- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Patrick Nero spent nearly the last six years as the commissioner of the America East. A yearning to find his way back to a school led him to become George Washington’s next athletic director.

Nero was introduced Wednesday in Foggy Bottom as the successor for Jack Kvancz, who is retiring after 17 years.

“I spent most of my career on campus,” Nero said. “It was a tough move to go from campus to the conference office and I think over time it became clear to me I wanted to be on campus and I wanted to be with our student-athletes. To me, it became obvious in the last year or so I wanted to be back on campus.”

Kvancz announced his intention to retire Feb. 17. Nero said he wasn’t involved in the search until 10 days before his hire.

A 1987 graduate of Providence, Nero worked a combined 10 years at Marquette and Miami — schools, like George Washington, located in major metropolitan markets that must compete with professional sports franchises for attention.

His only previous athletic director experience came with a stint of a little more than two years at Maine. He began his stint as the commissioner of the America East — a nine-school league rooted in New England and New York that also includes Maryland-Baltimore County — in August 2005.

He takes over a 22-sport program at George Washington.

“I feel if we can be competitive at the top of the Atlantic 10 in every sport, and that will be our goal, then we can be very competitive regionally and nationally,” Nero said.

While not every facet of leading a conference translates perfectly to running an athletic department, one sport will be particularly significant in Nero’s old and new job: Basketball.

“It is so important because of the simple fact that he will understand the intricacies of what is involved,” men’s basketball coach Karl Hobbs said. “Most importantly, I can have those conversations with him about basketball issues and he’ll have a direct understanding of it.”

Hobbs completed his 10th season last month. The Colonials went 17-14 and tied for fourth in the Atlantic 10 despite losing guard Lasan Kromah in the preseason to injury. Hobbs is 166-129 with NCAA tournament appearances in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Women’s basketball coach Mike Bozeman is 31-57 in three years, including an 8-21 mark last season.

“I think everyone has very high expectations of men’s and women’s basketball here at George Washington, and I will say I share those high expectations,” Nero said. “I need to spend some time and see how we can be better.”

Kvancz, who will serve as an adviser at the university after his retirement, said he was impressed with Nero and is optimistic the department he shepherded would continue to grow.

“I think the sky’s the limit,” Kvancz said. “I think if you have somebody who understands — and I think Patrick does — all the things that are involved in the program and doesn’t let things slip, I think it can be great. I think it can be as good as you want it to be.”

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