Formation of the New Big East Advances as the Conference Announces Landmark Broadcast Partnership with FOX Sports
Conference Grows to 10 Members with Addition of Butler, Creighton and Xavier; Madison Square Garden Remains Host Venue of Conference Tournament
Update on Conference Affiliation
Group offers student-athletes a path to becoming leaders
Vince Nicastro enters his 14th year as the Villanova University Director of Athletics in 2013-14.
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 13 seasons at the helm, Nicastro has overseen significant success in the key areas of intercollegiate athletics, and the past four years in particular have been a period of great achievement.
During the 2012-13 academic year both the men's and women's basketball teams reached the NCAA Tournament, marking the fourth time that both teams were in the NCAA field in the same year. The men's basketball team appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in the last nine years, while women's basketball advanced to national postseason play for the 11th time in the past 14 seasons. The football team won a share of the CAA Football championship and received the league's automatic bid to the Division I Football Championship, marking the program's fourth playoff appearance in the last five years. The men's and women's cross country teams each competed in the NCAA Championship for the fifth straight season, while the women's track & field team won its 31st and 32nd titles at the Penn Relays and set an all-time collegiate record in the 4x800 meter relay. The men's and women's cross country and track & field teams combined for 16 All-Americans during the 2012-13 academic year. In the NACDA Directors' Cup, a program which recognizes a school's across-the-board success in athletics, Villanova finished 2012-13 ranked No. 75 overall and was second among the teams that make up the new BIG EAST Conference.
Other highlights from the 2012-13 academic year include the men's lacrosse team being BIG EAST regular season co-champions and earning the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, which the Wildcats hosted for the second straight year. Villanova continues to host events on a national scale and in a span of six months will have hosted both the 2013 NCAA Women's Lacrosse Division I Championship as well as the 2013 NCAA Men's Soccer College Cup, in addition to several conference tournaments.
On the heels of back-to-back extremely successful campaigns Villanova continued its momentum during the 2011-12 academic year. The Wildcats saw the men's and women's cross country teams each win BIG EAST team titles and qualify for the NCAA Championships. The women's cross country team finished third at the national championships and Sheila Reid repeated as the individual national champion. During the spring season Reid led Villanova to the program's 30th Penn Relays title when the Wildcats won the distance medley relay.
Villanova finished 2010-11 ranked 50th in the NACDA Directors' Cup, a program which recognizes a school's across-the-board success in athletics. The ranking was Villanova's highest since 2003-04 and ranked the Wildcats second among non-Football Bowl Subdivision schools and fifth best among all BIG EAST schools. The 2010-11 academic year was highlighted by the women's cross country team winning its second consecutive and ninth all-time national championship. In all five different teams advanced to national postseason play in 2010-11.
The successful campaign for the Wildcats in 2010-11 followed an equally impressive year in 2009-10, when Villanova celebrated national championships in women's cross country and football. The football team won its first-ever FCS national championship, while the women's soccer and men's basketball teams also made trips to the NCAA Tournament. In addition, the women's indoor track & field team captured the BIG EAST championship and the men's lacrosse team was ranked in the nation's top-10 during the inaugural year of men's lacrosse competition in the BIG EAST Conference.
Under Nicastro's stewardship, the men's basketball team has qualified for the NCAA Tournament in eight of the past nine years (2005-13) and played in the 2009 Final Four. The women's soccer team participated in six NCAA Tournaments from 2001-09 and the women's basketball program has tallied 20 wins or more seven times since 2000 en route to earning a postseason bid in 11 of the last 14 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.
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 2012-13. 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. 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.
Achievement in the classroom has also remained a priority under Nicastro's leadership. During the 2012-13 academic year, Villanova student-athletes posted a 3.163 grade point average - making 20 consecutive semesters with a composite GPA above 3.0, while achieving exemplary graduation rates. Also in 2012-13, six Wildcat teams received NCAA Public Recognition Awards for ranking in the top 10 percent in the nation for team GPA within their sport. In addition, Villanova saw 21 of its varsity sports post an APR score above the overall national average.
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 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 13-year old twin sons, Jake and Casey.