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Vince Nicastro enters his 15th year as the Villanova University Director of Athletics in 2014-15.
As the Director of Athletics, Nicastro is responsible for leading a Villanova Athletics Department that is committed to excellence both in competition and in the classroom. The broad-based Wildcat athletics program is comprised of 24 men's and women's varsity sports and over 500 student-athletes. In addition, club sports and an extensive intramurals and recreation program fall under the auspices of the Athletic Department. Villanova is a member of the Big East Conference and the Colonial Athletic Association Football Conference.
In his 14 seasons at the helm, Nicastro has overseen significant success in the key areas of intercollegiate athletics. Villanova has won 22 conference championships during his tenure, including seven Big East titles in the past year alone. At the national level the Wildcats have won national championships in women's cross country (2009, 2010) and football (2009) while also crowning 10 individual national champions. The past six years in particular have been a period of great achievement, highlighted by the successes of the 2013-14 campaign.
Villanova won seven Big East championships during the past academic year, including a first-ever "triple crown" for the men's cross country and track & field program. After winning the conference cross country title in the fall the Wildcats went on to win both the indoor and outdoor track & field championships in dominant fashion. The women's track & field team also won Big East titles both indoors and outdoors. The women's swimming & diving squad captured their first conference title in 18 years and the men's basketball team was crowned regular season Big East champions. The men's and women's basketball teams each advanced to national postseason play, while the men's and women's cross country teams also qualified for the NCAA Championships. The men's and women's indoor and outdoor track & field teams combined to produce eight first team All-Americans and Emily Lipari was the indoor national champion in the Mile. Head coaches Marcus O'Sullivan (men's cross country/track & field), Gina Procaccio (women's cross country/track & field), Rick Simpson (women's swimming & diving) and Jay Wright (men's basketball) were all named BIG EAST Coach of the Year for their respective sports during the 2013-14 academic year. In the NACDA Directors' Cup, a program which recognizes a school's across-the-board success in athletics, Villanova finished 2013-14 ranked No. 68 overall and second among BIG EAST teams.
The No. 68 ranking in the Directors' Cup standings marks the fifth time in the last six years that Villanova has achieved a top-75 overall finish. That success has been fueled by a number of Wildcat teams which have consistently reached national postseason play. The men's basketball team has reached the NCAA Tournament in nine of the past 10 years (2005-14) and played in the 2009 Final Four. The women's basketball team has tallied 20 or more wins eight times since 2000 en route to earning a postseason bid in 12 of the last 15 years, including a visit to the Elite Eight in 2003. The football team has made five appearances in the NCAA playoffs since 2002, including semifinal appearances in 2002 and 2010 and winning the 2009 national championship. The women's soccer team participated in six NCAA Tournaments from 2001-09 and the men's cross country team has currently qualified for the NCAA Championships for a program-record seven straight years. The women's cross country team has reached the NCAA Championships in each of the last six years and won consecutive national titles in 2009 and 2010. The men's and women's track & field teams have also continued their unparalleled success at the prestigious Penn Relays, with 12 Championship of America titles since 2000 and seven just in the last three years. The men's lacrosse team has also maintained a national profile in recent years. The program earned a share of the regular season Big East title in 2013 and also played in the NCAA Tournament in both 2009 and 2011.
A championship environment that allows Villanova student-athletes to excel has also afforded the Athletic Department the opportunity to host a number of high-profile events at the conference and national levels. In a span of six months Villanova hosted both the 2013 NCAA Women's Lacrosse Division I Championship as well as the 2013 NCAA Men's Soccer College Cup. During the 2013-14 academic year the Wildcats also hosted Big East Championships in men's soccer, swimming & diving, outdoor track & field and men's lacrosse.
Achievement in the classroom has also remained a priority under Nicastro's leadership. During the 2013-14 academic year, Villanova student-athletes posted a 3.174 grade point average - making 22 consecutive semesters with a composite GPA above 3.0, while achieving exemplary graduation rates. Also in 2013-14, nine Wildcat teams received NCAA Public Recognition Awards for ranking in the top 10 percent in the nation within their sport for multiyear APR scores. In addition, Villanova saw all 24 of its varsity sports post an APR score at or above the national average for their sport. Wildcat scholars continue to distinguish themselves at the highest levels and during the past year Jessica Wamala from women's basketball and Samuel Ellison from men's track & field received national academic scholarships. Wamala became the third student-athlete in Villanova history to be named a Rhodes Scholar and Ellison joined an elite group when he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.
In his tenure as Director, Nicastro has been instrumental in the growth of the Villanova Athletic Fund program, which once again achieved an unprecedented level of participation in 2013-14. The fund has now grown to include more than 3,300 members and raised $2.9 million during the past year, bringing the total amount of contributions to more than $22.5 million since the fund started. Nicastro has also played an integral role in securing numerous major gifts for endowments and facility upgrades to benefit Villanova Athletics.
The most striking capital undertaking is the Davis Center for Athletics & Fitness that serves as a state-of-the-art practice facility for use by the men's and women's basketball programs and greatly improves the recreational and fitness offerings for the campus community. The $18.7 million facility, which opened in November of 2007, represents the largest capital project in University history to be funded entirely through donor support. The most recent facility upgrade is also a significant one, as a $3 million renovation to the soccer complex on West Campus will be completed in August, 2014. Other facility upgrades under Nicastro's watch include the Varsity Weight Room renovation during the summer of 2013; the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth Meeting; a new softball complex; the Villanova Stadium Turf Replacement; the installation of a new track in Villanova Stadium, new track & field throwing sectors and numerous team locker room enhancements.
Those beyond the Villanova zip code have taken notice. U.S. News and World Report listed Villanova as one of the Top 20 athletic programs in the nation in 2003. In 2004, Villanova was recognized as the top program in the Big East Conference in a study conducted by the Laboratory for the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics at Texas A&M. In its first presentation of the Excellence in Athletics Cup, Villanova was cited for success in areas including NCAA postseason success, graduation rates, gender equity position and operating efficiency.
Nicastro joined the Villanova Athletics Department in 1994 when he was hired as the school's Director of Ticket Operations. He was promoted to Assistant Athletics Director in 1997, and then elevated to the position of Associate Athletics Director soon thereafter. As an Associate Athletics Director, he was responsible for overseeing the department's administrative functions, including business operations, personnel and staffing and the sports medicine and strength/conditioning programs.
On his path to the Director's office, Nicastro served as the designated sport administrator for many of Villanova's men's and women's varsity programs, working closely to plan and develop all aspects of their sport's programs. Nicastro also coordinated Villanova's summer camp programs and the department's information technology issues.
Nicastro has also been active both inside and outside the University, serving on many key committees. He is a member of the Villanova University President's Cabinet and the University's Administrative Budget Committee, which plays a key role in crafting the University's operating budget and making recommendations for strategic investments. Nicastro is also a current member of the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance. He has served as the chair of the Big East Conference Finance Committee, the Big East Conference Athletic Directors Executive Committee and the Big East Conference Championships and Competition Committee. Nicastro has been a member of the Colonial Athletic Association Football Conference Executive Committee and is on the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia Sports Congress.
A 1987 graduate of Bloomsburg University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration/Accounting, Nicastro earned his MBA from St. Joseph's University in 1994. Nicastro and his wife Liz reside in Drexel Hill, Pa., with their 14-year old twin sons, Jake and Casey.