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Former Villanova AD Vince Nicastro named Deputy Commissioner & COO of the Big East

In today's surprising news.

Former Villanova Wildcats Athletic Director Vince Nicastro was named the new Deputy Commissioner of the Big East Conference today, the league announced. The move comes as a surprise given that Nicastro relinquished his AD position just last June in favor of a directorial position inside the Villanova Law School.

For all you glass-half-empty readers, this is an appointment that may cause some concern. Nicastro's tenure as Villanova's AD didn't end with a bang. The school opted to bring in Mark Jackson from USC as his replacement and coming off a high-profile flop in conference realignment and with several capital projects on the horizon, it was time for a change. Fair or not, Nicastro's name conjures up tough memories for Wildcats fans.

There is some good to this move for Villanova, however. Getting a man with deep Villanova connections inside the league office could be beneficial to the school, which continues to be one of the leading institutions in the conference. With another round of realignment looking likely to kick off in the next few months Villanova should have a friendly voice in any discussions.

Here's the full release from the Big East:

NEW YORK  BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman today announced the appointment of Vince Nicastro to the newly-created position of Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer.   Nicastro will commence his duties on June 8 and will be based in the conference’s headquarter offices in New York City.

Nicastro joins the conference office following a long and accomplished career at Villanova University, a BIG EAST member institution since 1980.   He served for 15 years (2000-2015) as Villanova’s Director of Athletics before being named Associate Director of the Jeffrey Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at the Villanova School of Law last June.

In his new role, Nicastro will have day-to-day oversight of the BIG EAST’s conference operations and business functions, including governance, compliance, finance, NCAA and institutional relations, Olympic sport championships, events, communications, marketing, sales, and television and digital administration. Stu Jackson (Senior Associate Commissioner for Men’s Basketball) and Tracy Ellis-Ward (Associate Commissioner for Women’s Basketball) will continue to report to Ackerman.

“Vince has long been held in the highest regard by our member schools, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome him to our conference leadership team,” said Ackerman.  “His diversified skill set, extensive relationships and strong familiarity with our conference and the national landscape make him uniquely qualified for this position, and we expect him to hit the ground running in his new role.   

Ackerman added:  “We see enormous opportunity to build on the proud history and wide-ranging successes that have defined the BIG EAST for more than three decades, and Vince will be an invaluable contributor as we look to maintain our place as a premier NCAA conference and further the interests of our member schools.”

“I am humbled to have the opportunity to serve the BIG EAST Conference in this new role,” said Nicastro.  “Over the past two decades, I have developed a strong association with, and affection for, the conference and its member institutions.  I am excited to work alongside Val Ackerman and her team, as well as with the leadership of the BIG EAST schools in their efforts to build upon the conference’s great tradition and its national success.”   

As Villanova’s Director of Athletics, Nicastro led the department through an impressive period of growth on the athletic, academic and administrative levels. The men’s basketball program flourished under his watch, appearing in 10 NCAA Tournaments, including a Final Four in 2009, two trips to the Elite Eight, and four Sweet 16 appearances.  During his tenure, the Wildcats won three national championships (FCS football in 2009 and women’s cross-country in 2009 and 2010) and 30 BIG EAST conference team titles.  Villanova won the 2016 NCAA men’s basketball national championship last month. 

In the classroom, Villanova student-athletes under Nicastro consistently excelled in the classroom, with a dozen teams earning national recognition by the NCAA in his final year at the department’s helm.  In 2015, Villanova won the inaugural BIG EAST Presidents’ Award, an annual award recognizing the BIG EAST institution that has excelled at the highest levels of academics, athletics and citizenship.

Nicastro also spearheaded various fund-raising initiatives at VU, resulting in facility upgrades benefiting student-athletes across a wide range of sports.  Highlights included the opening of the Davis Center for Athletics & Fitness in 2007, renovations to the Villanova Soccer Complex in 2014 and the groundbreaking in 2015 for a new facility at the Villanova Football Stadium.

Nicastro has served on many BIG EAST and NCAA committees during his career, including, most recently, the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance.  He played a key role in the transition of the BIG EAST to its current configuration following realignment in 2013 and was a member of various conference committees on finance, championship and competition matters over the years.

Vince and his wife Liz have twin boys, Jake and Casey, 15.