|Title:||Executive Director of Athletics|
For most of the past 50 years, Sacred Heart University Executive Director of Athletics C. Donald Cook has been a fixture in college athletics in Connecticut - first as a student-athlete, then as a baseball coach and an athletics administrator. His dedication to the state of Connecticut earned him one of the state's highest honors in 1999, the Gold Key Award from the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance.
He was the recipient of the All-America Football Foundation's General Robert Neyland Athletic Director's Award in 2001, as well as the ECAC Athletics Administrator of the Year Award in 1998.
Cook begins his 20th year at Sacred Heart University, and his 41st as a senior athletics administrator at a Connecticut institution He recentley chaired the Northeast Conference Athletic Director's Committee for 2010-11 and 2011-12 and served on the NEC Strategic Planning Committe.
He was a co-founder and the first president of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), a former president of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), a member of the NCAA Council, and served on the NCAA Division I-A and I-AA Football Issues Committee.
He is a recent chair of the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA) Executive Committee, and has continued as a member of the Association's Executive Committee while serving on the League's strategic planning committee. He formally served on the NACDA Football Executive Committee. He is the current chair of the Northeast Conference Baseball Committee and a member of the NEC Membership Committee, and chairs the organization's Cost Containment Committee.
Under his leadership, Sacred Heart has expanded its intercollegiate athletic program from 12 to 31 varsity sports and constructed several new facilities, including the $17.5 million William H. Pitt Health and Recreation Center. He led the Pioneers' move to Division I status, which began in 1999 as a full member of the Northeast Conference (NEC), the ECAC and an associate member of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in men's wrestling, as well as a charter member of the Atlantic Ice Hockey Association (AHA). Included in program development and move to Division I, Cook guided the University through its first NCAA Division I certification in 2007, a process that reaffirmed and validated the University's commitment to the highest NCAA Division I standards. He was a recent recipient of the Sacred Heart Administrator of the Year Award.
He also made significant contributions at Fairfield University, his alma mater. As a baseball catcher and solid hitter, Cook starred for the three Stag teams and in 1963, served as co-captain and received the senior class athletic award. Appointed head coach in 1966, he directed the Fairfield team for 19 years, transforming the program into a respected Division I entity and producing 15 pro players. During his years (1971-86) as Fairfield's athletic director, Cook supervised the building of the Recreation Complex, the enlargement of Alumni Hall and the renovation of Alumni Field.
As athletic director at the University of Hartford from 1986-92, Cook oversaw the building of an $11 million athletics complex as well as the program's emergence as a Division I institution. As the Hawks interim baseball coach, he contributed to the development of Jeff Bagwell, one of the Major League Baseball's finest hitters.
Cook earned three degrees from Fairfield: a bachelor's degree in Economics, a master's in Counseling and a master's in Corporate Communications. He did extensive post-graduate work in business at the University of Connecticut as well.
In 1984, Cook was inducted into the Fairfield Alumni Association's Athletic Hall of Fame, the highest athletic honor at Fairfield, for his accomplishments as an athlete, coach and administrator.
Recently, Cook survived the passing of his wife, Patty Hemenway, a former high level actress who starred as Evita on Broadway in the early 1980's. Patty was a 1972 graduate of Sacred Heart. He is the father of two children, Christopher, Vice President of Marketing at Hitachi Credit America Corporation (married to Camilla Mackeprang of Westport, Connecticut), and Dr. Courtney Stephenson of Charlotte, North Carolina where she is a board certified obstetrician and surgeon in maternal fetal medicine. Her husband, Steve, is a gastroenterologist. Patty and Don have two grandchildren, George (10) and Julianna (7).