On July 1, a former Williams basketball player will take the reins of Williams athletics from the hands of his former freshmen basketball coach, 29 years after the two first met.
Last week, President Carl Vogt and Dean of the Faculty D.L. Smith announced that men’s basketball coach Harry C. Sheehy III ’75 will replace Bob Peck as the new Chair and Director of Physical Education, Athletics and Recreation.
After 17 years at Williams, Sheehy was hired as athletic director after a long search process. He was chosen primarily for his commitment to the school, his leadership skills and his vision for the athletic department.
The College began its search process in the early fall, after current Athletic Director Bob Peck announced his retirement. The College accepted applications for the position until the beginning of December.
Dean of the Faculty D. L. Smith headed a committee of 13 coaches, professors and students in reviewing applications and interviewing candidates.
The committee narrowed its choices to four candidates and brought them to campus for an intensive series of interviews and meetings.
Ultimately, the committee listed the strengths and weaknesses of the final four candidates, and Smith and Vogt selected the finalist.
“[Dean Smith and I] were of a single mind on Harry Sheehy,” said Vogt, citing what he saw as Sheehy’s main strengths. “Sheehy has a passion for Williams,” said Vogt. “But most of all we think he has leadership ability. He’s an excellent communicator and we think he has a vision for the way in which athletics at Williams should be conducted.”
Sheehy elaborated on his vision, saying that he believes athletics and academics at Williams complement one another. He added that he is excited to participate in this relationship at a higher level by being an advocate for all student-athletes and working closely with all coaches and support staff. “I really believe in what we do and how we do it, and I think it’s going to be fun to support that effort,” he said.
Jim Sheehy ’00, co-captain of the men’s basketball team this year, agreed. “Coach Sheehy understands the mission of athletics here. He went here, so he understands that there needs to be a balance with your studies and he also understands how important sports are for 50 percent of the population,” he said.
Sheehy’s colleagues in the athletic department expressed their approval of his promotion. “I think he’s a good choice, a very good choice,” said Peck.
“I’m pleased to see that Harry was named,” said Bud Fisher, associate director of athletics.
“I think he’ll do a great job,” said Steve Kuster, head coach of men’s and women’s swimming.
“I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from alums, faculty, and students,” said Vogt.
According to Peck, the athletic department has already started making the transition to its new head. Sheehy will participate in the ongoing search for new football, lacrosse and women’s ice hockey coaches and will lead the search for new volleyball, softball and men’s basketball coaches. Peck said that Sheehy will also need to consider the future of NCAA participation.
Sheehy will vacate his position as men’s basketball coach to dedicate himself to his new position. “I’m glad to hear [Sheehy’s] heading up the search, because I know he’s going to hire us a good coach,” said next year’s men’s basketball co-captain Joe Weiss ’01.
Sheehy said that he is a strong proponent of NCAA post-season play, and a critic of the NESCAC presidents’ policy. He said that students gain more from national playoff experience than they can from league play.
Though the NCAA has already prioritized league play by eliminating many of its at-large bids, Sheehy said that he is committed to working with future president Morton Shapiro for more NCAA post-season opportunities.
While some students have voiced concern over Sheehy’s connection to the admissions office – his wife Connie Sheehy ’75, is associate director of admissions for operations – and the impact that this may have on preference for athletes in admissions, Sheehy said that there is no connection.
“That would be way too self-serving. The admissions policy is controlled by the faculty Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid. There will be no collusion here,” said Fisher.