Senior Associate Director of Athletics Joe Sassi assumes AD post on one-year appointment
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (June 29, 2017) – Western New England University Director of Athletics Dr. Michael Theulen has retired following nearly two decades in the role, University President Dr. Anthony S. Caprio announced on Thursday.
"Without Mike's enthusiasm, determination, and drive, the University's athletic program would never have excelled in such a remarkable way," Caprio stated. "We are so fortunate to have had Mike as our team leader since 1998. He has transformed athletics at Western New England."
Theulen shepherded the University's athletic program through its transition to its current Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) affiliation. He committed the department and its student-athletes to comprehensive excellence in academics, athletics, leadership, and service – known as the "Western New England Way."
That dedication to all-around excellence resulted in Western New England's 42 All-Americans and 18 Academic All-Americans during his tenure. Under Theulen's leadership, the Golden Bears racked up 51 NCAA appearances in 19 years.
"It has been an honor to witness all of the amazing accomplishments of our coaches and student-athletes over the years," said Theulen. "Our Golden Bear administrative staff - athletics, athletic training, sports information, and recreation- have allowed our University to really shine and serve as a measuring stick for other schools to emulate," he added.
Western New England also captured a combined 63 conference crowns during his tenure, including 30 as a member of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) and 22 in the CCC. Fifteen of the University's 19 varsity programs earned at least one conference title with Theulen at the helm of the athletic department.
Significant among the many highlights of Theulen's Western New England career are the creation and success of the Downes Athletic Hall of Fame, the Golden Bear Club, the annual Girls and Women in Sports Day celebration, the popular Athletics Department Golf Classic, and varied recognition events honoring student -athletes for their athletic and academic successes.
Theulen's leadership was a driving force in the improvement and expansion of Western New England's outdoor facilities - particularly, the construction of Golden Bear Stadium, George E. Trelease Memorial Baseball Park, the Softball Park, and most recently the Flynn Family Golden Bear Pavilion, which opened in 2015.
Theulen also served two stints as men's basketball coach at Western England from 2004-08 and 2011-15, capturing the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England Tournament in 2007.
"During the Theulen era we experienced the establishment of the firm foundation on which the future greatness of athletics at the University will be built," explained President Caprio.
Senior Associate Director of Athletics Joe Sassi will take over the Director of Athletics role on a one-year appointment beginning on July 10. Western New England will launch a national search for its next Director of Athletics in the fall.