Valentine hiring creates buzz at SHU

There is a new athletic director at Sacred Heart University, and the campus could not wait to welcome Bobby Valentine to the school Tuesday morning.

In front of a packed room of students, coaches and school administration at the University Commons, Valentine, a Stamford native and former manager of the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox was introduced as retiring Don Cook's successor.

"It's a significant and wonderful moment for Sacred Heart University," said Jim Barquinero, the senior vice president for intercollegiate athletics and student affairs. "Bobby's a leader and brings great energy."

The energy was felt the moment Valentine was introduced and clarified his role as the AD. Barquinero said the school will also hire a "deputy athletic director" to work with Valentine but that the former major league ballplayer and skipper was fully committed to the university.

"If it's a joke, it's an inside joke," Valentine said, when asked about media members questioning his hiring. "I'm very serious about everything I do in my life. I deal with passion and commitment, and I deal with excellence."

The agreement between Valentine and SHU does not have a set time, and the former skipper did not rule out a return to baseball.

"It's a term that will last until its no longer beneficial to each other," Valentine said about his agreement with the school, which will take effect July 1 when Cook retires.

Regardless of his length of stay, Valentine's arrive has created a buzz at the school.

"You could feel the energy in the room," said Mark Adzigian, SHU's Senior Associate Athletic Director for Licensing & Equipment Cook, 72, announced at the end of November that he was retiring from SHU after 20 years running the athletic programs.

At the time, Barquinero, SHU's senior vice president of student affairs and athletics, said a national search would be conducted to find Cook's replacement and the new hire might not come from the tradition AD route.

Valentine arrives from the baseball diamond where he was fired as the manager of the Red Sox after one season.

He also has previously managed the Mets, Texas Rangers and the Chiba Lotta Mariners in Japan, but has never served as an athletic director and will take over a job that oversees 31 NCAA Division I sports.

Outside of a press release announcing the hiring of Valentine and the scheduling of a press conference, SHU officials had remained tight-lipped about the hiring and coaches there have been asked not to comment on it.

Valentine reportedly visited the campus in mid-January and interviewed for the job.

Neither Barquinero nor the school would confirm Valentine's interview, but several sources told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers that it did take place.