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Q&A with Athletic Director, Chris Palmer

Photo Courtesy of Charger Athletics

Photo Courtesy of Charger Athletics

Chris DiGeronimo, Sports Editor

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Chris Palmer officially became the director of athletics and recreation on Jan 16, 2018. He is the sixth person to hold this title, coming into the university with 25 years experience in the National Football League, including a 2008 Super Bowl Championship with the New York Giants. He comes back to the university after previously leading the university’s football team from 1986-1987.   

Q: What are some of the biggest improvements you’ve seen so far in your first full year as Athletic Director?

A: “The year and two months have gone by very quickly we’ve been very busy trying to improve things on the north campus. I think the athletes are the ones that we are trying to serve and we are trying to make this a better place for them. We are working on having the concession stand and restrooms finished by the baseball and football field, that’s almost complete and it should be completed within the next two weeks. We have gotten sweat suits for all of our athletes that they proudly wear around campus, I think it’s good advertisement for the university, I think they’re classy and they get to wear them on trips and things like that. Our football team had a good season, our volleyball team had a good season, both our men’s and women’s basketball teams had good seasons. Our indoor track and field team scored 40 points more than they did a year ago and they are only losing three seniors, so I am excited about that. Women’s lacrosse is off to a strong start, I’m excited for our baseball teams season to unfold. On May 2, we are going to replace the turf on Kathy Zolad Stadium. That turf has outlived its use by far. On April 29 We are also going to replace the gym floor with new bleachers. I think our athletes will say that things are happening fast on our north campus. We are putting in a new batting cage for both baseball and softball to use. We are also putting smaller scoreboards on both the baseball and softball fields so that students and fans can see the scores wherever they are sitting around the ballpark. So, from that standpoint I’m excited and we’re anxious to continue to raise money for different things we are trying to do within the north campus. President Kaplan has been very supportive in our efforts”.

Q: You hired two new head coaches in Brian Quinn and Christa Cooper. What made them the best candidates to lead their respective programs?

A: “Well our soccer program attracted over 128 applicants which to me was a large number of candidates that applied. I would like to return soccer to what I remembered it as when Joe Machnik was here running the soccer program. I like to see us be successful and competitive in the soccer program. I think that’s doable. We have some other teams in our conference that have more scholarships than us and one of the things I am trying to do is raise more money to attract the best DII players that we can, and we are trying to do that in women’s soccer as well. The volleyball program is an attractive program, there have only been two coaches in Debbie Chin and Robin Salters and both of them were highly successful coaches. Christa (Cooper) came in and did a great job. In both coaching searches we interviewed young, up and coming coaches along with coaches with head coaching experience. Each program was different and at the end of the search we sat down and said ‘ok, what does this program need?’ In the volleyball situation Christa’s strengths fit what the program needed at that particular time and for the soccer program we thought that Brian’s (Quinn) strength fit what the program needed at that time. Brian’s taking over a program that has been down for a little bit and we’re hoping that he gets it turned around really quick. Christa is inheriting a program that’s strong, each one of them has different pressures but they are both very good coaches.

Q: Where do you see University of New Haven Athletics within the next 3-5 years?

A: “I think it’ll be pretty much where it is right now. I think we have to improve our facilities over here, if you go around and look at the facilities of people in our conference we would not rank in the top of the heap. The main part of  campus has done a tremendous job, our facilities on the main part are as good as any school and we have to do that over here in our locker rooms, on our playing fields, in our gymnasium, we have to improve those areas. When a student athlete looks at our facility, we want them to say these are top notch facilities, I can get a great education and I can complete on the DII level and I can be happy and challenged from that standpoint. Three to five years from now when we have the facilities where we think they should be, we’ll continue to evaluate where we should be. The landscape of college athletics is changing every year, some people are going Division I, some are dropping down, people are dropping sports. I think things will continue to evolve at the Division II level and we will do the same”.

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Q&A with Athletic Director, Chris Palmer