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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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    Stony Brook athletics continues to ascend college ranks

    Stony Brook men’s basketball started out in 1960 and finished 0-8 that year. Just last season they were one game short of the NCAA Tournament. In over 50 years, the team has come a long way, and so has the rest of Stony Brook athletics. Stony Brook started out as a Division III school and became Division I in 1999. The program also spent 1995-1999 as a Division II school, since it was required to make the jump to Division I.

    The man who came in with the idea of the switch was former Dean of Athletics Richard Laskowski. Laskowski came in as the dean in 1994 after spending 19 years at St. John’s University, including eight as the associate director of athletics for varsity sports.

    Making the switch was hard enough, but convincing the rest of the faculty made Laskowski’s job even harder. “The faculty did not want Division I, and they needed to give me a higher rank than A.D. to make the switch,” said Laskowski. “I was in charge of athletics and the physical education department at that time and I had to set my own timeline to move the program from Division III to [Division] II to [Division] I.”

    The university athletics has grown since its move to Division I. Most of its popular sports have either won regular season or conference tournament championships.

    One of these sports is football, which made the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision, a first in Stony Brook history. All of this happened under the realm of football coach Chuck Priore and athletic director Jim Fiore. “I think when Jim and President Shirley Kenny had the vision for scholarship football back six years ago, I think they wanted it to be what it would come to. We obviously have an opportunity to compete for a conference championship by ourselves, so we have the opportunity to reach the ultimate goal for all of football, which is a playoff berth,” said coach Priore

    Football has seen a positive difference since the switch to Division I. Before changing divisions, Stony Brook had zero championships or awards, and they have three conference championships after the switch. Switching to Division I also meant recruiting better players, and the Seawolves have done that with present-day threats like Brock Jackolski and Miguel Maysonet. Both are from Long Island. Jackolski is from Shirley, N.Y. and Maysonet is from Riverhead, N.Y.

    Stony Brook baseball has also seen success since the move to Division I. Head coach Matt Senk has been the coach since 1990 and has seen the program in all three divisions. “With playing at the highest level we get the opportunity to get more local and national exposure,” said coach Senk. As with football, recruitment has improved since the team went to Division I. The team sent Joe Nathan, a four-time All-Star, to the majors and currently has Nick Tropeano in the farm system of the Houston Astros.

    The switch to Division I has been extremely positive for Seawolve baseball as they are reaching different goals every year. “This past summer we sent six guys to the Cape Cod League…We have not sent six guys to the Cape Cod League in all of the years combined,” said coach Senk. “We are playing a more aggressive non-conference schedule every year and are adding the credibility factor when playing.”

    Seawolves basketball has also seen changes. Starting out as  a winless team in 1960, they were within minutes of reaching the NCAA Division I Tournament. Since making the switch in 1999, and entering the America East in 2001 basketball has seen its win total drop, then increase. After only winning four games in 2005-06, the Seawolves won 22 in 2009-10. In that season, they made it to the National Invitation Tournament for the first time in school history. The following season also brought a first in school history; reaching the America East Tournament Finals. Although the team only won 15 games in the regular season, eight in the conference, it got hot at the right time. It won all its games in the tournament and lost by two to Boston University in the championship game.

    Men’s lacrosse is one of the Stony Brook programs that saw itself nationally ranked in past years. The team made it to the conference tournament semifinals every year since 2008 and reached the NCAA quarterfinals in 2011, and lost to Virginia 10-9. The team has two conference tournament titles and two NCAA tournament appearances, one apiece from coaches John Espey and Rick Sowell. The team has also seen some alumni make it professionally. Crowley was the top Major League Lacrosse draft pick for the Hamilton Nationals in 2011. Teammates Jordan McBride and Adam Rand were also selected in the 2011 draft. Steven Waldeck was drafted in the 2010 draft and plays for the Nationals as well.

    With the switch to Division I came the improvement of facilities for athletes and the Stony Brook community as well. Joe Nathan donated money to Stony Brook to improve the baseball field, which is now made of turf and renamed Joe Nathan Field. Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, which houses football, and the men and women’s soccer and lacrosse teams was built in 2002 and seats 8,300 people.  The Stony Brook Sport’s Complex is home to the Stony Brook University Arena and the Pritchard Gymnasium. Pritchard Gymnasium is the temporary home for both men’s and women’s basketball teams and the women’s volleyball team.

    One of the reasons the switch was made was the lack of recognition for the university. Moving into Division I made the Seawolves more known, especially for their athletic program.“It was the best thing for Stony Brook at that time,” said Laskowski. “You can only be taken seriously with sports, there are no education segments on television, there’s sports.”

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