By: Will Crothers
On Sept. 4, it was announced that some changes were coming to Badger-land, as Athletic Director Robert Hilson will be stepping down to assume another role within Brock University. Long-time Assistant A.D. and former Varsity Women’s Basketball coach Chris Critelli will assume the Interim Athletic Director role with Hilson’s replacement expected to be hired in the spring of 2015. Critelli had previously served as Interim-A.D. in the period from retirement of Dr. Lorne Adams, to Hilson’s hiring in 2011.
Hilson’s new role at Brock will be Director of Business Development and Partnerships, and will still be tied to the business and sponsorship side of the athletic department under the University Services portfolio headed by Associate Vice President Tom Arkell.
The role of Director of Business Development and Partnerships will focus on the marketing of University facilities and services, and revenue generation from Brock and the wider St. Catharines and Niagara communities. Other departments under this purview include Dining, Residence, Parking and Conference services.
Though the new job includes non-Athletic departments, the nucleus of Hilson’s functions will remain consistent with his background of communication and marketing combined with building business relationships. Hilson came to Brock after a stint as Communications Manager for Western University’s Athletics Department and several marketing/ communication roles over 12 years at McMaster for the Marauders.
Under Hilson’s tenure as A.D., a milestone includes the passing of the Student Life referendum in 2013 which levied a student fee of $20 per credit in exchange for access to The Zone as well as free attendance to Badgers home games for students. From the levy, a little more than a million dollars are invested annually between the Recreation Services and Athletics budgets. Some visible results from these investments have been the expansion of non-varsity club teams and athletic training programs. Leading the consultation for the development of the Athletic Department’s strategic plan was another professional accolade under Hilson’s tenure.
Hilson’s most recent accomplishment was the launching of the PAWS (Providing Athletes with Winning Strategies) program in support of student-athletes and in collaboration with Brock’s Learning services. The program seeks to connect student-athletes with academic support and other student services in an effort to bolster our Badgers off the field of play.
Throughout the interim period and likely into the next A.D.’s tenure, the turf field proposal will be one item on the department’s agenda. A referendum was passed by student vote in 2013 to use $1 million from the Brock University Students’ Union’s Strategic Expansion fund towards the construction of a turf field. However, as the referendum was contingent upon breaking ground by July 2014, the funding proposal has expired with the University unable to find the remaining dollars required to build it. If the plan to build the field remains in the works, accessing BUSU’s Strategic Expansion fund will require passing another student referendum on the issue.
For more information on the projects run by the Brock University Athletic’s Department, check out gobadgers.ca, as well as for expansive coverage of all varsity games.