Rick Cole Jr. enters his fourth year at Iona College in 2016-17 after being appointed the ninth Director of Athletics in school history in May 2013. In January 2017, he was elevated to Vice President for Athletics Administration. Cole came to New Rochelle after extensive time as an athletics administrator at Dowling College, St. John's University and Stony Brook University.
Cole's first three years with the Maroon & Gold have resulted in success on the field of play, in the classroom and in the community, three pillars of his leadership charge as Director of Athletics.
In his first three years with the Maroon & Gold, Cole has looked to instill his core mission at Iona and do more than just build a great athletic program. The Iona College Athletic department aspires to shape future leaders and build champions in athletics, academics, in the community and in life. In implementing the mission, Cole looks to instill in each of Iona’s student-athletes the understanding that they should serve as role models for other students; exemplifying achievement in their sports, in their studies and service on behalf of their community.
During the 2015-16 campaign, the Gaels earned three MAAC Championships in men’s cross country, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. The Iona cross country program extended its winning streak to 25 years, the longest conference title streak in NCAA Division I in the sport. The men’s basketball program earned its ninth conference tournament championship and appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in history. It was the women’s basketball program’s first-ever MAAC Championship and NCAA appearance. For just the third time in MAAC history, one school won both titles and the league’s automatic bid into the national tournament. Also in 2015-16, Iona broke its own record with 191 student-athletes represented on the MAAC Academic Honor Roll. The award is given to student-athletes achieving a 3.2 grade point average or higher. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee held its second annual “Gaelspys Awards Dinner” to recognize student-athlete achievement.
In the fall of 2014, junior Kate Avery became the first female national champion in Iona athletics history. Avery finished first at the NCAA Cross Country Championship in Terre Haute, Indiana and was a finalist for the Honda Cup, given to the nation's top collegiate female athlete. This feat highlighted the 2014-15 campaign which included MAAC Championships for men's and women's cross country and men's basketball's third regular season championship in the last four seasons. The Gaels set a then school record with 184 student-athletes on the MAAC Academic Honor Roll distinction. Through the work of SAAC and the individual programs, Iona earned a second straight top four finish in the MAAC Goodworks Challenge.
In 2013-2014, Iona finished third in both the MAAC Commissioner’s Cup and Good Works Challenge standings. The Commissioner’s Cup recognizes overall athletic program success in league competition while the Good Works Challenge recognizes community service activities for the 11 full-time institutions in the conference. Iona earned five MAAC Championships in Cole’s first year as Director of Athletics including men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s basketball (regular season) and softball. Academically, the Gaels placed 168 student-athletes on the MAAC Academic Honor Roll. Cole was also responsible for the hiring of women’s basketball head coach Billi Godsey upon arrival at Iona. Under her tutelage, the program has seen unprecedented success including the best three-rear record in school history along with a MAAC regular season and tournament championship.
Cole has helped to transform the student-athlete experience at Iona College with recent facility upgrades during his short tenure at Iona. Two undertakings began immediately upon his arrival in 2013 with a rebranding of the Iona athletics marks and a partnership with Adidas to be the official supplier of athletic equipment for Iona Athletics. The rebranding focused on giving the athletic programs one “Iona” to display on their uniforms and practice gear. The “Iona Gaels” word mark features a silhouette of the Celtic cross that is displayed on the official seal of Iona College.
Two high-definition scoreboards were installed in the summer of 2014 in the Hynes Center arena, transforming game day experience during men's and women's basketball and volleyball home contests. The video boards have also been used during other athletic and college events.
In 2015, the varsity weight room was moved after nearly 30 years from its location in Hynes East to the former core studio in Hynes West. The new space increased the size of the room by more than 50 percent and gives added flexibility for training with the strength and conditioning staff. Additional renovations in the Hynes Center this past summer included transitioning the Judge Lounge in Hynes West into a meeting room to allow additional space for staff and student-athletes to convene and renovations to the bathroom and shower facilities in the men’s varsity locker room.
This past summer, the Hynes Center Pool received a face-lift for the first time in many wears. The space occupying Iona’s old varsity weight room will be renovated to expand Iona’s academic services area.
