Shawn Heilbron already has big plans as the newly hired athletic director of Stony Brook University.
The university has made huge strides in athletics in recent years, climbing from Division III to Division I athletics, and Heilbron said he plans to continue building on this progress.
Keeping the students’ academic success in mind, Heilbron said his goal is to enhance football and basketball to bring in more revenue and more championships for all sports, including women’s.
Heilbron stresses the idea that his student athletes will be ready for life after college. His coaching staff is on board with this idea.
“We have coaches that are committed to doing it the right way, with integrity, with conviction, developing our student athletes,” he says. “They know it is a great academic institution and they don’t want to compromise that just to have success. They are committed to helping student athletes achieve their dreams.”
And Heilbron has a strategy to achieve this multifaceted strategy.
“I am committed to all of our sports having that same heightened experience,” Heilbron says, adding that to do this, he needs to raise money through the lucrative sports – football and basketball.
“I am committed to giving my student athletes the unbelievable experience they deserve. I believe one way we can do that is growing our football program. It’s a way we can increase campus pride, it’s a way we can increase additional revenue and invest back to all of our sports. . . To compete at the highest level takes incredible diligence and incredible commitment and it takes a plan.”
It will take Heilbron’s marketing and communications background to accomplish this goal.
“We have to get Stony Brook students really excited about what it means to come and support,” he said. “It’s not just about watching the game; it’s about the campus experience. It is about pride, so we need to reach out to the students, the campus community. It starts with a plan and a process and we will work very, very hard to start right here on campus and build up from there.”
Building up athletics programs will include boosting women’s sports.
“We plan to grow women’s sports just the same as any other sport,” Heilbron said. “It starts with opportunities, it starts with making sure that we are funding our programs properly so they have opportunities to succeed.”
Increased revenue from football games will improve athletics all around, Heilbron says.
“If football does make the jump to the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) level, that would mean adding women’s sports because of Title IX, which is an exciting thing to think about,” he says. “We just hired a new women’s basketball coach who I am very excited about. And with the new (basketball) arena, we feel like women’s basketball has a chance to do some great things.”
Heilbron said he plans not only to raise money, but also to win championships: “We care more about winning, we care more about them lifting trophies.”