It was a big week of change in New Jersey as Seton Hall named Iona Athletic Director Pat Lyons as their new Director of Athletics. It continues a young and energetic theme in the Garden State as now Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard, Rutgers head coach Mike Rice, Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti and Pat Lyons are among the youngest coaches and administrators in the Big East. Lyons was named AD of Iona in 2004 at the age of 29 – then the youngest appointed AD in the nation.
Over the past seven years he literally transformed Iona athletics. Nearly every sport improved dramatically under Pat’s watch and fundraising increased well into the millions. But most importantly, when former athletes return to campus, they hardly recognize the facilities. Pat’s aggressive approach will bring much needed structure and life to Seton Hall athletics.
I had a chance to have a quick chat with a very busy Lyons. When you spend time with Pat one thing becomes very evident. This man will be eating and sleeping Seton Hall athletics.
Parise: How did the move come about and how did all of this go down?
Lyons: First off, I can’t stress enough how special of a situation I had at Iona. I was not going to just leave for any job. I would only leave for an institution that shared my vision and passion; and a place that you could truly succeed at. So when the position became open, I was very intrigued, but it’s when I went through the process that I fell in love with the place. From the committee, to the staff, to the students; everyone there just wants Seton Hall to be successful and they want to do it the right way. So the passion of the place truly made it a no brainer.
Parise: Is there anything about Seton Hall that reminds you of your time at Iona?
Lyons: Both schools are rooted in their Catholic identity. I’ve been a product of the Catholic educational system my whole life and I’m proud of Seton Hall’s mission. Institutionally the schools are similar in terms of size and a real sense of a family as well. We’re going to take the philosophies and vision that made us successful at Iona and apply them to Seton Hall and the Big East conference.
Parise: Villanova and St. John’s basketball are showing that you can win in this huge league when you’re not a football school. Your thoughts?
Lyons: There is no question that we will be known by our men’s and women’s basketball programs. It’s my job to position both programs to succeed at this level in every way. The Big East is the greatest conference in the country and I’m estatic to be a part of it. We will represent the conference extremely well and we will make Seton Hall alumni and fans very proud.
Parise: There is an obvious new found buzz in the metropolitan area around college and NBA basketball. What an exciting time to be a part of all this.
Lyons: Absolutely. There is nothing better than being in the New York – New Jersey metropolitan area and having a successful basketball program.
Parise: Your thoughts on your basketball coaches, Kevin Willard and Anne Donovan.
Lyons: Obviously I have a great relationship with the men’s staff from being successful with Kevin at Iona so that goes without saying. But I’m just as excited to be working now with Anne. Her experience as a player and coach are legendary and spending time with her just reinforced how special of a place Seton Hall is and how much potential Seton Hall has to offer. I’m going to have a great relationship with all of my coaches; but it’s a great feeling to know that Kevin and Anne are the two leaders of our flagship sports.
Parise: Thanks for taking the time Pat. It seems as if you’re anxious to get down to Jersey.
Lyons: I am, Vin. Seton Hall is a special place and Pirate fans are going to love what our department stands for and will be extremely proud of our student athletes.