This was the opportunity Paul Vecchio had been waiting for. This wasn't just the chance to guide an entire athletic department. It was also an opportunity for a homecoming. The fit seemed right on both ends and Tuesday, Alfred University made it official, announcing Vecchio as its next athletic director.
"I've been wanting for some time to run my own show as the director of athletics," Vecchio said. "This is an exciting time for me and my family."
Vecchio will leave his post as the senior associate athletic director at the University at Buffalo in May and begin his tenure at Alfred in July, taking over for Jim Moretti, who is retiring after 14 years as the Saxons' AD.
Before joining Buffalo's athletics department staff in 1995, he spent three years (1992-95) as the sports information director at Alfred. Vecchio is a native of Olean, while his wife grew up in Hinsdale, making the Southern Tier a bit of home for the family.
"Alfred is not so much a place as it is a culture," Vecchio said. "It's a unique town and university, and it's special for me. They've had success in football and a few other sports, and I really loved the opportunity to run an athletic department that has such a huge impact on the entire university. Around 30 percent of all Alfred's undergraduate students are in the intercollegiate athletic program. That means athletics has a huge impact on the entire university community. And the school has come a long way in raising its academic profile in national rankings."
Still, taking the opportunity is bittersweet for Vecchio, who spent 17 years in Buffalo, starting as the sports information director in 1995. During his time with the Bulls' athletic program, he oversaw the athletics communications office, acted as the official spokesman for UB athletics and was the day-to-day supervisor for wrestling and men's and women's tennis. Vecchio also was involved in fundraising, helping to create and execute a $325,000 effort to upgrade the wrestling facilities at UB.
"UB has made an indelible mark on me as a person," Vecchio said. "I've been blessed with fantastic coaches, colleagues and student-athletes to work for and work with. There as been such a change in UB athletics and going through the highs and lows and in between has been incredibly rewarding. I've bled blue and white."
Vecchio's departure leaves another hole in senior leadership at Buffalo after Athletic Director Warde Manuel left last month to take the AD position at Connecticut. While the transition may be difficult, Vecchio sees it as an opportunity for Buffalo.
"It will be a difficult for a few months as coaches will feel a little bit of a void at the top of the administration," he said. "On the other hand, the next athletic director can see this as an opportunity to put people in key positions. The new AD will have the freedom to fill those leadership positions, and that can be attractive to people looking at the job."