, LLC, said “I am thrilled that Father Sicard recognizes Steve’s unique qualities and skill sets, which will enable him to build upon a legacy of excellence. Providence College has benefitted greatly from Bob Driscoll’s outstanding leadership over the past 21 years, and from his vision for the future of Providence College athletics. Steve’s experience as an athletic fundraiser will fortify efforts to provide our student athletes with resources, programs, and facilities that complement the holistic development of the ‘student’ in our athletes. I have no doubt that Steve will continue to help us advance our national reputation by further developing our athletic programs.”  

“It is a good day in Friartown,” said trustee Karl Anderson ’88, chair of the College’s Varsity Athletics Committee.  “Promoting Steve is exactly the right thing to do at this point in our history. He has demonstrated the passion and skill to be a successful leader at PC. Bob Driscoll built an unbelievable foundation at PC and Steve will help continue the commitment to excellence that our athletic program represents. We are very excited for our future and for Steve’s ability to lead us there.”

“This is an amazing hire for Providence College,” ESPN NBA Analyst Doris Burke ’87 said, “Steve has so much passion for the College and such a strong commitment to the student-athlete experience. He possesses a work ethic that is second to none. Steve is the ideal candidate to follow Bob Driscoll and continue the amazing job that he has done over the last 21 years. The last several decades have been some of the greatest in the history of the Friar Athletic Department, and Steve has played an integral role in that success.” 

BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman commented, “Steve Napolillo’s appointment as the new Director of Athletics at Providence College is a win across the board:  Steve has an exciting new career opportunity, Providence gets a proven leader who will seamlessly build on Bob Driscoll’s foundation, and the BIG EAST will benefit from the contributions of someone well known and greatly respected by us all. We know Steve will add many successful chapters to PC’s proud history, and we look forward to working with him in his new role.”

“As a trustee working with the athletic department, I’m truly excited to see Steve get the opportunity to build on the already strong culture of Providence athletics” said Boston Celtics Team President and ’86 alum, Rich Gotham. “His understanding of the needs student athletes, strong relationships with our many excellent coaches and athletic staff, as well as his business and fundraising acumen uniquely qualify him for the role.”

“I’ve had the immense privilege of knowing Steve for the past two decades and have witnessed firsthand his uncanny ability to draw you in with his excitement and passion for Providence College athletics,” said Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy. “I am certain he will tackle his new role in the same fastidious manner he has approached each new responsibility throughout his career: with fun, heart, and a deep-seeded drive to constantly get better. From his time in baseball with the PawSox, to bringing Providence College to Fenway Park for outdoor hockey, Steve’s energy, attitude, and electric personality have been a constant. I know he will continue to serve the student athletes and the broader Providence College community with the same dedication he has brought to each of his successive roles.”

Napolillo began his career at PC in 2004 as assistant director of athletic relations, where he rose through the ranks to director of athletic development, then to associate athletic director for external relations, and finally senior associate athletic director/assistant vice president for external relations, a position he has held at the College since 2014. He also has held the position of men’s basketball administrator for the past three seasons.

During his tenure at PC, Napolillo has overseen many facets of athletics. He played an integral role in coach searches resulting in the hiring of Head Men’s Ice Hockey Coach Nate Leaman, Head Men’s Basketball Coach Ed Cooley, Head Women’s Soccer Coach Sam Lopes, and Head Women’s Ice Hockey Coach Matt Kelly.

As a fundraiser, he played a decisive part in securing more than $75 million in gifts while supporting strategic decision making for additional capital projects on campus including the renovation of Schneider Arena and Alumni Hall, Anderson Stadium’s new soccer and lacrosse complex, the Ray Treacy Track and Field Complex and much more. He also worked closely with major gift donors as lead solicitor to secure a $10 million gift for the $30 million renovation of the Ruane Friar Development Center. The Friars Forever Athletic Fund, which was established to support 19 teams, was developed and led by Napolillo. He has overseen the PC Athletic marketing, ticketing, and development office for the last decade during which time sales doubled to reach over $5.3 million dollars in ticket sale revenue.

For the last two years, Napolillo worked with senior staff and college teammates to help navigate PC Athletics through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to joining Providence College Athletics, Napolillo was director of merchandising and corporate sales for the Pawtucket Red Sox. He was a member of longtime Pawtucket Red Sox General Manager, the late Lou Schwechheimer’s, personal advisory board for his mission to bring baseball back to Cuba and AAA baseball to Wichita.

Napolillo credits Schwechheimer as being his first mentor. Commenting on Napolillo’s appointment, Lou’s widow Jane said, “Lou encouraged people to find their passion. Given Steve’s commitment and love of Providence College and sports, Lou would be overjoyed but not surprised that Steve has been given this great opportunity. I have no doubt that Lou is beaming knowing Steve will continue to be an asset and a leader to the Friar community for years to come.”

Napolillo earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1998 from Providence College and is completing a master’s degree program in sports management at Georgetown University. A 1994 graduate of Bishop Hendricken High School, he has been a member of A Wish Come True in Rhode Island for the past twenty years and a board member for the last three. Napolillo and his wife Bethany reside in North Kingstown, RI with their son Drew and daughter Avery.

Founded in 1917, Providence College is the only college or university in the United States administered by the Dominican Friars. The Catholic, liberal arts college has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 4,100 students and offers degrees in 49 academic majors. Since 1997, Providence College consistently has been ranked among the top five regional universities in the North according to U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.” 



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