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St. John’s Athletic Director to leave post

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Ed Manetta, the associate vice president and athletic director at St. John’s University, officially announced his resignation Friday, ending his six-year association with the school.

During his...

By Anthony Bosco

The decision may not have been easy, but it was made.

Ed Manetta, the associate vice president and athletic director at St. John’s University, officially announced his resignation Friday, ending his six-year association with the school.

During his tenure with the athletic department, Manetta helped revitalize a lengthy basketball tradition that had fallen on hard times. Spanning three coaches — Brian Mahoney, Fran Frascilla and Mike Jarvis — Manetta’s reign saw the Red Storm make it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament three years ago and win the Big East Championship in 1999-2000.

His decision to leave St. John’s to head up the United States sports marketing division of Hill & Knowlton, Inc. was admittedly a difficult one for Manetta.

“It was difficult in the sense that you are part of this place, it’s your alma mater,” said Manetta, a 1977 graduate of St. John’s, Friday. “There will be a piece of me that’s always at St. John’s. It was very difficult.”

“We are very sorry to see Ed go, but we are happy for him at the same time,” said the Rev. Donald J. Harrington, president of St. John’s University. “We wish Ed much success in his new position.”

What helped Manetta make his decision was his past association with some key figures at Hill & Knowlton, including Phil Sheldon, the company’s general manager, and John Eckle, two men with whom Manetta worked while he was employed at Edelman Worldwide before coming to St. John’s.

The opportunity presented by Hill and Knowlton to return to sports marketing was one Manetta said was just too good to let pass him by.

“It’s one of those that comes along once in a while in life,” Manetta said. “They were courting me for awhile. I thought long and hard about it. It’s just a wonderful opportunity professionally.

“I was here and I was very happy,” he added about his time at St. John’s. “This is where I wanted to be. It was a great opportunity to me.”

Prior to his marketing career, Manetta was the AD at DePaul University from 1981 through 1986.

Manetta said that he accomplished most of what he set out to achieve at St. John’s, but believes there are still some things the university should address.

One of those things is a new facility that would be used strictly for students at the school, not student-athletes, who currently monopolize most of the time at the school’s lone athletic building, Alumni Hall.

Also, Manetta would like to see the women’s basketball team reach a level playing field with its male counterpart, something Manetta was unable to accomplish.

“They’ve struggled,” Manetta said. “When I hired [coach Darcel Estep] two years ago, I said it was going to take four or five years. The Big East has some of the best talent in the country. It’s like building a house. You have to go piece by piece.”

Perhaps the biggest struggle of Manetta’s tenure came two seasons ago when the NCAA investigated then point guard Erick Barkley. Though he stopped short of calling it a lowlight, Manetta clearly intimated that the whole incident was not his happiest time at St. John’s.

“I don’t look at anything as being a lowlight,” Manetta said. “Lowlights aren’t lowlights, they are challenges. That was a great learning experience. Out of that has come a lot of reform.”

Manetta has some unfinished business to attend to before leaving his office at Alumni Hall for the last time, including attending the annual Big East meetings this month. Then, he said, it will be time to say some long and difficult goodbyes.

“Some tears will definitely be shed,” Manetta said.

St. John’s spokesman Jody Fischer said that the school will most likely form a search committee to find a replacement for Manetta, who will leave his post in early July.

“We’d love to have someone in place as soon as possible,” Fischer said. “But we’re not going to lock ourselves into an artificial timetable. The No. 1 priority is getting the best qualified person.”

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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