Seizing the opportunity to move Stony Brook athletics to the next level, university president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley on Thursday announced the hiring of Oregon State's Shawn Heilbron as the school's new athletic director.
Heilbron will be introduced at a formal news conference at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the first official event in renovated Stony Brook Arena.
During the past three years, Heilbron served as senior associate athletic director in charge of development at Oregon State, where he revamped "Our Beaver Nation," the primary athletic fundraising group. He also was chief administrator for the football and basketball programs.
Heilbron previously spent five years at UCLA, where he oversaw the Wooden Athletic Fund. He spent seven years at SMU in fundraising, marketing, sponsorship and ticket sales.
Stanley said state support for athletics isn't enough to allow Stony Brook to achieve its future goals. "We really need to fundraise, and we really need philanthropy if we want to move forward," he said. "We've got a great advancement team, but clearly, Shawn has had tremendous success in this.
"I didn't want just a fundraiser, though. I wanted somebody who had management experience, so the fact he was involved with the administration of men's basketball and football, the revenue-generating sports, was important, too."
Heilbron replaces Jim Fiore, who was fired on Nov. 19 because an internal investigation into a female subordinate's harassment complaint raised serious concern among the school's leadership, a source familiar with the investigation told Newsday at the time. No disciplinary charges were lodged against Fiore as a result of the school's investigation or a state Department of Labor inquiry, but the school paid off the remaining 31 months of Fiore's contract worth nearly $800,000.
The Parker Executive Search firm based in Atlanta was hired to conduct a nationwide search that was overseen by a 17-member Stony Brook AD search committee, including administrators, faculty, student-athlete and alumni representatives and members of the Stony Brook Council and Stony Brook Foundation. It ended Thursday when Heilbron accepted the position.
Stanley praised the job executive associate director of athletics Donna Woodruff did as interim athletic director the past five months. "I'm proud of the job Donna has done," Stanley said. "She helped maintain the stability and the momentum of the athletic program."
As part of the hiring announcement, Heilbron issued a prepared statement, saying, "Stony Brook is well-positioned as a university, and I am excited that President Stanley sees athletics as a way to enhance the Stony Brook brand on a national level. I thank him for his trust and confidence in appointing me to this position."
Oregon State football coach Mike Riley expressed sadness at losing Heilbron and endorsed his qualifications for the Stony Brook job. "Shawn has a creative mind," Riley said. "He's one of the best we've had at getting in front of an audience and articulating a vision. He was destined to become an athletic director. And he's a good guy, too."
Stanley said members of the search committee were excited by the opportunity to hire Heilbron to grow the athletic program. "One of the reasons we brought Shawn in is because of his expertise," he said. "We have an exciting product in football and men's and women's basketball. We need to do a better job of getting that out . . . I think Shawn brings vision and energy and drive to help us do that."