Manhattan College Welcomes Irma Garcia as New Athletic Director. GOJASPERS/ COURTESY
By Isaiah Rosario, Sports Editor
After a controversial 2022-23 school year for Manhattan College Athletics, former Athletic Director Marianne Reilly stepped down from her position, and Irma Garcia was hired as Interim Athletic Director to fulfill the role.
On June 1, it was announced that Reilly had resigned from her position, with the resignation set to take effect on July 1.
Reilly stated that after seven years with the program, it was time for a new face and voice to lead the program.
“It has been an honor to serve my alma mater, our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and supporters,” Reilly said. “After seven years at the helm, it is time for a new voice to lead the Department into the future and time for me to embark on the next phase of my professional and personal journey. I am proud of what we were able to accomplish together and I will continue to cheer on the Jaspers in the years ahead. I am grateful to my colleagues, our talented staff, and most of all, the young men and women who proudly wear the green and white.”
Reilly’s resignation came just before the announcement from the college that the athletic department had been in violation of several NCAA regulations.
Just a week later, it was announced that the former Assistant Vice President, Director of Athletics at St. Francis College (Brooklyn), and former Women’s Basketball Head Coach would assume the position immediately.
Irma Garcia spoke to The Quadrangle about what intrigued her to come to Manhattan College to fill the vacant position of athletic director.
“I’ve been a Director of Athletics, and one of the things that I noticed about here is that it’s similar to what I’ve been used to, a small school with a lot of potential [and] some great history,” Garcia said. “It intrigued me just to come on campus now. I’ve never been on a campus where everything’s right around me. I noticed [the] great teams and the history here … so that intrigued me and working with good people, especially administration and coaches.”
Former Interim President, Daniel Gardner and Vice President of Student Life, Ronald Gray both played vital roles in the hiring of Garcia. Garcia’s understanding of the college’s Lasallian values and catholic beliefs played a vital role in the hiring.
“When we spoke, probably the very first question she asked me was about mission and the personal development of each athlete, which really goes along with our Catholic Lasallian mission for the college,” Gardner said. “We’re taking a look at our students as individuals seeing what they need in order to grow to full potential, and we’re taking a look at our students as people who are people for others, we have all these gifts and talents, but they’re no good to anyone if we don’t share them. [Garcia] was right on target with that for the direction of our athletes. Student-athletes, and really with some of the personal development programs that she wants to put forth for our coaches in terms of professional development, and our students in terms of both personal and professional development.”
“I think one of the things that I love is the fact that Irma is all about the students and that that was important for us, also the connection between her Catholic values and the Lasallian Catholic values,” Gray said. “She’s a smart, athletic person. She played basketball. She was the first woman [athletic director] at St. Francis College. She was just an excellent choice.”
In finding such an excellent choice for the athletic director, there were most certainly some challenges facing the hiring committee, when finding a new athletic director.
“Speed,” Gray said. “Trying to move effectively and efficiently given that we were strapped for time and I would have loved the person or the people to come and talk with students and talk with you, that would have been ideal, but we wanted to move quickly, but make the right decision. I think that was a challenge, but there are a lot of strong people out there and I just think Irma rose to the top.”
The growth of student-athletes in both the classroom and on the court is vital to the success of the college’s athletic programs. Garcia reiterates the importance of putting the ‘student’ before the ‘athlete’.
“The student comes before the athlete, and I really believe in the whole student holistic kind of way of looking at things,” Garcia said. “It’s important that the student always comes first in academics. Then you have the part where it’s the athletes and you can receive accolades from that, but then the community is part of it.”
During Garcia’s time as athletic director, she wants to ensure that the community and students play a vital role in the athletic department.
“[Community is a] huge part of who we are and getting outside of the community and bringing the community inside and also internally to make sure that we’re involved with the faculty about student engagement involved with everything with the college,” Garcia said. “I always believe student-athletes and athletics are always going to be at the forefront of any institution in the sense that we deal with the outside world. We deal with the inside world, how we bring it together, how we get everybody collectively buying into the family type of way of looking at things, so that’s the exciting part about what I see as the future of the program going.”
As the college is such a storied program with around 170 years of history, Gardner does not see Garcia building from scratch, but building upon our great history.
“Manhattan College is such a storied and traditional program and everything that probably one of the things that she has to really be cognizant of as she develops her program is that this isn’t starting from scratch,” Gardner said. “She’s building on 170 years of greatness. She’s taking over the tradition and the program that brother Jasper himself with the athletic director … whatever she does, I think that she is such a wise administrator that she’s gonna realize that she’s building on top of this.”