Director of Athletics, Harvard University
Robert L. “Bob” Scalise was introduced as Harvard’s Nichols Family Director of Athletics in July 2001 after five years as Associate Dean and Senior Executive Officer of the Harvard Business School. Scalise, the seventh person to hold the Director of Athletics post, is at the helm of the nation’s largest Division I athletic program with 41 varsity sports, two dozen junior varsity teams, and more than 1,500 intercollegiate athletes.
In his former position, Scalise oversaw an annual operating budget of approximately $200 million and managed 15 direct reports, including the Chief Officer or Executive Director of all major administrative units. Along with his business background, Scalise has extensive ties to Ivy League athletics as an All-America lacrosse player at Brown and later as head coach of the Harvard men’s lacrosse and women’s soccer programs.
A 1971 Brown graduate, Scalise was selected three times to the All-Ivy lacrosse team, and twice named All-American and All-New England. He led the nation in scoring (47 goals) as a junior, then co-captained the squad in 1971 when he set a New England record by scoring 11 times against Connecticut while helping the Bears advance to the inaugural NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament. As a senior, he was also the recipient of the Brown University Sportsmanship Award and the Sports Illustrated Award of Merit, and was inducted into the Brown Hall of Fame in 1991. He entered the coaching ranks at his alma mater in the fall of 1971 as an assistant for the men’s soccer and lacrosse teams.
Scalise was just 24 years old when named head coach of Harvard men’s lacrosse in 1974. He led the Crimson to the 1980 Ivy League Championship, the program’s first in nearly two decades, and an accompanying NCAA bid. He coached 17 All-Americans and completed his tenure in 1987 with a 98-79 overall record. In 1998, Scalise was inducted into the New England Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He was also the first coach of Harvard women’s soccer, which began varsity play in 1977, and directed that program to Ivy League crowns in 1978, 1979, and 1981, and NCAA berths in 1982 and 1984. In 1985, Scalise became the nation’s first women’s collegiate soccer coach to amass 100 victories. He finished with a 113-38-11 overall record.
He left coaching in 1987 to enroll in the Harvard Business School, where in 1989 he was awarded a Master in Business Administration. Later that year, he became Director of MBA Placement Services, managing processes and products serving the Business School community. He held that post until 1992, when he accepted a position at Bain & Company to become Director of Recruiting, Career Development, and Alumni Relations. While there, he helped develop strategic and operational initiatives to build people assets for the firm. Scalise returned to the Business School in 1995 as its Executive Director of MBA Program Administration before assuming the role of Associate Dean and Senior Executive Officer.
During his first seven years as director of athletics, Scalise has guided Harvard to nine team national championships and 48 Ivy League titles. In the same time, 35 current and former student-athletes have competed at the Olympic Games during his tenure, winning 16 medals. In 2007-08 alone, the Crimson captured five Ivy League crowns and saw 14 Harvard teams finish the season among the national top 25 in their respective sports. Individually, 14 Crimson student-athletes were selected to All-America teams last season, 11 were honored as league players or rookies of the year and one was named national player of the year.
Under Scalise’s leadership, five head coaching positions have been endowed by generous donors, including women’s ice hockey and women’s swimming, the first two women’s head coaching endowments in Harvard history, as well men’s lacrosse, men’s tennis and wrestling. In 2008, Harvard announced the “Preserving the Tradition, Supporting the Future” campaign to continue the pursuit of excellence in athletics.
Scalise has instituted several new innovations to the largest athletic department in the country. The Crimson played its first night home football game in Harvard Stadium in September 2007. Most recently, state of the art video boards were installed in Harvard Stadium and Bright Hockey Center in time for the 2008-09 seasons.
In addition, Scalise has overseen a $5 million upgrade to Harvard Stadium that has exponentially expanded the accessibility of Harvard’s athletic facilities to intercollegiate, intramural and recreational users. Harvard has installed new field turf in both Harvard Stadium and on Cumnock Turf, added a bubble over the playing field at Harvard Stadium during the winter months to increase the accessibility of the facility to the Harvard community. The department of athletics has upgraded Gordon Track, improved the Palmer Dixon Strength & Conditioning Center and renovated locker rooms for all 41 teams.
In recent years, Harvard has played host to several national athletic events, including the 2006 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four in Boston and the 2008 men’s lacrosse championships at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Harvard will again host the lacrosse championships in the spring of 2009.
The 58-year-old Scalise was born in New York City and graduated from Uniondale (NY) High School in 1967. He is married to Maura Costin Scalise ’80, an All-Ivy swimmer at Harvard who coached the Crimson women’s swimming and diving team to Ivy League and national prominence during her tenure from 1984 until 1997. They reside in Nahant with their children Michael, Mark, Matthew and Rosemary.