Deputy Commissioner of the Big East Conference Vince Nicastro spoke at “Pizza With the Pros” on Monday, Oct. 10 to discuss his time as Villanova’s athletic director and his current role with the Big East.
Nicastro, a graduate of St. Joseph’s University, actively oversees finances, communication, marketing, sales and media administration for the Big East Conference. The conference fields 22 different sports – which means 22 unique championships conducted throughout the conference.
His present duties, as compared to his work as an athletic director, are incredibly different.
“The conference work is you’re a bit removed from the campus. You don’t have the same schedule in terms of events, fundraising, philanthropy, development, that kind of stuff [compared to an athletic director’s],” Nicastro said on his role as Deputy Commissioner. “So you can focus more on big-picture, long-term issues. A lot of our work, aside from running championships, is thinking about how should we position our conference for maximizing television rights.”
A hot topic surrounding the NCAA – in plenty of its sports – has been the changing nature of the transfer portal. It has become increasingly common for athletes to express their desires to transfer by entering their names into the online database while allowing themselves to be recruited by prospective schools. Nicastro offered his thoughts on the contentious subject.
“That has been a bear for our coaches to manage, but I think where we’re getting to now is people are going to have to embrace the transfer environment,” Nicastro said. “You can try and say it’s not fair, you can try and say it’s wreaking havoc on the rosters, but we’re not putting that genie back in the bottle.”
As the athletic director at Villanova, Nicastro played a key role in the hiring of former Wildcats head coach Jay Wright in 2001. During his 21 years with Villanova, Wright won two national championships, six Big East titles and compiled a record of 520-197, making him one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history.
Wright retired last April after Villanova was beaten in the Final Four by the eventual champion Kansas Jayhawks. Life after Wright, Nicastro explained, won’t be the same, but he says that new head coach Kyle Neptune is in a position to succeed.
“I think that Kyle Neptune, who replaced him, who was on the staff at Villanova, had one year at Fordham and did a really good job, would tell you that he can’t replace Jay Wright, it’d be foolish to come in there and think, ‘I’m going to replace Jay Wright.’ Now, he may surpass him, who knows?”
Nicastro pointed out that Villanova saw no outgoing transfers from current players and no de-commitments from incoming players – a rarity during the time of a coaching change.
“Eventually, it’s his [Neptune’s] team and his roster, but the transition was managed just beautifully.”
Multiple members of the audience raised their hands at the question of who had an interest in working in sports administration. Nicastro, who spent 15 years as Villanova’s athletic director, shared some advice for students.
“Try to volunteer, get some experience, internship over the summer – you really need to cut your teeth and do it sooner than later … The other thing is to always say ‘yes’ at this age, later on in your career you’ll learn the value of saying ‘no.’”
Next week, President and General Manager of NBC Sports Philadelphia Brian Monihan will join “Pizza
With the Pros.”
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