Under Cole’s direction, the Iona College athletic department has recorded record numbers in revenue generation and fund-raising. In addition to the annually successful Goal Club Hall of Fame Golf Outing, Iona hosted its “Meet the Coaches” event for the first time in Hynes Arena in 2014 to showcase the new video boards. The baseball team hosted its inaugural “First Pitch Dinner” in 2015, attracting future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera to deliver the keynote address of the evening. Revenue from season ticket sales and corporate partnerships has also reached levels that have not been seen previously in his short time in New Rochelle.
For eight years prior to coming to New Rochelle, Cole served as Athletic Director and Vice President for Athletics at Dowling College. During his tenure, he transformed the landscape of collegiate athletics at Dowling College. As part of the department's five-year strategic plan, he secured the necessary funding to add women's soccer, women's lacrosse and men's cross country as NCAA sponsored varsity sports while also elevating twelve coaches to full-time status. In addition, Cole conducted a gender equity review to ensure the department's compliance with Title IX, completed an NCAA institutional self-study, formulated a compliance blue print, expanded the sports medicine department in both staffing and equipment, rebranded the marks and logos, redesigned the department website, secured an exclusive buying contract with an apparel company, established a corporate sponsorship program, and developed a plan for an annual campaign for athletics to raise the funds necessary to meet the unmet costs of the department.
Cole was also instrumental in the planning and development of the Brookhaven field initiative. The $12.5 million complex which opened in the spring of 2008, is the home of the Golden Lions soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and softball programs, and is one of the premier athletic facilities in the northeast. Over 40 years in the making, the dream of playing an athletic contest on a true home field has finally become a reality.
On the field, Dowling's athletic teams flourished under Cole's leadership. In 2006, the men's soccer team took home Dowling's first ever National Championship while reaching the Championship match again in 2008. In addition, men's lacrosse reached the National Championship game, women's volleyball became the first Division II team from the East Region in the history of the NCAA to advance to the national semifinals, baseball advanced to the College World Series in 2009 and women's rowing, women's soccer, men's tennis, golf, and softball have made NCAA postseason tournament runs.
Student-Athletes at Dowling were also transformational in their commitment to community service throughout Cole's tenure as Athletic Director. The SAAC raised over $15,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation; a record for any institution in the history of the division-wide initiative. Cole was also instrumental in the department-wide partnership with Keep Islip Clean; a branch of Keep America Beautiful. In the fall, Dowling organized the largest group clean up (over 250 student-athletes, staff, and coaches) in the history of the program. Throughout his tenure, the student-athletes and staff at Dowling volunteered countless hours to give back to the community through organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Friends of Jaclyn, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Prior to joining Dowling, Cole served as Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs at St. John's University and Stony Brook University's Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs and Advancement. While at St. John's, he managed a corporate relationship with a leading international athletic footwear company for apparel and equipment valued in the millions. During his tenure at Stony Brook, he established a fundraising initiative to fund the school's transition from Division III to Division I competition. At both institutions, Cole oversaw all aspects of external relations including annual giving, athletic communications, corporate partnerships, major gifts, marketing and tickets. His career in college athletics began at his alma mater, the University at Buffalo, as Assistant Director of Marketing.
An accomplished volleyball coach, Cole has coached juniors volleyball for 24 years. Cole enjoys giving back to the sport that has given him so much. He has coached in the AAU Long Island Power Volleyball Club, the University at Buffalo's Men's Volleyball Club Team, the Cheetah Volleyball Club of Western NY and the Long Island Volleyball Academy. Rick also gives back to the local community coaching in the St. John's CYO program and the Bohemia Travel Soccer Club.
Cole’s current industry-wide committee involvement includes the NCAA Volleyball Committee, chair of the MAAC Volleyball Committee while also serving as a member of the MAAC Committee on Athletic Administration. Prior to Iona, Cole was chair of the NCAA Division II Management Council starting in January of 2011. As a member, Cole served on the following committees; National SAAC, Planning and Finance, Long Term Projections Task Force and the NCAA Executive Committee. Cole also served two years as the chair of the NCAA National Lacrosse Committee and served on the ECC Lacrosse Committee.
Cole received his Bachelor's degree in 1992 and Master's in Education in 1994, both from the State University at Buffalo. He currently resides in Oakdale with his wife Brooke and three children Taylor (17), Mackenzie (16), and Trey (14).
|Position:||Vice President for Athletics Administration|