BANGOR, Maine — Frank Pergolizzi and his wife, Mary, used to vacation in Maine.
“And we had always said if we ever had a chance to live in Maine, it’s something we’d really like to do,” said the first-year athletic director at Husson University in Bangor.
Pergolizzi’s first teaching and coaching job out of college was also was in Maine, at Hebron Academy, where he was the head football and basketball coach.
Pergolizzi, who was one of three finalists for the University of Maine AD job in 2006, was named the AD at Husson in August. He replaced Bob Reasso, who left to become the AD, vice president for athletics and men’s soccer coach at Pfeiffer University (N.C.).
“It’s been great. We have a great group of coaches and staff and a great group of student-athletes. It’s an outstanding university. I’m really excited to be here,” said the Brooklyn, N.Y., native.
His extensive resume includes stops at West Virginia Institute of Technology, Southeast Louisiana, East Tennessee State and St. Francis (Pa.).
“We have had a pretty good degree of success here already and step No. 1 is to make sure we stay at that level. No. 2, over time, I’m hoping we can lift the bar and make a little bit more of an impact in the NCAA (Division III) tournaments than perhaps we have in the past,” Pergolizzi said.
But Pergolizzi also knows that is no small task and said North Atlantic Conference teams usually receive a low NCAA tournament seed.
Pergolizzi, a former linebacker at Division III Williams College (Mass.), said Husson’s location is not a disadvantage as far as recruiting.
“It looks like our coaches are dealing with that pretty well. This is a great place to recruit to. We have nice facilities. These are probably some of the best facilities I’ve ever had and they’re literally right outside the front door,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful campus and we offer a broad-based set of academic programs that are attractive in this day and age,” added Pergolizzi. “With our academic programs, like occupational therapy, parents and students can say [going to Husson] is going to pay off for me during the rest of my life. We’re getting a return on our investment. It isn’t just another liberal arts college.”
Pergolizzi believes in the importance of marketing and promotion despite the Division III philosophy that the “focus should be on the participants and not the spectators.”
“But nobody will argue that playing in a packed gym doesn’t enhance the student-athlete’s athletic experience,” said Pergolizzi.
He and his staff are going to send out a newsletter every three months to 1,800 former Husson athletes and donors to keep them abreast of the athletic program’s progress. Those will not include fundraising requests, at least for the immediate future.
“How many times have you heard someone say the only time they hear from their alma mater is when they’re asking for money? I don’t believe in that, especially being the new guy on the block.”
Pergolizzi said he wants alums and donors to be in the loop and to feel included in Husson’s plans. He intends to schedule weekend get-togethers for alums, donors and corporate sponsors, faculty and staff that coincide with home basketball series in January and February.
“They can come to the games and in the hospitality [Hall of Fame] room,” said the 56-year-old Pergolizzi, who plans to give away free tickets for special weekends.
Alums and donors will receive frequent cards from him, he said, as will student-athletes who win awards. He intends to fine-tune the work done by the school’s boosters group, the Eagles Club, and he hopes to expand the exposure the school receives from the media including games broadcast on television and radio.
Pergolizzi said he is still in the process of learning the financial aspects of his athletic budget. He noted that he will be involved with two studies detailing the athletic program’s outline, one to the NCAA, which is required every five years, and the other to the school’s board of trustees.
A field house “is on the radar screen but it probably isn’t at the top of the list of construction priorities on campus,” he said.
Pergolizzi said he is pleased that Husson is perceived favorably in the community and is looking forward to his tenure.
“We’re happy to be here and we just made it through our first snowstorm,” he said.