JERSEY CITY, N.J. | After four years of exceptional leadership of the New Jersey City University (NJCU) Department of Athletics, Shawn Tucker, Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics, will return to his alma mater — Rutgers University — as its Vice President for Athletic Development at Rutgers University Foundation and deputy athletic director.
Hired in May 2018 as only NJCU’s fifth director of athletics in its history, Tucker led the department to unprecedented achievement. Under his leadership, the university nearly doubled its varsity athletics offerings from 12 to 22 programs and 26 teams, while almost tripling the number of student-athletes enrolled at the university to over 400.
Dr. Sue Henderson, President of NJCU, served as chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III President’s Council and Vice-Chair of the influential NCAA Board of Governors from 2019-20.
“We are extremely appreciative of Shawn’s service to NJCU,” said Henderson. “During my tenure with the NCAA, I’ve encountered many outstanding leaders across the country and I’m proud that we had one of the best leading our own intercollegiate efforts here in Jersey City. Shawn’s passion for holistic student-athlete development led to notable accomplishments and made an indelible impact on our students. For that, we say thank you. NJCU continues to be a destination for talented administrators, faculty, and students, and we wish Shawn well in his new role at his alma mater.”
Jason Kroll, Vice President for Advancement and Chief Strategy Officer — himself formerly Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs at Rutgers — leads NJCU’s Division of University Advancement and Strategic Initiatives, which has overseen the growth of NJCU athletics.
“Shawn Tucker is an exceptional person, and an athletic administrator with unlimited potential” Kroll noted. “I’ve had the great fortune to work directly with him at two institutions. In both instances his ability to prioritize holistic human development exponentially enhanced the student experience. College athletics needs more Shawn Tuckers. It’s great to see a Power 5 school place value on the competencies gained as a DIII athletics director. Rutgers leadership hit a grand slam.”
Under his watch, the University added 10 sports and 14 teams — reinstituting its men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field and men’s and women’s tennis programs, while launching four others for the first time — men’s and women’s wrestling, women’s golf, and eSports, which boasts four individual game teams in Super Smash Bros., Rocket League, League of Legends and Valorant. NJCU became the first college in New Jersey to launch a men’s wrestling program in nearly a quarter century and the first school in the state or the tri-state area to sponsor NCAA varsity women’s wrestling as a sport.
NJCU achieved notable accomplishments in competition, winning a combined eight conference championships over the past two years. While many institutions shuttered their athletics programs to intercollegiate competition during 2020-21, Tucker led NJCU through the COVID-19 pandemic to a single-season school record five championships — men’s and women’s basketball, men’s volleyball, and both men’s tennis and eSports Super Smash Bros. in their inaugural seasons. Notably, the women’s basketball program, which had been winless the year prior to his arrival and historically one of the least successful programs in Division III, captured the first NJAC championship in its 51-year history, and followed it up with a second consecutive title in 2021-22, earning its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The men’s volleyball championship was the first of any type in its history and culminated in a NCAA Tournament appearance. The eSports program added two championships during the 2021-22 academic year — Super Smash Bros. repeating as ECAC champions while Rocket League captured its first NECC crown.
Off the playing surface, Tucker’s oversight led to a multitude of visibility, financial stability, and growth within the department, directly contributing to the outward success of its varsity athletic programs. He launched the Rising Knight Institute (RKI) and helped secure multiple gifts to allow it to grow, and thus hire support personnel, including a full-time athletic academic advisor and director of career engagement. NJCU, behind RKI’s efforts, was awarded the 2020-21 NCAA Division III Community Service title.
Tucker spearheaded the first brand overhaul in a generation, leading to the university’s launching of new spirit marks for the first time since the 1980s, and the new slogan of ‘Jersey City’s Team.’ NJCU signed its first apparel deal in 2018, and later a transportation agreement, which included an NJCU-branded bus to further market the university.
Furthermore, Tucker worked with the university to increase its operational budget by over 100 percent to more align with its sister institutions. That has led to various facility improvements at the John J. Moore Athletics and Fitness Center (JMAC) and the Thomas M. Gerrity Athletic Complex. He developed the Athletics Advisory Board and played a pivotal role in the growth of NJCU athletics’ external revenue generation, which is approaching $2 million.
New Jersey City University is an institution of higher learning with an audacious goal: the development of our students, our city, our communities, our state, and the world beyond. We are a game-changing force for our students and their families. Whether our students are enrolled in one of our 50 undergraduate, 30 graduate or three doctoral programs at our three locations — our main campus in Jersey City, our School of Business located in the heart of the Jersey City Financial District, or our newest location at NJCU @ Fort Monmouth which expands bachelor's and master's degree offerings along the Jersey Shore, NJCU provides an affordable, diverse environment, and an exceptionally supportive faculty—all of which prepares them to be critical thinkers in a global landscape.
We’re also changing the game for our city, our communities, and our state. As the educational anchor institution in Jersey City, we’ve established partnerships to ensure the area’s growth directly benefits our students and community members. We seek to improve the lives of everyone in the Garden State, whether creating a home for the arts, bringing educational programs to K-12 students, offering bachelor’s degrees in partnership with community colleges, or providing professional development opportunities for adults.
At NJCU, we’re not just educating minds, we’re nourishing souls and lifting communities. We’re changing the game.