Lyons leads development of athletic program
When athletic director Patrick Lyons accepted the position with Seton Hall last February, he told the University community that there would be a new foundation and vision for the athletic department.
One year later, three teams have made their sport’s Big East Championships. The volleyball team made it to the opening round, the women’s soccer team advanced to the second round and the baseball team won the Big East Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. One more team, the men’s basketball team, is in a position to make a run at the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.
“I’m pleased with where (the department) is going so far,” Lyons said. “I think we’re seeing our athletic teams, our coaches and our athletes doing great things for our school, not only on the field but in the community and community service. We have to keep doing that.”
Lyons said he told the University before he was hired that his focus would be on every team, not just men’s and women’s basketball.
“The long term goal is that all of our teams are competing,” Lyons said. “…and that they will go into every season thinking they will compete.”
Lyons made two coaching additions in the last three months. Former Pirate Gerson Echeverry was hired to replace the retiring Manny Schellscheidt as head men’s soccer coach and Allison Yaeger was promoted from assistant coach to head coach of the volleyball team, replacing Kris Zeiter.
“I’ve always said I will always hire people, no matter what in administration or coaches, that are passionate and hungry, and driven, both of those coaches have that,” he said.
Lyons said while he is pleased with the changes made in the past year, he is more excited about the future improvements to the athletic department.
“I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken with Pirate Blue,” Lyons said. “If we are going to compete in the Big East, we’re going to have to generate as much revenue as we possibly can and Pirate Blue this year, we’re on track to break every record of annual fundraising, probably substantially, I’d say we will probably raise 30 percent higher than we have in any other year of Pirate Blue.”
According to Lyons, Associate Athletic Director of Development Bryan Felt has traveled the country putting on events to help raise funds for the department.
The money raised will be used to make Seton Hall a better place for student-athletes, coaches and the University as a whole.
“Going with the first tenant of giving the student athlete the best possible experience,” he said, “I’m hoping that within the next couple of years we will be able to redo the facilities and redo our student support areas, such as the training room, the academic service area, and also in the not too distant future redo the locker rooms for all of our sports.”
Additionally, there are plans to construct a new fitness center for the student body and University community.
“From the student body and the campus community standpoint that will be tremendous for us,” Lyons said. “That’s going to do many things for us. First and foremost it will be a presence on this campus, when you pull in to campus and see this beautiful facility, as well as especially at night, there will be a hub of activity. But from the practical and programming use, it will give our students the space to work out.”
Lyons said he works out in the fitness center every day and he sees that the student body has outgrown the current setup.
“I hate to see students waiting for a treadmill, waiting for an elliptical and so forth,” he said. “We are proposing this, we are hopeful it will happen, that will really give the student body and our campus a great space.”
Tim LeCras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.