Robert J. Coleman enters his twelfth season at Whittier College under the title of Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of Athletics and is a valued member of the President's Senior Staff. As athletic director, Coleman has been responsible for the operations of Whittier College's athletic department, which currently sponsors 22 intercollegiate varsity sports (11 men, 11 women).
Over the past twelve years, Poet teams have reached new heights under Coleman’s tenure. Recently, the 2016 Men's Cross-Country finished their season as the 23rd ranked team in Division III, their finest finish in school history. Also in the Spring of 2016, the Women's Water Polo team claimed the program's second consecutive SCIAC Championship and was selected into the NCAA National Championships for the second consecutive year, while finishing the regular season ranked No. 1 in the Div. III National Polls for the second time in school history.
Other teams that have achieved a national ranking within the Top 30 include:
* Men's Tennis - No. 24 (2012), No. 17 (2013), No. 19 (2014)
* Men's Golf - No. 17 (2012)
* Women's Golf - No. 30 (2016)
* Women's Cross Country - No. 30 (2010)
* Women's Water Polo - No. 1 (2015) (2016)
* Men's Water Polo - No. 1 (2009), (2013), (2014)
* Men's Track & Field - No. 7 (2013) / National Champion in the 400m
* Men's Cross Country - No. 23 (2016)
Along with these rankings, men's soccer, men's golf, men's water polo, softball, women's lacrosse, men's and women's basketball, and men's and women's tennis have all had their highest total number of victories over an 11-year span with some teams breaking the all-time single season win total in school history.
The program has also seen incredible growth under Coleman’s direction as the overall size of the program has grown from 280 student-athletes to 480 in the past five seasons, which is close to a third of the Whittier College enrollment. With the growth of the program the teams have produced a total of 45 NCAA Division III All-American’s in the sports of Football, Baseball, Women’s Cross Country, Men’s and Women’s Track and Field, Men’s and Women’s Water Polo, Men’s Swimming and Men’s Lacrosse.
Whittier student-athletes have also excelled in the classroom, as well as the playing fields. Eight teams have been recognized as All-Academic by their sport, (Men’s & Women’s Cross Country, Men's & Women's Track & Field, Men's & Women's Tennis, Men's & Women's Swimming & Diving, & Women's Lacrosse), and a total of 71 Academic All-Americans have been produced by all teams. Over the past four years over 50% of the student-athletes have received a GPA of a 3.0 or higher in each semester with an all-time high of 66.5% in the second semester of 2015. In the spring of 2017, 13 of the 22 teams achieved a G.P.A. of a 3.0 or higher.
Several facility initiatives have also been established to benefit Poet Athletics during Coleman's tenure. The most recent upgrades were just completed at Memorial Stadium with the installation of Field Turf to Wallace Newman Field, a new track resurfacing completed by Benyon Sports Surfaces and a new Daktronics sound system. The Lillian Slade Aquatics Center also had a major facelift that included a new 43 m x 25 m pool with new offices and a four color outdoor video display scoreboard. Included in that project was a two story addition to the Graham Athletic Center with a new Hall of Fame, offices and team locker rooms. The $9 million dollar facility was unveiled in February 2012.
Other additions at Wallace Newman Field, have included a state-of-the-art press box, stadium seating, outdoor display scoreboard, track resurfacing and lighting for Memorial Stadium. Refurbishments and improvements have also occurred to the Graham Athletic Center, Ettinger Tennis Facility, George Allen Fitness Center, Donald Graham Soccer/Lacrosse Field, Memorial Baseball Field and the Athletic Training Room. These improvements have included new scoreboards, locker rooms, dugouts, backboards, sound systems, logos, flooring and weight room equipment, to name a few.
In addition to creating multiple new full-time positions for coaches and staff, Coleman has also been instrumental in the creation of a new athletics web site and marks for the entire department, restoring the sport of Women’s Golf and increasing the membership of Purple & Gold the programs booster club. Over his tenure, membership for the Purple & Gold Club has doubled and the monies raised from P&G have allowed the athletic program to continue upgrading its athletic facilities while also creating opportunities for its current and future student-athletes. The next upgrade will occur in the Spring of 2017 when an updated synthetic turf and new track and field surface will be installed.
Prior to his appointment at Whittier College, Coleman was the Director of Athletics at The City College of New York from 1998-2005. During his tenure at CCNY, Coleman reorganized the entire program. Under his direction the program won nine tournament championships and sent four teams to the NCAA Division III Championships with Women's Track and Field finishing as high as third place on two separate occasions. The program also sent seven teams to the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships Tournament with Men's Volleyball winning the Metro South Championship. Coleman also brought extensive renovations to the athletic facilities at CCNY, including the Nat Holman gymnasium, fitness center and athletics offices.
Before joining CCNY in 1998, Coleman served as the Assistant and Associate Director of Athletics at Hunter College (N.Y.) from 1990-1998 and received the graduate fellowship from the Springfield College athletic department in 1988-89.
With 27 years of experience in athletic administration, Coleman has had extensive involvement with committee participation. He recently was selected to serve a four year term (2012-2016) on the NCAA Division III Financial Aid Committee, which he will chair here in his final year, and recently finished a two-year term (2008-10) as the Chair of the Athletic Administrators in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. He also has served a four-year term on the NCAA Division III Interpretation and Legislation Committee where he was committee chair from January 2007-2008. Other committee work has consisted of serving six years on the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Committee, where from 1998-2001 he was chairman for the Atlantic Region, which culminated in being selected as the chair of the National Committee during the 2000-01 season.
Coleman received his Bachelors of Science in Athletic Administration from St. Leo University, Fla., in 1987 and a Masters of Education specializing in Sports Management from Springfield College, Mass., in 1989.
Coleman, 52, currently resides in Fullerton, Calif., with his wife, Victoria, and their thirteen-year old son, Aidan "A-Train" Coleman.