Thirteen years ago, Rhode Island College President John Nazarian, following an extensive nationwide search, announced the appointment of Donald E. Tencher to the position of Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Intramurals and Recreation.
In assuming his duties Tencher would not have to travel far since the previous 15 years he had partnered with the legendary Vin Cullen in building one of the strongest and most successful junior college athletic programs in the country at the Community College of Rhode Island. Tencher was known at CCRI as a tireless worker with outstanding organizational skills. He had a knack for hiring great people and possessed a broad and extensive knowledge of intercollegiate athletics. Innovation and integrity were two attributes that had directed his professional life.
Three years prior to his arrival, the RIC athletic program was literally in ashes as a general alarm fire destroyed Walsh Gymnasium, the home of intercollegiate athletics. Tencher would be the third athletic director in three years and he made it clear that his goal was to build an intercollegiate athletic program that would be successful on all levels. Tencher now oversees an intercollegiate athletic program, that is a long way from the one he inherited.
The program, once in a state of flux, just completed its most successful year in its history finishing near the top in overall Conference standings and in the top twenty percent of the National Directors' Cup standings which includes all 431 NCAA Division III member programs. The athletic program set a new institutional record for most wins and two teams (softball and men's basketball) finished in the top eight in the nation.
During his tenure, Tencher has been a one-person show when it has come to fundraising and development initiatives for intercollegiate athletics. He took a leadership role in the College's first Capital Campaign as over $5 million dollars have been raised to date with an athletic endowment fund of over $1.2 million dollars now established. Tencher is quick to say that none of the Department's fundraising successes would have been possible without the support of the corporate community, the college administration, the intercollegiate athletics staff, and most importantly, generous alumni.
Tencher looks forward to working with the college's ninth president, Nancy Carriuolo, in the upcoming years. Although athletic success is an important goal in Tencher's ongoing plan, the academic success of RIC's more than 340 student-athletes was an established priority from day one. The Marocco Center for Student-Athlete Support was established during Tencher's second year as a resource for all student-athletes to insure that they are as successful in the classroom and in the community as they are in the athletic arena. Academic success and retention of student-athletes continues to be a priority and a source of great pride.
In addition to his responsibilities on campus, Tencher has been active professionally on the state, regional, and national levels. He has served as the Chair of the NCAA Wrestling Committee, recently served on the NCAA's Initiative Grants Committee, and was just appointed to one of the NCAA's most influential sports committees, the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, where he is the liaison to men's and women's basketball. He also serves as the Secretary-Treasurer, as well the Chair of the Baseball Committee, for the Little East Conference.
He has been extremely active in the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) where he has been a member of its Executive Committee, Chair of the Continuing Education Committee and a member of the games committee for both the Kick-Off and Pigskin Classic Football Games. In 2001 and 2006, he was selected by NACDA as the Athletic Director of the Year. He has received the General Robert R. Neyland Lifetime Achievement Award from the All-American Football Foundation and was the recipient of the Frank Keaney Award from the International Institute for Sport.
He is a member of the Rhode Island Sports Council Board of Directors and was the driving force behind the successful Rhode Island Basketball Media Luncheons, which promotes men's and women's basketball. He was recently appointed to the Rhode Island College Foundation's Board of Directors.
Under Tencher's continued leadership the future looks bright. The endowment for intercollegiate athletics continues to grow, facilities continue to be enhanced and the success rate for all teams continues to increase. Most importantly one of Tencher's greatest visions, a building to support student-athlete success, has just received preliminary approval from the College's Administration and a cornerstone gift has been received to make the dream a reality.
He is a 1977 graduate of Barrington College where he lettered in basketball. He received a master's degree from the University of Rhode Island. Tencher, a native of West Warwick, RI, currently resides with his family in South Kingstown, Rhode Island.