Hofstra Alumnus Brad Gerstman
Brad Gerstman: Stony Brook University –King of Long Island
The rising achievement of Stony Brook University’s athletic department under the leadership of Hofstra football alumni and athletic director, Jim Fiore, has only just begun. After being named Under Armour Northeast Region Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, (NACDA) Fiore is continuing to solidify Stony Brook’s competitive position within college athletics on a national level. Yet in the wake of such success, it is necessary to consider the ironic relationship that exists between the growing athletic program of Stony Brook and the failing decline of local rival, Hofstra University.
This spring season Stony Brook made national headlines as the men’s baseball team became the first New York program to attend the College World Series since 1980. Though the team may not have championed the series, they undeniably earned countrywide recognition for their impressive performance and budding athletic department. With a record of seven student athletes drafted to play professionally, Stony Brook’s athletic program is not only setting the bar for college athletics, but also molding young talent for the highest level of competition. At this rate, it is safe to say that this is only the beginning for Fiore and his eager band of athletes and staff.
In discussing both athletic departments, it is only fair to remember the once overwhelming success of Hofstra University. With division 1 sports teams comprised of some of Long Island’s most promising athletes, the Hempstead turnpike institution once represented the best of the best here on Long Island. Fans from towns throughout the state came to see each of Hofstra’s athletic squads rival many of the finest programs in the nation. Jim Fiore is but one of countless Hofstra student-athletes who were bred for achievement through the thriving athletic department. Now in his ninth year as acting athletic director, Jim has worked hard to quietly build Stony Brook athletics into a flourishing program, undoubtedly outshining that of his alma mater.
So what is responsible for the inverse relationship of success between both Long Island Universities? One may attribute the transformation to a game-changing year for both programs. For Stony Brook, 2003 was the year that Jim Fiore began what has since grown to be an impressively successful journey of evolution and achievement, in pursuit of a permanent position as New York’s first dominant state school. For Hofstra, it was something much different. 2003 marked the beginning of a turbulent nine years. Tarnished by the termination of a once prosperous football program and scattered with continued inconsistency, the Hofstra University athletic department has produced confusion, turbulence and a merry-go-round of coaching and leadership. In less then a decade, Hofstra men’s basketball has seen the likes of four head coaches, and most recently, the men’s baseball coach chose to depart from the University before the commencement of this year’s season. Now onto its second athletic director, Hofstra is licking its wounds while preceding director, Jack Hayes, has fled to a less competitive program at Brown University.
The irony here lies not just in the changing tides of these two rival schools, but also in the leadership of Long Island’s newly crowned king. Jim Fiore, a successful example of what was an inspiring institution, has now helped to crown an unlikely successor. Stony Brook’s commitment has proven successful through a visionary leader, while Hofstra is scrambling to regain an athletic identity.
-Bradley Gerstman, Esq.