Father Brian J. Shanley, O.P., Talks Big East

by The Cowl Editor on March 5, 2020

Friar Sports

Bob Driscoll Joins in for Riveting Presentation 

by Liam Tormey ’22

Sports Staff

Last Thursday, the Sports Business Organization at Providence College got the opportunity to hear Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. and Athletic Director Bob Driscoll discuss the history of the Big East Conference and the influence that both men had on its formation. 

To begin, both guests gave an overview of the roles that they have in sports at PC. Driscoll has been the athletic director at PC for 19 years and says his job is to “create the vision of what a first-class Division I department should look like.” He said that his role as athletic director  would not be possible without the support of the president of the College, with that, of course being Fr. Shanley.

Father Shanley and A.D. Bob Driscoll pose with the sports business organization
Photo Courtesy of PC SBO

Fr. Shanley’s role at PC is far-reaching; however, and sports are a big part of his responsibilities. Fr. Shanley talked about the importance of “hiring smart people and letting them do their own thing.” He also spoke to the fact that he believes that if he needs to get into the “weeds” about someone, then that person is not doing their job. Although, he admits that has never found this to be the case at PC. 

Next, Fr. Shanley and Driscoll were asked about both the history of the Big East and the realignment of the conference. The Big East originated in 1979. Fr. Shanley discussed the vision of Dave Gavitt, the former athletic director at PC at the time, and how he saw that northeast basketball was going to fall behind other major conferences unless something was done. 

Indeed, in the early stages, many colleges wanted to join the Big East, and the conference had great success. However, the demise of the conference in past 10 years came as many of the big schools left to go to football conferences where all the revenue was. 

Fr. Shanley spoke about the meeting at St. John’s University where all of the schools in the Big East got together to discuss how to fix this problem. At the meeting, it was decided that the Big East was going to “chart our own path individually of the football schools.”

 A unique opportunity arose with the arrival of Fox Sports 1 and their need for a polished basketball product. The match between the conference and TV broadcaster ended up being perfect, as the Big East Conference received a 12-year contract with Fox which has “been a blessing,” according to Fr. Shanley. 

Driscoll added that they were “in the right place at the right time” and “we went back to our roots” regarding the realignment of the Big East. The desire for schools to get into the Big East skyrocketed as presidents and athletic directors bombarded Fr. Shanley and Driscoll with calls to join the Big East. 

Being able to play at Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament was also a huge boost for the conference. Both Shanley and Driscoll referred to it as “the Mecca,” saying the ability to have a long-term deal with MSG as the only conference in the country to play at the Garden was very important. Many major conferences still want to play at MSG, but the Big East is still the only conference able to do so, and that is huge from a marketing standpoint for the conference. 

Fr. Shanley and Driscoll, were very excited to answer members’ questions about their role in forming the Big East Conference, and both believe the conference is in very good hands for years to come.  

Father Shanley, O.P., to Go on Sabbatical for Six Months

by The Cowl Editor on May 3, 2018


President Shares his Travel Plans and Goals for His Time Away

by Sabrina Guilbeault ’18

News Co-Editor Emerita

Nicholas Crenshaw ’20/The Cowl

At the end of this academic year, Father Brian Shanley, O.P., who has served as president of Providence College for the past 13 years, will be taking a six-month long sabbatical. During his time away, Vice President Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., will step in as acting president.

“I’m looking forward to not dealing with the 24/7 stresses that come with being president of Providence College,” said Fr. Shanley. “I love my job, but I’ve sensed that I needed a break.”

Generally speaking, all tenured faculty at PC are welcomed to take a sabbatical for six months or a year every seven years. Fr. Shanley explained around his 10-year mark, he felt ready for some time away, but the timing was not right due to the fact that the College was finishing a monumental capital campaign, was going through re-accreditation, and was celebrating its 100th anniversary. “With everything wrapping up, this felt like the perfect time to take six months off, and return refreshed and ready to go,” said Fr. Shanley.

When asked to describe a typical day in the life for the president of PC, Fr. Shanley said, “I don’t have a typical day.” According to Shanley, the role of president involves dealing and working with an array of people and countless relationships. “Time management is a big deal,” said the president. “Most of my days are in the office, but I also travel a lot for fundraising.”

With the president on sabbatical, Fr. Sicard will be stepping in as acting president, and some responsibilities will be passed on to Ann Manchester-Molak, assistant to the president and executive vice president. “Each of the vice presidents does a great job at what they do,” said Fr. Sicard, who explained a big responsibility for the College will be going through the final interviews and search for the new vice president for institutional diversity in the fall. “The way I work relies a lot on the cabinet,” he said. “They are so good at what they do and will keep PC the great success that is.”

Fr. Shanley explained that he is looking forward to having more time to read, especially philosophy. “It’s a challenge to live a contemplative life when you’re a college president,” he said, and remarked that as a college professor he felt he had more control over his life to read and listen to music. “I’m looking forward to slowing my life down and spending some time with family and friends.”

Prior to being president of PC, Fr. Shanley taught at Catholic University in Washington D.C, where he was a professor for 11 years. His last sabbatical was in 2001 during his time there.

During Fr. Shanley’s time at PC, the College has witnessed a vast amount of change. One example is that a majority of the faculty currently employed at PC were hired during Shanley’s tenure. Furthermore, the way PC physically looks has drastically changed. “Closing Huxley Avenue has brought our campus together in a way that is truly remarkable,” said Fr. Shanley.

Other changes and growth the College has seen include success in athletics, an increase of students studying abroad, gaining momentum on the amount of people applying to PC, and the amount of donations given to the College has also increased. Shanley also remarked how the student body has grown more diverse since he arrived 13 years ago, but the College can continue to do more for inclusion.

A  goal the president has for the future is working on the affordability of PC. He explained that one of his dreams for the College is meeting 100 percent of the financial need for all students who come here. “The challenge is we do not have the financial resources through endowment to currently do this,” said Fr. Shanley. He also stated that with more endowed scholarships, meeting this goal can be a reality.

“We’ll miss Fr. Shanley, but he deserves a break to recharge his batteries,” said Fr. Sicard, who has worked at PC for 21 years. “It’s such a blessing to work here. We’re surrounded by really good people.”

During his time away, Fr. Shanley also hopes to visit the beach, will travel with the men’s basketball team to Italy in August, and will go to Ireland in September to play golf with his brothers. “I also want to get my spiritual life back to where it should be,” said Shanley, who also stated that he is excited to do some cultural things like visiting the opera. “I also want to go to New York and do more than asking people for money for the College. I want to do the museums, and see a show.”

Fr. Shanley went on to say that he will miss being on campus for the first day of school, and explained there is something exciting about being on a college campus on the first day of classes. “I’ll be in and out though,” said Shanley. “I’ll be back soon enough, ans these six months will go by very quickly.”