Robert J. Coleman enters his ninth 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 24 intercollegiate varsity sports (12 men, 12 women).
Over the past eight years, Poet teams have reached new heights under Coleman’s tenure. Recently, the 2014 Men's Water Polo team claimed the program's second consecutive SCIAC Championship and third overall 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 fourth time (3rd in Coleman's tenure) in school history. Also, the 2013 Men's Track & Field team finished their season with a national ranking of No. 7 and achieved the program's first individual national champion in the 400 meter.
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 Cross Country - No. 30 (2010)
* Women's Water Polo - No. 1 (2015)
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 a 10 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. Five teams have been recognized as All-Academic by their sport, (Men’s & Women’s Cross Country, Men's & Women's Track & Field, Men's Tennis, Men's Swimming, Women's Lacrosse and Women’s Tennis), and a total of 71 Academic All-Americans have been produced by all teams. Over the past three years over 50% of the student-athletes have received a gpa of a 3.0 or higher in each semester and an all-time high of 61.9% in the second semester of 2012.
Several facility initiatives have also been established to benefit Poet Athletics during Coleman's tenure. The recent upgrades to the Graham Athletic Center include a new 43 m x 25 m pool with new offices, a four color outdoor video display scoreboard and a two story addition to the Graham Athletic Center which includes a new Hall of Fame, offices and locker rooms. The $9 million dollar facility was unveiled in February 2012.
Other additions include a new synthetic surface for Wallace Newman Field, and 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 latest upgrade will be the addition of a new “Poet Apparel Store“, which will include a sport specific site for all teams.
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 25 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, 50, currently resides in Fullerton, Calif., with his wife, Victoria, and their ten-year old son, Aidan.