I was able to attend this morning's press conference where Seton Hall's newest family member, Pat Lyons, was introduced as the new Director of Athletics.
Because I am like most forgetful college students, I forgot my recorder and ripped my favorite pair of jeans en route to the press conference. A little frazzled, I did try to jot down some notes and quotes, but mainly I will try to describe the atmosphere of the presser after the jump.
Pat Hobbs, President Esteban, Pat Lyons, and Hank D'Alessandro (chairman for the Seton Hall Board of Regents athletics subcommittee) crept from behind the curtain and took their seats on stage in front of the anxiously waiting crowd.
As I looked around, I noticed a good mix of people: the usual throng of beat writers and news anchors, three or so rows of Seton Hall staff members, scattered numbers of coaches and assistants (including Kevin Willard), and of course a few photographers. Huddled along the back row of Walsh Gymnasium stood the men's soccer team in its entirety, along with a few random athletes (including our good friend, Herb Pope ), and the most surprising group of all, Pat Lyons' dedicated former staff members and friends from Iona.
Pat Hobbs looked around the gym with his wide smile, as usual, and began to introduce Pat Lyons. He used strong language to describe Lyons, such as "the complete package" and "a man with experience and energy", as he referred to the excellent job he has done at Iona, handling 20+ Division-I sports.
"Energy is what we needed most," Hobbs said, with a smile and a glance towards Lyons on his left. "And that's what we are getting. We haven't had the success we wanted here at Seton Hall, and now we have the leadership to attain that success."
After about six or seven minutes, Hobbs introduced Seton Hall University President, Gabriel Esteban, who received a warm ovation from all in attendance. Hobbs stepped away and let Esteban take control of the microphone. Esteban uttered many of the same beliefs mentioned by Hobbs, and said he believes that he is the perfect man for the job. He also noted how impressive it was that Pat Lyons shares not only a vision for Seton Hall athletics, but believes in the faith based curriculum employed by the University.
Finally, it was time for Pat Lyons to speak. As the journalists readied their pens and the athletes leaned forward in anticipation, Lyons stood up to the mic with a sincere smile (not nearly as wide as Hobbs', but that isn't for lack of trying).
Lyons began by thanking all in attendance, including Seton Hall's staff for giving him what he believes to be "a real challenge" and praised his former colleagues at Iona for all of their hard work and dedication. As he looked around the room, he spoke with confidence and vigor. It wasn't difficult to see why the search committee liked him: he is quite passionate, but also casual. He also acknowledged his wife Rachel, who blushed as he pointed to her in the front row.
"I expect excellence every single day," Lyons said without waver, "and I know we can do that here. We won't be reinventing the wheel, but we do have certain goals."
Lyons outlined four main goals he plans to accomplish in his time at Seton Hall:
- Pride - A Seton Hall community not solely based on athletics, but a community that is willing to prepare themselves to become the servant leaders of tomorrow. According to Esteban, Lyons instilled programs which made athletes perform community service regularly and he hopes to see that implementation at Seton Hall as well.
- Academics - Lyons prefaced his statements by saying "we know that Seton Hall already has a wonderful academic record" but added that it would not hurt by any means to make it better. His vision is to help the community grow inside the classrooms.
- Competitiveness - His attitude was simple: just because we are in the Big East, it doesn't give us a right to fail. Lyons made it clear that no matter if we win or lose, we want to be an athletic program that competes day in and day out. Being a program in the Big East is wonderful, but only if progress occurs.
- Fiscal Integrity - Lyons' most important point, perhaps to most, was his idea for a fiscally smart program, one that is able to allocate funds in the proper way and even more importantly, generate revenue. In fact, he didn't just say it, he drilled it into the crowd: "Revenue generation, it's so important. We need to generate revenue in every way possible."
"Once again, this is a great challenge for me, and more importantly this is the perfect fit," Lyons said as he concluded his speech.
All in all, it was a great day for the program. Lyons seems like the real deal, and while we may not have the funds to hire a more prominent Director of Athletics, I think a low key, good fit was the way to go and Lyons certainly seems like the real deal.